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September 9, 2014
by Mark Kaboly


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Kaboly: Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher weighs in on Ray Rice incident

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NFL: Super Bowl XLVII-CBS Sports Press ConferenceCount former Steelers coach Bill Cowher among the people who feel that the Ravens did the right thing by releasing Ray Rice after video surfaced on Monday of Rice knocking out his then girlfriend, now wife, in an Atlantic City hotel elevator during a February, 2014 incident.

During a conference call promoting ‘NFL’s Thursday Night Football,’ Cowher said that the TMZ Sports video of the incident was “disturbing.”

“From a coaching perspective, you are with your team as much as you are with your family and there is a commitment you ask your players that is family-like in terms of sacrifice and dedication,” Cowher said. “I will just say to you as a father of three daughters (Meghan, Lindsay, Lauren), it was inexcusable and it was very disturbing. I think (the Ravens) absolutely did the right thing because there is no way that you want to condone that even by having that person in your building.”

Cowher will be at M&T Bank Stadium Baltimore on Thursday as he will join fellow analyst Deion Sanders for ‘NFL Thursday Night Kickoff’ along with host James Brown.

 

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September 4, 2014
by Mark Kaboly


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Kaboly: Shazier, Tuitt take part in the TV show ‘The League’

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We know Ryan Shazier can play football.

Apparently, the rookie can act, as well.

Shazier joined teammate Stephon Tuitt and a host of other rookie NFL stars on Wednesday’s season premiere of the comedy ‘The League’ on FXX.

Since I have never watched the show (I will probably start now), here is an excerpt from www.thedailybeast.com:

“In what has become a hallmark for the series, the season premiered with an extended, cameo-filled dream sequence about the fantasy league draft. In the opening scene, Kevin MacArthur, whose gifted wife, Jenny, is also in the league (which constantly makes him feel emasculated), is trying out at the NFL combine as Rich Eisen narrates his paltry performance. In less than two minutes, we’re bombarded with an array of famous to not-quite-as-famous NFL stars: Carlos Hyde, Mike Evans, Taylor Lewan, Shazier and Tuitt.”

“It was kind of cool being out there doing something different,” Shazier said Thursday. “I definitely would love to do it again just to get my name out there. You never know what you could do after football. It was fun.”

Shazier said that he got hooked up with the show through “people who know people.”

The scene was filmed between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp.

Make sure you check out the podcast of the Steelers Roundtable featuring Alan Robinson, Ralph N. Paulk and Mark Kaboly. Listen here: http://sportstalk.triblive.com/download/904RO14.mp3

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September 4, 2014
by Alan Robinson


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Robinson: Surprising Steelers predictions now on Steelers Roundtable

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A new Steelers Roundtable podcast is now available.

Steelers writers Alan Robinson, Ralph N. Paulk (live in Cleveland) and Mark Kaboly discuss the Browns-Steelers game, and a whole lot more Steelers-related:

– How much will Johnny Manziel play, if at all, for the Browns?

– What effect will yet-another-new-coach Mike Pettine have on the always-changing Browns?

– What are potential trouble spots on the Steelers’ offense and defense?

– What problems do the reconfigured Browns and Brian Hoyer pose for the Steelers?

– What should we expect from Ryan Shazier’s rookie season?

– How will the Browns attack a Steelers defense filled with new personnel?

– What the potential strengths/weaknesses of the Steelers’ offense and defense?

We also offer up game predictions and pick the Steelers’ season record – and one of them is quite surprising.

Don’t forget the show airs live every Thursday at 9 a.m. on TribLIVE Radio, with a downloadable podcast to follow immediately afterward.

Listen here:

 

 

 

 

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September 3, 2014
by Mark Kaboly


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Kaboly: Time is ticking away on Cortez Allen’s contract extension

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hi-res-6904804_crop_northCortez Allen has until Sunday to sign a contract extension with the Steelers before officially turning into Keenan Lewis.

The Steelers will cut off contract negotiations with all their players come Sunday, including Allen, who will become an unrestricted free agent in March.

Allen, as he has all preseason, refused to address his contract situation on Wednesday.

“I am working on Cleveland right now,” Allen said in reference to Sunday’s game against the Browns. “That’s my focus. All of that other stuff is not my concern right now. We have a game. My thought is that everything takes care of itself. I don’t think about the contract thing and anything like that.”

Allen is in the final year of his rookie deal just like Lewis was heading into the 2012 season.

The Steelers decided not to sign the unproven Lewis before the 2012 season, then priced himself out of Pittsburgh with a solid campaign. Lewis signed a 5-year, $26.3 million contract with the Saints two months after the season.

If a deal isn’t worked out by Sunday with Allen, he could find himself in the same situation as Lewis and could parlay a strong season into a big free-agent deal next year.

However, Allen won’t even allow him to think about that.

“I wouldn’t even say that,” Allen said. “It’s a day-to-day thing as far as getting better individual.”

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said during the summer that the organization was targeting a number of players for contract extensions. The Steelers signed center Maurkice Pouncey, kicker Shaun Suisham and tackle Marcus Gilbert. Linebacker Jason Worilds and Allen remained unsigned past 2014.

The Steelers have waited until the last minute to sign a player before. Troy Polamalu signed an extension in 2011 at the airport on the Saturday before the start of the season as the team was about to depart for Baltimore.

 

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August 29, 2014
by Mark Kaboly


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Kaboly: My version of the Steelers final 53-man roster (including practice squad)

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The Steelers have until 4 p.m. on Saturday to set its 53-man roster, which means the team has to cut 22 players from its current roster.

While there doesn’t expect to be many surprise cuts coming from Steelers’ headquarters, a few veterans could be on their way out the door like linebacker Chris Carter and safety Will Allen.

Even though the Steelers have to cut 22 players, they can add 10 to their practice squad. With the NFL loosening the eligibility requirements it takes to get on the practice squad just two weeks ago, many of their cuts will end up right back with the team.

The one who will benefit the most will be Chartiers Valley’s Ross Ventrone. Ventrone wasn’t eligible for the practice squad this year until the league changed its rules to allow a fourth year guy eligible for the practice squad.

Here’s my (UPDATED) Steelers 53-man roster:

 

QB (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones

Note: Still aren’t about to give up on a fourth-round pick yet.

 

RB (4) – Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer, Will Johnson

Note: Archer and Johnson being able to be flexible makes it easy to keep four.

 

WR (6) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Brown

Note: Heyward-Bey did enough over the past two weeks.

 

TE (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Michael Palmer

Note: The use of Archer in the passing game allows them to keep three tight ends.

 

OL (8) – Kelvin Beachum, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Guy Whimper, Cody Wallace.

Note: It’s always between eight and nine for offensive linemen. This year, Munchak will get only eight.
DL (6) – Cameron Heyward, Steve McLendon, Cam Thomas, Stephon Tuitt, Brett Keisel, Daniel McCullers

Note: Signing of Keisel bumps Josh Mauro to the practice squad.

 

LB (9) – Jarvis Jones, Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Jason Worilds, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terrence Garvin, Arthur Moats, Howard Jones

Note: Steelers will choose potential (Jones) over experience (Chris Carter).

 

CB (7) – Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Antwon Blake, Shaquille Richardson, Brice McCain, B.W. Webb

Note: Steelers need to look to the future when putting together this group.

 

S (4) – Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden

Note: Will Allen can still play, but not as well as Thomas or Golden.

 

K (1) – Shaun Suisham

Note: No competition in camp means he’s the only option.

 

P (1) – Brad Wing

Note: Still could bring in a veteran punter.

 

LS (1) – Greg Warren

Note: Looks like he will be ready for the opener.

Practice squad: RB Stephen Houston, RB Josh Harris, TE David Paulson, OL Chris Hubbard, WR Derek Moye, DL Josh Mauro, DL Nick Williams, S Ross Ventrone, CB Isaiah Green, OL Wesley Johnson

For more Steelers info, check out the Steelers roundtable podcast featuring Alan Robinson, Ralph Paulk and Mark Kaboly (that’s me).

 

To download it: http://files.triblive.com/podcasts/sportstalk/828RO14.mp3

 

Also check out the podcast from my show — The Kaboly Show

 

To download it: http://sportstalk.triblive.com/download/825KAB14.mp3

 

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August 28, 2014
by Alan Robinson


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Robinson: Talkin’ Steelers: Steelers Roundtable now available

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Steelers talk, available 24 hours a day.

Here’s the podcast of the first edition of Steelers Roundtable, a weekly all-Steelers discussion featuring the Trib’s three Steelers writers: Alan Robinson, Ralph N. Paulk and Mark Kaboly.

Among the topics:

– Who has the most to gain or lose during the final preseason game?

– What will Mike Tomlin’s ultimate punishment (if any) for Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount be?

– Is LeGarrette Blount a bad influence on Le’Veon Bell?

– Will the Bell/Blount case/punishment carry into the start of the season, when the Steelers want to get off strong to avoid the 0-4 start of last season?

– Who is Mike Tomlin’s arrow pointing up for and down for?

Steelers Roundtable is heard each THURSDAY on TribLIVE Radio at 9 a.m., with a podcast to follow immediately. We’ll be back next week to discuss the start of the season, the Steelers playing the Browns twice in the first six weeks and whether the Brian Hoyer/Johnny Manziel quarterback debate helped or hurt the Steelers.

 

To download the podcast, visit http://files.triblive.com/podcasts/sportstalk/828RO14.mp3

 

 

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Kaboly: Steelers cut 9 including So’oto; more to come

August 26, 2014 by Mark Kaboly | Comments

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The Steelers cut nine players on Tuesday morning and will have to make six more roster moves by the 4 p.m deadline.

A couple of the first cuts were a little bit surprising.

The Steelers released linebacker Vic So’oto, safety Jordan Dangerfield and tight end Eric Waters despite all three have solid training camps.

So’oto may have had the best camp of all the players who were initially cut. He forced a pair of fumbles including one against the Bills that led to the game-winning points.

Dangerfield and Waters both performed well, and with the lack of young depth at the position, all three (including So’oto) could find themselves back on the Steelers’ 10-man practice squad by next week.

Also released were running backs Miguel Maysonet and Jordan Hall (Jeannette); wide receivers C.J. Goodwin (California, Pa.) and Kashif Moore; and cornerbacks Devin Smith and Lewis Toler.

The Steelers must reduce its roster to 53 players by Saturday at 4 p.m.

If you want to check out my projected 53-man roster, check out the podcast of my TribLive Radio Show — http://sportstalk.triblive.com/download/825KAB14.mp3

 

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August 25, 2014
by Alan Robinson


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Robinson: Steelers have history of mismanaging backup QBs

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lendawson2

Len Dawson as a Steelers backup QB

 

 

The Steelers’ backup quarterback situation wouldn’t make any NFL coach comfortable.

Bruce Gradkowski, who never got off the bench last season, played well against Eagles’ backups on Thursday, going 8-of-11 for 105 yards and two touchdowns, but he didn’t come in until the game had long since been decided. And he was coming off a rough outing against the Bills (7-of-13, 47 yards, 1 interception).

Landry Jones didn’t play in Philadelphia, but he was erratic and ineffective against the Giants and Bills – 13-of-26 for 127 yards, 0 touchdowns and one interception. And this was after a 2013 season in which he never saw the playing field after playing the entire preseason game at Carolina.

There’s a saying in the NFL that a team is only as good as its backup quarterback – and, if that’s the case, the Steelers have cause for concern. Still, imagine what the St. Louis Rams are going through after losing Sam Bradford for the season with a torn ACL, and are looking at going through the season with the much-traveled Shaun Hill – who’s with his fourth team – at quarterback.

Ben Roethlisberger played every snap last season, but the Steelers discovered during both the 2011 and 2012 seasons how valuable he is to them. He was hurt during the second half of both seasons, and the Steelers weren’t the same team in either year after he came back.

A backup quarterback can rally a season but, more often than not, it seems he can ruin one.

So imagine this – more than 50 years ago, the Steelers had not one but TWO future Hall of Fame quarterbacks as backups, yet had no idea what to do with either of them. So they did nothing.

Imagine today if the Steelers owned the valuable No. 5 overall pick in the NFL Draft and drafted one of college football’s best quarterbacks.

And then never let him off the bench for one season. Two seasons. Three seasons.

That’s exactly what they did with Len Dawson,  a first-round pick in 1957 who went on to throw exactly 17 passes and one TD pass for them through the 1959 season.

“It was a different era,” Dawson said.

It certainly was. Today, there would be so much pressure to play such a high pick, there is no possible way he could languish on a bench for three seasons.

“I didn’t even know I was drafted by Pittsburgh until the next day or two,” Dawson said. “Because they didn’t have the extravaganza like they have in New York.”

There wasn’t much of one awaiting him in Pittsburgh, either. Certainly nothing like that which followed the drafting of Roethlisberger in 2004.

“Walt Kiesling was the coach and he had some health problems, and Buddy Parker had won the NFL championship in Detroit in 1956 — and Art Rooney hired him,” Dawson said. “And Buddy Parker never played rookies, particularly at the quarterback position.”

After the Steelers expended a first-round pick on Dawson, from Purdue, they  traded two first-round picks on 49ers quarterback Earl Morrall – meaning they used up three first-round picks to get Morrall and Dawson. Then, only two games into the 1958 season, they traded Morrall to the Lions for Parker’s starting quarterback there, Bobby Layne.

All the while, Len Dawson sat. And sat. And sat.

“I didn’t get the opportunity, and if you don’t get the opportunity, you’re not going to be successful,” Dawson said.

Dawson didn’t get much of one after going to the Browns in 1960, throwing only 28 passes in two seasons. No wonder he jumped to the AFL in 1962, where he went on to throw for 28,507 yards and 237 TDs for the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs – and become a Pro Football Hall of Fame member.

Could Dawson have had that career in Pittsburgh?

“I don’t know,” he said of not playing. “You’ll have to ask the Rooneys.”

One Rooney – team founder Art Rooney Sr. – had to answer more than a few questions from sons Dan and Art Jr. after the Steelers drafted a former St. Justin’s High and Louisville quarterback named Johnny Unitas in 1955.

Both Rooney sons were convinced early in training camp that Unitas had the best arm of any Steelers quarterback. (Coincidentally, Unitas had beaten out Dan Rooney to be the all-city Catholic first-team quarterback a few years before.)

But coach Walt Kiesling somehow determined that Unitas wasn’t equipped to run an NFL style offense, and didn’t give him any practice reps. Kiesling was determined to keep Jim Finks, a future NFL general manager who started every game that season, and future NFL head coach Ted Marchibroda as a backup. It’s hard to imagine even a rookie QB having worse numbers than Finks that season – 47 percent completion percentage, 10 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in 12 starts.

The Steelers cut Unitas before the season started, much to the chagrin of Art Jr., who wrote a lengthy letter to his father pleading that the Steelers kept him. But the senior Rooney said Kiesling was in charge of the roster, and that was that.

Unitas didn’t hook on with another NFL team, and he spent that fall playing for the semi-pro Bloomfield Rams for $6 a game.

A year later, a Bloomfield Rams teammate received a tryout from the Baltimore Colts, and Unitas went along — and was subsequently signed. Within three years, he was the NFL MVP – and the Steelers still were plodding along with a 6-5-1 record after having traded for Layne.

Even today, Unitas is referred to as the best quarterback in NFL history by some analysts – and Dawson is considered to be one of the key players who helped establish the AFL, allowed it to catch up to the NFL in talent and, by the end of the 1960s, merge with the NFL.

If nothing else, Art Rooney Jr. established his player evaluation skills with his assessment of Unitas, and he went on to become a pivotal figure – leading the exceptional drafts of the 1970s – who helped the Steelers win four Super Bowls during the 1970s.

Even if Unitas and Dawson were long since gone, lost to two of the worst player personnel decisions in the Steelers’ 81-year history.

 

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August 23, 2014
by Mark Kaboly


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Kaboly: Haley has plan to get back at Snoop Dogg

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NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh SteelersTodd Haley and Terrell Owens going back-and-forth with each other.

Todd Haley and Kurt Warner have shouting matches on the sidelines.

Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger reportedly not getting along when Haley was hired as offensive coordinator to replace Roethlisberger’s good friend Bruce Arians.

Todd Haley, a napkin, a hotel bar and an autograph. A dog sitter suing him.

That’s what we hear about Todd Haley.

What we don’t hear about Haley is that he has a pretty good sense of humor. Actually, a real good sense of humor.

By now everybody has heard about, or saw, rap star Snoop Dogg’s video (sorry I can’t link it here because of some profanity) of him berating Haley and pleading for Mike Tomlin to fire Haley. Snoop has been a long time Steelers fan and was actually at the their Super Bowl XLIII party the night the Steelers beat the Cardinals.

So, what’s Haley reaction?

How about the ice bucket challenge?

Haley said that he would like to take part in the challenge to support ALS and then nominate Snoop Dogg in the process to do the same.

Of course, this would happen only if it is OKd by the boss, which something tells me it wouldn’t.

Still, I do believe it would be a pretty good response to Snoop’s video, don’t you?

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August 22, 2014
by Alan Robinson


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Robinson: Tomlin, Bell, Blount talk following Steelers’ dismal loss

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PHILADELPHIA—Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount didn’t do much on the field Thursday night, and they didn’t have much to say about it – or the huge distraction they apparently  caused the Steelers – following a not-that-close 31-21 preseason loss to the Eagles.

Earlier in the day, Bell and Blount were charged by the Ross Police Department with possession of marijuana, and Bell also was charged with DUI (marijuana) for an incident that occurred Wednesday afternoon along McKnight Road, shortly before the team plane left for Philadelphia.

Both face possible discipline from the NFL, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hinted the team would deal with the matter, too. But he also said he didn’t fell that sitting them down would punish them.

Tomlin said:

“That conduct is detrimental to our efforts. It will be dealt with appropriately. But I didn’t view it as punishment to send them home, to not play a preseason game.  I’d rather them to play more than remove them from game.

“That’s why we took the stance we took tonight, and obviously we’ve got some things to do in regards to moving forward. But not a lot regarding it (to say) at this point in time.”

Here are transcripts of both players’ brief post-game interviews.

LE’VEON BELL (9 carries, 23 yards)

Opening statement:

“I’m sorry to be a distraction to the team but I’m only going to answer football questions now.”

How did he feel?

“I felt fine out there, felt normal, felt like a normal game.”

Was he happy to get to play?

“Yes, most definitely glad I got to play.”

On what needs to be fixed:

“We can go back and look at film but there are a lot of little things we could’ve done better. We can correct those things and get ready for next week.”

“Most definitely. We have to take our time, continue to get better each week. We have to go to practice next week and get better.”

He declined to say whether he addressed his teammates.

LeGARRETTE BLOUNT (7 carries, 32 yards)

Opening statement:

“I’m sorry for the distraction I caused my team. I just want to apologize to my team, to the coach and the organization for causing that distraction.”

On whether he thought he would play:

“I didn’t know.”

Asked if it wouldn’t happen again, he said he would answer football questions only.

On how he felt:

“I felt the same. I had my same normal game preparation and everything.”

Is he concerned about league discipline?

“I’m going to answer questions only about the game.”

On the offense:

“I think the offense has a lot of things to work on, but we’ll be good. We have a lot of things to work on in our pass game, our run game and our offense in general. We’re going to go back and evaluate the film and we’re going to definitely get better.”

On the loss:

“We’re not worried about it. It’s preseason. We’re obviously disappointed because we want to win every game. We’re obviously disappointed, but we’re going to fix everything, so we’re going to be fine.”

On what Eagles coach Chip Kelly, his former coach at Oregon, said after he ran out of bounds on the Eagles sideline during a kickoff return.

“He said it looked like you got a little faster.”

 

 

 

 

 

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