Of Ribs and Rings: The Tale of the Roethlisberger

All I can say is: I knew it.  Damn those RAVENS!!! Shoulder + ribs = underthrown bombs to Nate Washington.  Look for a new aerial attack in 2009.

Roethlisberger - Flak Jacket - Rib Protection

Roethlisberger - Flak Jacket - Rib Protection

More Picks here: WHO RUN IT?! Superbowl Champs Edition

22 comments

  1. Yep…..you said it on numerous occasions. I had no idea he had fractured ribs, though. I thought it was just his shoulder.

  2. GN:

    From where I’m sitting, this is great news. I’m definitely not saying they’ll win the SB next year, but I think the offense will be much, much, much better.

    I look at it like this:
    2004 — Rookie Season
    2005 — Sophomore Learning Curve (Super Bowl W)
    2006 — Motorcycle Incident. It’s not an accident since he wasn’t wearing a helmet.
    2007 — Loss of College Coach Terry Hoeppner to Cancer
    2008 — No Running Game, New Line, Injuries (Super Bowl W)

    Are you kidding? If they can all just stay on the field for about 13 or 14 games and enter the playoffs healthy — look out!!

    The guy is 26 years old. If you could dump Limas Sweed in the Randy Moss-making machine or just a Big/Tall Ball-Catching Machine or even a 2007 Plaxico Machine — hmmm, mmm.

  3. Yep, the future looks bright indeed. The key will be the offensive line and whether or not they can get some all-pro performances out of those guys. I think they will gel and be light years better than last year. I also think Santonio and Hines will both be 1,000 yd receivers next year.

    Man, I can’t wait for next season. Like you say, they may not win it all but dammit it’s going to exciting just knowing that they have the potential to be even better than last year.

  4. A healthier Willie Parker would do wonders as well. Also, maybe Arians will modify his offenses just a bit. I hope they don’t lose Nate Washington, but I could see another team signing him just to make sure that the Steelers don’t have their speed threat. If Sweed could continue to improve, not as big a problem as it could be.

    The defense is always good. A little improvement with special teams wouldn’t hurt either. An easier schedule, less injuries, and (Tom Brady not coming back completely right) could equal another Super Bowl.

  5. kos,

    I hope Arians does modify the offense but i’m not holding my breath.

    I think that we might lose Nate because i’m sure he feels he can start on another team….and you also have to factor in salary.

    Special teams should definitely be a priority. We need a playmaker returning kicks and punts. I can’t tell you how many times I asked myself why they were using FBs to return kicks?

    Fortunately, T3 broke it down for me….

  6. I really hope the Steelers keep Nate Washington. I don’t he’s as good as he thinks he is, but he may be more valuable than Colbert thinks he is. That’s the problem.

    Nate is still learning and he might start in some places. He’s not an accomplished route runner or receiver yet, so he still has potential. There are certainly places he could go and catch more balls to create a legacy for himself and get that big payday. He would do well in Buffalo, Tennessee, or Miami. The Titans took Thigpen when he was available, so this wouldn’t be totally unfamiliar to them.

    Sweed ran a 4.5 – which at 6’4″ is going to play faster, but its not quite what Nate puts down. If Ben is healthy, I want him to be able to take that deep shot whenever we get between the 40’s to stretch the defense.

    Texas Pro day (March 19th): WR Limas Sweed (6-4 ¼, 210): Ran the 40 in 4.50 and 4.51, had a 37 ½-inch vertical jump, 10-foot, 8-inch long jump, 4.33 short shuttle, 7.14 cone drill, ran position drills and looked good catching the ball.

    Would you draft that guy in Madden? NEVER!

    Any word on Rashard Mendenhall?

  7. I’ve read reports that said Mendenhall initially thought that he would need surgery when he suffered that injury but that isn’t the case. He should be at 100% when offseason workouts begin.

    Steelers | Mendenhall working on strengthening shoulder
    Thu, 29 Jan 2009 11:39:00 -0800

    James Walker, of ESPN.com, reports Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall (shoulder) said his current goal is strengthening the muscles around his surgically repaired shoulder. He expects to be fully healthy by the team’s offseason workouts.

  8. It seems like conflicting reports…..

    The initial report said he didn’t need surgery but in the mini-article it says he’s strengthening the muscles around his surgically repaired shoulder.

    I guess the bottom line is, he expects to be 100% when the workouts come around.

  9. Below is an excerpt from an interview Scott Brown (TribLive Sports) had w/ Nate Washington back on Oct. 26, 2008.

    —————————————————————————-

    Per the suggestion of a, uh, friend, Steelers wide receiver Nate Washington got a Mohawk haircut prior to the start of training camp. Last week, it looked like Washington had decided to go with a more conventional hairstyle but he said he just needed a haircut and promised that the “Mohawk will be back.”

    His hair isn’t the only thing that has been growing in recently as Washington is looking more and more comfortable as the Steelers’ No. 3 wide receiver. The fourth-year veteran has caught long touchdown a each of the last two games. The 50-yarder he hauled in from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in last Sunday’s 38-10 win over the Bengals is the longest reception by a Steelers this season. Not bad for a guy that made the NFL as an undrafted free agent from a Division II school.

    Washington recently talked to the Tribune-Review how he finally feels like he belongs in the NFL, who the funniest player in the Steelers’ locker room is and which Steeler would get his vote for president of the United States if he had to pick one.

    [B]Coach Mike Tomlin recently said he has challenged you to make big plays every game and become more consistent. Has that made a difference in your play?[/B]

    “Me and coach Tomlin had long conversations about that and long conversations about the possibility of what I could do in this league. I think it took me time to really sit down and pay attention to what is going on. Some of the last seasons I’ve been here, I’ve been catching myself in moments that I’m just happy to be here instead of being able to make plays for this team. My focus this year is totally different than from what it’s been in the past.”

    [B]Were you just happy to be here at times simply because of how you got here? Not many players from Tiffin (Ohio) University make it to the NFL.[/B]

    “Being a guy that came from where I came from, I don’t want to make that an excuse or a crutch, but it’s tough. I was telling somebody else, ‘These guys have played D-I, they’ve seen the Peyton Mannings, they’ve seen the Troy Polamalus and those type of guys in college.’ I didn’t see that caliber of guy in college. But I think now I’m coming into my own and I’m doing the things I’m comfortable with to be a leader now.”

    [B]Did the Steelers taking wide receiver Limas Sweed in the second round of last April’s NFL draft light a fire under you?[/B]

    “No, if that was the situation then I would have had a problem when they drafted Santonio (Holmes) and Willie Reid (in 2006). I don’t think that fueled my fire or anything. It makes you work better when they go out and get a second-round pick, but it’s not going to be any different then if they went and got a rookie free agent. Your job is being jeopardized any time someone new comes in here. I had it set in my mind way back before the draft that this year was going to be my year. I was going to focus a lot more and do the things I needed to do.”

    [B]You are a free agent at the end of this season. Do you want to stay in Pittsburgh?[/B]

    “I would love to stay here. I love the organization, the guys on the team, the coaches. It would be great to stay here. That’s what I’m really hoping for but things get complicated sometimes so you never know what happens. But this is really where I would like to be.”

    [B]Who is the funniest guy in the locker room?[/B]

    “It might be Larry Foote actually. Larry Foote is definitely the guy that thinks he can do anything and everything better than anybody. He could tell George Bush he can manage this country better. Some people might say it was me but I get the most kick out of Larry Foote.”

    [B]If you had to pick one player in the locker room to be president of the United State, who gets your vote and why?[/B]

    “(Laughs) that’s a tough question because you’ve got to pick the most sensible guy and there aren’t too many sensible guys in this locker room. I think the guy I might pick is Charlie Batch. He’s a right-on, take-care-of-business type of guy. He keeps his head on straight but I don’t know, he gets kind of crazy too at times. ”

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_595247.html

  10. I was just reading about Darnell Stapleton. He was a Rimington Award finalist at Rutgers — while playing CENTER. He played right guard in the Super Bowl and was noticeably pushed around by Darnell Dockett on a couple of occasions.

    There is no shame in that.

    According to his Wiki page, he’s listed at 285. That means regardless of whether he put on 15 or 20 during the season, his playing weight is very likely closer to 285. With Stapleton and Hartwig on the roster, I don’t know why the Steelers would want Cal’s Alex Mack.

    Have you guys seen that kid play? The Senior Bowl scouts were really impressed with the center at Oregon.

  11. I think the following article will also interest you guys as well. It’s pretty much like the approach that we thought they would/might take:

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_610958.html

    =================================================

    [b]Steelers look to lock up left tackle

    By Scott Brown, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Tuesday, February 10, 2009[/b]

    The Steelers will likely make a push to retain either Max Starks or Marvel Smith prior to the start of the free-agent signing period at the end of the month.

    Both are unrestricted free agents, as is Trai Essex. If the Steelers lose all three during free agency it will leave them without a left tackle who has any NFL game experience on their roster.

    “Sometimes you can let a guy test the market when you have an alternative in the house,” Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Monday. “But when your alternatives are free agents as well, that’s a little unnerving. It makes you feel uneasy.”

    The Steelers are still formulating the plan they will take into free agency and the NFL draft. And Colbert said the team’s offseason plans should be pretty much set before the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts a week from Wednesday.

    The Steelers have yet to negotiate with any players on their roster, and none of their marquee players are up for free agency.

    But in addition to Starks, Smith and Essex, starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu could hit the open market on Feb. 27 while starting right tackle Willie Colon will be a restricted free agent.

    “If we could we wouldn’t have that many coming into free agency at the same time,” Colbert said of the offensive line, “but circumstances just dictated that’s where it ended up this time.”

    Colbert said he would “like to be able to” sign at least one of the left tackles that are up for free agency.

    Smith, 30, is the most experienced of the three but he has missed 19 games the last two seasons because of back problems.

    Colbert said Smith has been rehabilitating and that “everything has checked out” healthwise.

    Smith didn’t play after the Steelers’ Oct. 5 game in Jacksonville and the team put him on injured reserve in late December.

    Ken Zuckerman, Smith’s agent, said the ninth-year veteran is healthy again.

    “If needed be, he could have played in the Super Bowl,” Zuckerman said.

    Essex has played sparingly in four NFL seasons and has just one career start at left tackle.

    Starks would almost certainly draw the most interest of the three on the open market. The 6-8, 345-pounder has started at right and left tackle on Super Bowl-winning teams, and he only turned 27 last month.

    The Steelers used the franchise tag on Starks last year — it allowed them to match any offer made to him by another team and receive compensation if he signed elsewhere — and they could do the same thing this year.

    Starks made almost $6.9 million last season, and he would be guaranteed $8.45 million next season if the Steelers use the franchise tag on him, or $7.74 million if they designate him a transition player.

    The Steelers figure to address the other side of the line as well in the offseason.

    Their top five defensive lineman are all in their 30s and two of them — nose tackle Casey Hampton and defensive end Brett Keisel — are entering the final year of their contracts.

    “You want to add some young talent, if you can, at any position,” Colbert said, “but defensive line is probably one of the older positions on our team.”

    Notes: The Steelers have signed all of the players who finished the 2008 season on their practice squad to their roster. Included in that group is safety Ryan Mundy, a Woodland Hills High School graduate…The Steelers also signed former Canadian Football League running back Stefan Logan and are expected to give him a long look as a kick returner…The Steelers released defensive tackle Kyle Clement. The rookie had been on the reserve/injured list.

  12. I’d keep Starks. I don’t love Marvel Smith — never have. I’d see what’s out there and reserve the right to keep Starks at left tackle, though I’d prefer to play him at RT.

    I’m fine with Kemo at LG. If you keep Hartwig and Stapleton as 1 and 1A at center, I could live with that. Kendall Simmons at RG works for me as well. I think that’s a more solid line — but I’d love for them to snag a real anchor player at Center or Left Tackle.

    I think the other thing they need to consider is drafting guys with the speed and agility to block for Ben in the passing game. It’s one thing to have traditional road graders for the run game, but if they use zone blocking and don’t deploy a fullback anyway, I’d put less of a premium on size than speed, stamina and agility. When you think about it, what Starks has been able to do at 6’8″, 345 is pretty impressive. Still, I think they need to look for “fit” and talent.

    I don’t know if Mack played in the Senior Bowl.

  13. Even though I don’t love Marvel Smith, I don’t think his being 30 is a big deal. High-quality offensive linemen can play well into their 30’s at a very high level. Injured backs, though, tend to get worse — don’t they?

  14. T3 –

    Yep, bad backs aren’t good for folks in the trenches all the time. Might be time to let Smith go. An offensive lineman should definitely be a priority on the first day of the draft for the Steelers. That and defensive linemen.

  15. I did some research on this guy and he sounds promising. He played in the CFL and has been compared to Dante Hall and Darren Sproles:

    “Logan is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. He has scored as a runner, receiver, punt returner and kick returner in college. He has excellent speed and quickness, and shows the ability to hit top gear very quickly. Once he gets a step on you, he is not going to be caught.”

    “Logan has the explosiveness to make it in the NFL, in a similar role to Darren Sproles or Dante Hall. He has the all around skills as a runner, receiver, and return man to provide a variety of roles a player of his size has to be capable of.”

    http://www.footballsfuture.com/2007/prospects/stefan_logan.html

  16. The guy runs a 4.42. That’s not blazing fast — but you don’t need to be blazing fast. Stopping, starting, change of direction and vision are most important. I’d still feel better if he was a 4.24 guy.

    Maybe his short shuttle times were low-low 6’s.

    I definitely think the Steelers have to make some headway here. I thought they did a great job in coverage last year, but with Sepulveda kicking, cover guys will have to run farther and stay disciplined. This fullback, ball security business was getting tired.

  17. T3,

    I’ve seen some reports where he’s run a 4.35 & 4.38. Not sure if that makes a difference or not but I think his quickness, good hands and ball security is what really impressed the scouts.

  18. That’s good news. The Steelers need a game breaking return guy. The problem has always been that our best return guys are starting receivers — Swann, Louis Lipps, Santonio Holmes or DBs (Woodson, Ike Taylor).

    Randle-el was good — when he wasn’t fumbling. Ernie Mills was great in 1995.

    We’ve tried a lot of guys back there. I think the problem has to be something else — blocking schemes? I don’t know. 4.35 is encouraging.

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