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I want you to pause a moment and take in everything that today brings with it. This is opening day baby! Every member of Steeler Nation can smell the food on the grill, taste the ice cold beer, and hear the ominous chants as if they were in the parking lot of Heinz Field.
HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO! DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE – FENSE! AND THAT BRINGS UP A PITTSBURGH….. FIRST DOWN!
Go ahead, pick your chant. You know you want to… Another season of Pittsburgh Steeler football is upon us.
That being said, after a disappointing show in the preseason the Steelers seem like they have a lot of ground to make up. What was first reported to be a horrific injury to LeVeon Bell, our rising star running back, people are starting to come down on the big red panic button. However, we can relax a bit. It definitely is not as bad as first reported. Bell shouldn’t be out more than the first few games and then we can truly see what this phenom can do.
But I think the more important news on the injury front is that Troy is 100% healthy for the first time in a while to start the season. I know right? Even I can’t believe I’m saying it! No I’m not knocking on the hardest working player in football either, so draw back those claws. As a matter of fact, there are a multitude of players that are showing their best health. Even Heath was recently activated off the PUP list according to ESPN. Now I’m not certain how much, if any, playing time he’ll see. But I think the approach of “no news is good news” should be taken.
So with all the good news on the injury front, why such a dismal showing in the preseason? Well for starters the games don’t count. Yep, that’s right. I said it. THESE ARE PRACTIVE GAMES WHETHER YOU WANT TO ADMIT IT OR NOT. Granted these are practices with full pads, contact, and of course real life injuries. But it’s also the first chance teams get to see game worthy action as a whole. Considering there’s an entire 18 week season ahead of them, I can’t blame guys for attempting to stay in game form until the W’s count. Add on top of all that the steep learning curve. Coming out of college and having to learn an NFL style offense, much less one as complicated as Haley’s, is a daunting task to say the least. Even veteran players sometimes have an issue wrapping their heads around it immediately. Put that with the souped up tempo and grueling mental assignments, and all of a sudden life in the NFL becomes much less a fantastic dream and more a very exact, very calculated, wake up call.
One move by Coach Tomlin I didn’t understand was the abrupt release of Jonathan Dwyer. Personally I think he looked excellent when he ran the ball and even resembled a version of Jerome Bettis at times. I really thought the decision to cut someone would come down to Isaac Redman getting the boot. But as long as we show a decent run game, I can’t complain. Once again there are hints of a feud between Ben and Haley, though I think that storm has passed. According to multiple sources the bugs have been worked out. Of course the high flying offense is probably going to suffer a little bit, but as long as we win, does it really matter?
I’m going to end this entry with this thought. We need to keep the underdog theory alive and well. The critics, analysts, sportscasters, and most fans of other teams tend to look at a 0-4 run in the preseason and immediately count us out. All sorts of questions start to swirl and statements get thrown around. They’ve done it before and I don’t see them stopping any time soon. The more everyone discounts our abilities, the sweeter the reward when proving them wrong.
Look at it this way – if you had a dog that people kept denying food, and then those same people teased the thought of a meal only to take it away, what do you think will happen when the rope breaks?