Thursday, July 31, 2008

Throwback uniforms make a comeback

Pittsburgh will again wear its throwback uniforms this season - twice, both times at home - for the September 29 game against the Baltimore Ravens and October 26 game against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Casey Hampton "Physically Unable to Perform"

The Steelers have announced that Casey Hampton (conditioning), Troy Polamalu (hamstring) and Chris Kemoeatu (triceps) have all been placed on the team's Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and will be ineligible to practice (until removed from the list).

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mendenhall, Sweed sign contracts

Yesterday, the Steelers reached contract agreements with first-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall and second-rounder Limas Sweed. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mendenhall's contract is $12.55 million over five years, including $6.83 million in bonuses and guarantees of $7.125 million. Sweed received a four-year deal (typical for one of the Steelers' second-round picks), a less-than-ideal number of years, as it arguably facilitates the player leaving via free agency after four seasons (see Kendrell Bell, Antwaan Randle El and Chad Brown, for example).

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Will Mendenhall have fumbling problems?

I hate to point this out, but it seems like in every Rashard Mendenhall photo or highlight tape I see, it shows our rookie running back holding the ball away from his body (as opposed to tucked in high and tight). Ever since draft day I've wondered if he'd have fumbling problems in the NFL because of this tendency. A photo from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Web site (above, credit to Peter Diana of the Post-Gazette) illustrates this to a certain degree.

A photo from his college days at the University of Illinois (right), shows the tendency in a much more pronounced way.

To be sure, I've never seen Mendenhall play a single game, the photos/highlights usually don't feature him running in traffic, and a search of Google images does reveal college photos with what appears to be excellent technique (as well as photos with the ball low and/or far(!) from his body). Still, this issue has given me pause since day one. Any Illini or Steelers' fans have any thoughts about this?

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Steelers sign both sixth-round draft picks

The Steelers agreed to contract terms with two more draft picks yesterday: LB Mike Humpal (Iowa) and S Ryan Mundy (West Virginia). Both were sixth-round selections and each agreed to a three-year contract.

Humpal will receive a $71,600 signing bonus, and Mundy will get a $67,600 bonus. Assuming they make the roster, they will both earn $295,000 in 2008.

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McCain panders to Steelers' fans

In an interview with KDKA-TV (Pittsburgh) earlier this week, presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain told Jon Delano that he invoked the names of Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive linemen when he was a POW in Vietnam in 1967: "When I was first interrogated and really had to give some information because of the pressures, the physical pressures that were on me, I named the starting lineup -- defensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- as my squadron mates."

The problem is that in his 1999 best-selling book "Faith of My Fathers," McCain wrote, "I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron." Using the names of Packers' players makes more sense; after all, Green Bay was the "Team of the 1960s." Meanwhile, the Steelers were so bad throughout the sixties that even the most diehard Pittsburgh fan couldn't have named the team's defensive linemen without looking them up in a media guide. It wasn't until the following decade that the Steelers developed the "Steel Curtain," which included household names like Mean Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White.

A campaign spokesman called the snafu an "honest mistake," but I'm guessing that McCain was deliberately engaged in some shameless pandering. Knowing that Packers' offensive linemen like Forrest Gregg won't win any votes in Pittsburgh, McCain simply substituted names that would resonate.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Steelers sign draft choices Davis, Hills and Dixon

Pittsburgh came to terms with three of its seven draft picks yesterday, signing third-rounder Bruce Davis (LB, UCLA), fourth-round selection Tony Hills (OT, Texas) and fifth-round choice Dennis Dixon (QB, Oregon). According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Davis received a signing bonus of $506,000, while Hills got $304,500 and Dixon took in $130,000. All three received three-year contracts that pay NFL base minimum salaries of $295,000 in 2008, $385,000 in 2009 and $470,000 in 2010.

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