The steelers are starting to get some players back on the field on defense.Ike taylor was limited at practice on Thursday as he recovers from a broken forearm. Taylor had an unusual response to the question about when he would be back, saying he’d like to be like the character ‘Wolverine’ from X-Men. “I don’t know if you’re a fan of the X-Men, but I’m a fan of the Wolverine. The Wolverine kinda bounce back ASAP depending on what the injury is…(reporter question)…What do the doctors say? The doctors telling me you can think like a Wolverine. Ain’t nothing wrong with thinking like that, take your time so that’s why I say they got the governor on me.”

We live with a sports world filled with rhetoric and cliche. All week and every week, in news conferences and locker rooms, we hear how it was, is and will be. Well, i think we all know that it’s a lot easier to say the right things than it is to do the right things. It all sounds right until a game goes terribly wrong. The Steelers were on the wrong end of a rout in Cleveland. It’s a loss that could stick with them. It may even define them. We’ll find out. The steelers are 3-3 with 10 regular-season games to go. Make no mistake. For the Steelers, the easy part is in the rear view mirror. If you think there are any breathers left on the schedule, think again.

I think i know what some Steelers fans are thinking tonight. There’s no such thing as a bad win. I know. I’ve heard that many times, and on the surface, and in the standings, that might be true. But deeper down, in the core that makes or breaks a team, let’s just say this was a troubling win. The Steelers are short on swagger (after the last two games, that’s not a surprise). I could be wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time), but the Steelers appear to be a team waiting to unravel. The Steelers are 3-and-2, but the schedule will get tougher, and not easier. Cleveland’s next on the road. And the Steelers can’t afford a mistake by the lake. Beware the Browns!

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The NFL is once again making money off of a Pittsburgh Steelers player. The league fined lineman Cam Heyward $22,050 this week. Heyward was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct and using abusive language to a game official in the third quarter of last Sunday’s loss to Tampa. The Steelers brought in referees to practice this week to help sort out the Steelers penalty problems. Heyward didn’t address the fine, but did talk about the impact having the refs at practice might have, “You know it’ll help us to be more aware. You know more detailed in our work and hopefully we can take advantage of it and take it into the games this week.”

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A wise baseball man once told me that it’s tough to make the playoffs, but even tougher to make it back. I thought of that when the Pirates clinched a spot last week. We’ve all heard the criticism of owner Bob Nutting, and constant questions surrounding roster moves by General Manager Neal Huntington. Well, just making the playoffs won’t put an end to those negative opinions—only a World Series title would. But if you’re one of the naysayers, then before the start of the playoffs, throw some credit instead of criticism. Because even if it ends on Wednesday night, the Pirates have already done something that many said would never happen.

Wow! What a night. Buctober has arrived! The Pirates have clinched a spot in postseason for the second consecutive year (and on the same date as last year’s playoff-clinching game)! The team, and the organization that’s been questioned, doubted, and criticized gets the last laugh with a double play to clinch a spot in the playoffs! Here’s Tim Neverett’s call of the playoff-clinching double play, “…and Freeman, a bouncing ball to first, this could do it. There’s one…Pirates are going to the post season! Back-to-back Buctobers for the Buccos…”

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So what does the signing of 36-year-old James Harrison mean for the Steelers? First and foremost, Harrison brings veteran experience and leadership, both on and off the field. He also has a deep understanding of Dick LeBeau’s complex defense. But at his age, what will Harrison be able to do on the field? Mike Tomlin and his coaches will find the answer tomorrow, but here’s how Tomlin responded to that question at today’s news conference, “I think it’s to be determined. We nee to see what he is capable of doing before we etch out any role for him, or others. Right now Arthur Moats is the starter because he finished the last football game and played well.” On Wednesday, the Steelers start their week of practice in preparation for Sunday’s home game with Tampa Bay.

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It’ll be an exciting final week of the regular season for the Pirates. There are seven games to go, and the Bucs are moving closer to clinching a second straight postseason appearance. The “magic number” for the Pirates is 3. What does that mean?Well, any combination of wins by the Pirates or losses by the Brewers that add up to 3 will clinch a playoff spot for the Bucs. The Pirates could clinch a playoff spot as soon as tomorrow, and their football counterparts are watching. “Bucs Fever” has hit the Steelers locker room. Pittsburgh native Bruce Gradkowski is definitely watching closely, “We get in the QB meeting on Saturday night, you know, Todd, Ben, Randy, myself, Landry, we’re all talking about the Pirates. ‘What’d the Pirates do today? What’s the score? Aw, they need this one’ So it’s cool it’s neat to see the city all pulling for each other.”

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Random Steelers stat: in their first seven seasons as NFL head coaches, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin had identical records. IN those first 112 games, both Cowher and Tomlin were 71-41. Cowher hit a rough stretch in seasons seven, eight and nine. Tomlin is in his eighth season and trying to end a streak of consecutive .500 seasons. The Steelers showed great patience with Cowher during that mediocre run, and if this turns out to be another so-so season, I suspect they’ll show the same patience for Tomlin.

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With so many changes, it’s not the start the Penguins had wanted. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will both miss the start of training camp with injuries. But that’s a bit of a mystery too. Neither player was made available to talk today, and the Penguins didn’t comment on what their injuries are, other than to say it’s not a recurring injury to Crosby’s wrist. Meantime, Pascal Dupuis is another injured stars looking forward to getting back to action soon, “Day one of camp i’ll be wearing the red jersey no contact but i’ll be participating in every drill. Just to get back into it i guess after the first week I’ll be taking it off and starting to get some contact and that’s the story for me for the first week of camp.” The Pens hold their first actual practice on Friday morning.

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