The Pitt Panthers are now 3-1 after an impressive road win at Virginia Tech. Pitt held the Hokies to only NINE rushing yards on 33 carries. Virginia Tech also lost 57 yards on sacks. Great win for Pitt, thanks to an impressive defensive stand in Blacksburg. Pitt’s back home next Saturday with Virginia.
With the Steelers first practice of the week, Michael Vick officially takes over as starting quarterback. It’s never easy for a backup to take over the reins, but that’s especially true in a short week. Vick doesn’t expect radical changes in the offense, “you can’t change everything in one week. You just have to kind of go with what you got, and what I learned so far, you can’t go out there and improvise, you know, in a short week…change things around…a ton of good things in our offense. I think you got to go out there and let it work for you.” Ben Roethlisberger agrees, “We’ll tweak some things that utilize his strengths, you know, he’s a way better runner thanI am so maybe you’ll see some of that, but for the most part, I think you’ll just see our offense and see guys step up and play great football.”
Ben Roethlisberger has a high tolerance for pain, but what Ben is dealing with now is testing him. He says he’s trying to drink his milk to get back as fast as he can. Roethlisberger faced the media today and talked for the first time about his knee injury. Ben talked to reporters first thing this morning, but also watched the Steelers afternoon practice on crutches. He has an MCL sprain and a bone bruise after getting hit by Mark Barron of the Rams. Roethlisberger says he has no problem with how the play unfolded, “I thought it was a legal hit, I mean, excuse me, I don’t think it was a dirty hit I don’t think he was trying to take me out. According to the rules, it was a low hit and it should have been flagged, but I don’t think he was intentionally doing anything to hurt me. It’s tough because you ask a guy to get back up on his feet, and do something. So that’s what I said. I don’t think it was dirty. I don’t think he was intentionally trying to hurt me or anything like that. I think he was already kind of low. The best way he could go was to try and lunge for me.”
Just a thought as the Pirates get set to host the biggest three-game series in the history of PNC Park. Maybe tonight’s Super Moon Eclipse represents the start of Buctober a few days early. We have a big few days ahead.
Pittsburgh and Saint Louis will meet tomorrow. But this one is the NFL version. The Steelers will be take on the Rams. Tomorrow’s game marks the return of Le’Veon Bell from his D-U-I suspension. Deangelo Williams actually leads the A-F-C in rushing with 204 yards in two games in place of Bell. But make no mistake, this is Bell’s team, and he’s been chomping at the bit to return, “I’m eager to get back on the field, you know with the explosive offense we already had in the first two games, and just help us be that much more dynamic. I can’t wait. I’m ready to show people what I can do.”
The Steelers will be facing the Rams on the road this Sunday, and they better be ready for some noise. No doubt, it can get loud in the dome, but Steelers receiver Antonio Brown says that the offense has to tune it all out, “it’s a road game so we can’t let dome noise, we can’t let any of those things be a factor. We gotta be singularly focused on going in there and being our best.” The Steelers will also be facing one of the league’s best defensive linemen, former Penn Hills HS and Pitt star Aaron Donald, who’s looking forward to facing Ben Roethlisberger, “it’s gonna be pretty cool. I’ve been watching Big Ben since I was young and he took them to the Super Bowl, so I have an opportunity to play against him, but I’m still going out there trying to win. I’ll do my job and take it just like any other game. I want to sack the quarterback every week, but to get to him you have to have your big-boy pants on because he ain’t going down easy…just trying to get after him.”
The Steelers are standing behind Tight Ends coach James Daniel, who is accused of physically assaulting a fan in Foxboro on his way to the locker room at halftime of the NFL Kickoff game. The fan claims Daniel kicked him in the back of the leg, and then was shouting at police officers when he was questioned about it. Following an investigation, the Steelers see no evidence that any incident took place. Here’s the statement from Steelers president Art Rooney II, “After interviews with Coach Daniel as well as other personnel who witnessed the alleged encounter, we find no corroboration that coach Daniel was involved in any physical altercation with a fan. Coach Daniel has worked as an assistant coach for the Steelers for the past 12 seasons. We have a high level of confidence in his character and are confident that any further investigation of this incident will reveal he was not part of any assault or misconduct involving a Patriots fan.”
Some final thoughts on Michael Vick as a Steeler. It’s been 15 days since Vick was signed. He attempted 10 passes in two preseason games. The Steelers also faced a barrage of backlash in the days after the signing, but now that the dust has settled, here’s Steelers president Art Rooney II’s opinion of Vick, the decision to sign him, and the criticism of doing so: “Obviously we respect the opinions of people that have some concerns about Michael. Appreciate that they care enough to express their opinions. You know I think we did our due diligence on Michael and really just wanted to feel comfortable that he learned his lesson and that he’s sincere about being the kind of person we want to have on our team and that he’s doing what he can to make things right, and so we met with him…had a lot of discussions with him and just are comfortable that he was a player that we’d be OK with having on the team”
The Steelers will open the season on Thursday night with a considerable challenge. On a night when the Patriots will celebrate their most recent Super Bowl, the Steelers will have to figure out a way to stop Tom Brady. They’ll also enter their first game of 2015 without three important players on offense. Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant will be starting their suspensions, while center Maurkice Pouncey is out with an injury. Last season, Bell accounted for more than 2200 yards (rushing and receiving). Bryant was one of the team’s best players in the final 10 regular season games. Pouncey is an All-Pro center, and the anchor of the Steelers line. But the reality for Art Rooney, Mike Tomlin and the Steelers is that they have to try to win without them, and that’s why they’re focused on the players who will be in the lineup instead of the players who will not. Here’s Rooney’s opinion, “for this week, The guys that are here, The guys that are preparing to play in this game and we’re confident that the guys that are going to be on the field on Thursday night will be able to do the job”
We’re hearing from Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin about a federal judge’s decision that will allow Tom Brady to play in next Thursday’s opener against the Steelers. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman nullified a four-game suspension handed down to Brady over Deflate-gate. The NFL is appealing the ruling, but the league will not seek an emergency stay. That means, Brady will play despite the appeal. Coach Tomlin didn’t seem concerned, “I wasn’t a part of that process so I was waiting just like you guys, where I try not to worry about things I don’t have control over. If you’re preparing to play New England, you better be prepared to play against Tom Brady, and we’ve been proceeding with that mentality and thankfully we were.” So there are now three players out with suspensions for the NFL Kickoff game. For the Patriots, LeGarrette Blount will be serving the one-game suspension he received when he was with the Steelers last season. For the Steelers, Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant are also suspended, Bell (two games) for DUI and Bryant (four games) for violating the NFL Substance Abuse policy.