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It was a “mid-30’s day off” for Ben Roethlisberger at the Steelers Wednesday practice.  No worries. Ben is fine. Just a veteran day off. The Steelers are 2-0 despite their offense looking sluggish at times, and that’s okay with Roethlisberger, for now, “You don’t want to be playing your best football right now. You want to find ways to win football games, and keep getting better, so that your best football is, hopefully, played in December and January.” Some of the injured players are slowly working their way back toward game action. Stephon Tuitt was a limited participant in practice. He says he’ll know on Thursday if he’ll be able to go on Sunday, but is optimistic he’ll be able to play. It’s a far cry from how he felt when he injured his biceps, “you ever watch like a sad lifetime movie? And cried and ate ice cream all night? No it was depressing to be in that situation. I like to be the life of the party. It was a sad moment, but I’m glad it’s not that.” And TJ Watt was also back on the field today in a limited capacity at practice. Watt left the field in the first half of the win over the Vikings on Sunday with a groin injury, but he told us that he’s feeling much better, “I knew completely it wasn’t anything serious and after getting the scans back and everything it proved I was right, and just knowing it was nothing serious and I can’t hurt it any more is good news for me. I’m just gonna take it day by day and see how I feel come Sunday.” Several other players did not practice in addition to Ben Roethlisberger. Jesse James has an ankle injury. Marcus Gilbert is dealing with a hamstring injury. Maurkice Pouncey and Darrius Heyward-Bey were out due to illness.

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The Steelers are unbeaten after two games. Yesterday’s win over the Vikings was far from perfect, but the Steelers showed a marked improvement over week one. Defensively, the Steelers had two sacks and survived a second-quarter groin injury to TJ Watt. He left the game and did not return, although Watt doesn’t seem to be concerned. Martavis Bryant caught a touchdown pass and led the Steelers with 91 receiving yards. Bryant caught a 27-yard pass for a touchdown and also pulled in a 51-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger. On the ground, Le’Veon Bell had 87 yards on 27 carries. Bell knows there’s lots of room for improvement, “we converted some big ones, even the way we were converting them, it wasn’t fluid, it was like Ben had to make a play, AB had to make a play, somebody had to make a crazy play to convert it. We gotta get in sync as an offense make routine plays happen, that’s what we’re striving for.”

100 years ago today, Honus Wagner retired from baseball at the age of 43. Wagner played 18 seasons for the Pirates. He was a World Series champ in 1909, had a lifetime average of .329 and won eight batting titles. Wagner was also an original member of baseball’s Hall of Fame. Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania have seen some incredible athletes: Roberto Clemente, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Arnold Palmer, Joe Greene and Terry Bradshaw, just to name a few. But don’t forget Pittsburgh’s first and perhaps greatest superstar—The Flying Dutchman!

Minnesota at Pittsburgh
The Steelers play their 85th home opener and prepare to honor the legacy of Dan Rooney. It will be an emotional day at Heinz Field. STEELERS

Cleveland at Baltimore
DeShone Kizer had a soilid NFL debut, but he’ll be under pressure again from the Ravens defense. RAVENS

Buffalo at Carolina
The Bills beat the Jets in week one, but they I don’t think they’ll win again on the road. PANTHERS

Arizona at Indianapolis
The Colts have a quarterback questions. I think the Cardinals will bounce back after a week-one loss. CARDINALS

Tennessee at Jacksonville
TITANS

Philadelphia at Kansas City
CHIEFS

New England at New Orleans
PATRIOTS

Chicago at Tampa Bay
BUCS

Miami at LA Chargers
CHARGERS

New York at Oakland
OAKLAND

Dallas at Denver
DALLAS

Washington at LA Rams
WASHINGTON

San Francisco at Seattle
SEATTLE

Green Bay at Atlanta
FALCONS

Le’Veon Bell is looking to get it going at full speed on Sunday against the Vikings. Bell had 10 carries for 32 yards on Sunday against the Browns. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley says that Bell isn’t his only concern, “It’s a fine line, you know, we do everything possible to try to get the quarterback going, to get the line going, to get the running back going, to get AB going. You got a lot of guys to think about, and the number-one thing is be efficient, and have success.”

 

The Steelers survived a scare on Sunday and beat the Browns by only a field goal. But Ben Roethlisberger understands that winning is all that counts. “It shouldn’t matter what your stats are. Stats are for individuals. Winning is for team.”  Roethlisberger was impressed with the Browns, “That is a really good defense. That team is going to surprise a lot of people. I am glad we played them game one.” Now the focus shifts to Sunday’s home opener versus the Vikings, a team coming off a win, and a solid defensive effort, against the Saints on Monday Night Football, “It’s early in the year so we’re never quite sure what we’re going to see.”  This will be Roethlisberger’s 14th home opener, and he’s hoping for a wild atmosphere, “I expect it, and I hope it will be loud, crazy.” Ben knows all to well how a loud crowd can give the Steelers a distinctive advantage, “We need to bring back that home field, Heinz Field kind of mystic,” and Roethlisberger added, “teams need to fear coming into Heinz Field, one because of the fans and the craziness, and two because of our play.”

The Steelers escaped Cleveland with a win.  It was far from perfect, but Mike Tomlin’s keeping things in perspective as the Steelers get out of the gate on the winning side, “AFC North game, week one against a worthy and hostile opponent.
We’re excited about getting the job done, obviously we got some work to do, but it’s great to do that work with a win in your back pocket.”

 

Le’Veon Bell is back with the Steelers, but his status for Sunday’s regular-season opener isn’t clear. Bell signed his franchise tender on Monday, and took part in his first practice. He’ll be on the field again today, but will he start, and how much will he play against the Browns? Mike Tomlin and the Steelers are taking a wait-and-see approach, “his participation or how much, we’ll continue to watch his progress throughout the week, not only what he’s able to execute from a conditioning, a football conditioning standpoint, but also from a quality of execution standpoint, a detail standpoint, and then see the cumulative effects of that work as we proceed.”

The Pirates made it official today with the announcement of four-year contract extensions for both field manager Clint Hurdle and general manager Neal Huntington. Hurdle was hired in 2011 and is now in his seventh season as manager.
His tenure has included 3 postseason appearances, but the Bucs are trying to recapture the magic. It’s unlikely, but the Pirates are trying to keep the pressure on for a playoff spot.  Hurdle is ecstatic, about the extension and about being with the Pirates, “number one, I’m proud to be a Pirate. I’ve got seven years of being a pirate.  I love what the organization stands for. I love the tradition, the legacy in so many different areas, see the photos in here, I really have an intense burning desire to be a small part of tradition moving forward.”

The Steelers are recognizing the best of the best with selection to the team’s new Hall of Honor.  The Inaugural class was announced on Tuesday morning at Heinz Field.  The first class includes 27 former players and coaches, in addition to Steelers founder Art Rooney, Sr, and late Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney.  23 of the 27 honorees are also members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Honor will be permanently showcased in the Great Hall at Heinz Field.  Here’s the complete list of the inaugural class for the Steelers 2017 Hall of Honor:

Art Rooney, Sr*
Dan Rooney*
Chuck Noll*
Johnny McNally*
Walt Kiesling*
Bill Dudley*
Bobby Layne*
Ernie Stautner*
John Henry Johnson*
Jack Butler*
Joe Greene*
Terry Bradshaw*
Mel Blount*
Jack Ham*
Jack Lambert*
Frank Harris*
Mike Webster*
John Stallworth*
Lynn Swann*
Rod Woodson*
Dermontti Dawson*
Jerome Bettis*
Kevin Greene*
LC Greenwood
Donnie Shell
Dick Hoak
Andy Russell

*member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame