The Steelers will play their home opener against the Seattle Seahawks tomorrow at 1pm. The final reports are in from practice this week.
As we all know by now, Colon is out and on the IR. Marcus Gilbert will get the start – look for this to be the key injury story. Jerricho Cotchery is still hampered by a hamstring injury. He is the only Steeler listed as ‘Out’ for tomorrow’s game. Bryant McFadden and Chris Kemoeatu are listed as ‘Questionable.’ McFadden is bothered by a hamstring and has had limited practice all week. Kemoeatu had fluid drained from his knee and has limited practice. Kemoeatu needs to play this game or the Steelers will be digging deep at the line again.
The Seahawks are banged up a bit with injuries on both sides of the ball. DE Dexter Davis (hip), OT Jarriel King (ankle), CB Byron Maxwell (ankle), WR Sidney Rice (shoulder) and RB Michael Robinson (ankle) are all ‘Out.’ LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring) is ‘Doubtful.’ G Robert Gallery (knee) is ‘Questionable’ and LB David Hawthorne is ‘Probable.’ Let me catch my breath. Most of the Seahawks depth chart is in tact with their starters on the defensive side. Something to keep an eye on for the Hawks is if Robert Gallery does not play. The left guard is questionable with a knee and could help to open up some holes for the Steelers’ pass rush if he does not play.
This is the first time the teams will have met since Super Bowl XL. And Mike Tomlin seems to care less about the history behind it all since he wasn’t a part of that victory. There are numerous new coaches to the Seahawks’ staff, including head coach Pete Carroll, so Tomlin’s experience with the Hawks while coaching for the Vikings doesn’t really matter either. His biggest familiarity with the Hawks lies in Tavaris Jackson, played QB on and off for the Vikings while Tomlin was there. Tomlin acknowledges him as a “quality dude and competitor.” Tomlin doesn’t take Seattle lightly saying this about their offensive front line, “What they lack for in experience they make up for in pedigree.” Tomlin says that the Steelers should be humbled by that loss from the Ravens and will try and use the anger generated that loss in a constructive and not destructive way.
Pete Carroll is in his second year of coaching the Seahawks. Carroll is not afraid to make the moves necessary to begin building a successful team – he made over 200 transactions in the first season alone. The team last year had a strong start going 4-2 but faltered. They still made the playoff – the only 7-9 team to ever do so. Carroll acknowledges that this is going to be a big matchup and is “as big as it can get.” Carroll expects to see improvements from his team and hopes that they can finish strong in the last four minutes, “something we didn’t do in the last game.” With that statement, it seems to me that Carroll is playing and maybe even expecting to keep this game a close one. The focus this week has been finishing at the line of scrimmage. James Carpenter was moved to the other side of the line last week and is looking to be on the side he usually plays on. When asked Carroll eluded that Carpenter was frustrated being on the side of the line and looked getting back to his usual spot at Right Tackle. Pete wants to run the ball well and frequently but still be able to ‘find the balance and the tempo that allows [them] to play.’ Someone actually asked Pete about point spread in Vegas (Steelers are favored by 14). Carroll could care less and says that they never even think about that stuff. What a dumb question.
The papers in Seattle are tipping their hat and giving the respect that is rightfully due to a team that was #1 in defense and were the AFC representatives in the Super Bowl. Of course, like everyone else and their mother, they are asking if the Steelers are too old and past their prime this season. An article that I came across that I found amusing was Danny O’Neil’s article about Bill Leavy. He claims that those in Seattle, though still think Leavy was in the wrong, have accepted and moved on from what they claim as one of the most controversial games in Super Bowl history as far as officiating goes. I guess he hasn’t come on this site and seen Seahawks fans troll their way on here to bitch and moan about the NFL wanting Bettis to get his ring – thus leading to Leavy’s ‘blatantly biased’ calls and reviews. All you have to do is go back to Todd’s and Adam’s articles about Super Bowl XL back in the spring to find that there are quite a few out there that are still vehemently defending the ‘Seahawks were screwed on purpose’ theory. Heck those articles were only written in response to comments that took place in a preview of this game all the way back in the spring. Talk about needing therapy.
Bill Leavy will be a no factor. It is still funny to think that he is the one officiating this game. But, I don’t expect him to make any ‘make-up calls’ to right past wrongs. Although the league is out to get the Steelers……
The Steelers, having come off a very tough loss to the Ravens, should be completely fired up and motivated this game. The Vegas line is 14. The Steelers should hold that line. The defense should be able to handle the young offensive line of the Seahawks. If they can’t, then maybe everyone should start panicking. Big Ben and the offense will look to give it a boost by running the no-huddle. I feel it isn’t necessary, but hopefully our line will hold up well and give Ben the time to find guys downfield during the no-huddle moments. Steelers should take this one 27-10.