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  • Checkdown Audible: Why I almost wanted Jeff Reed back in Pittsburgh

    Jeff_Reed_Kicker_SteelersCheckdown Audible

    Jeff Reed.  Who can forget the man?  He was wild, crazy and prone to public urination.  He loved the juice – Rolling Rock, Iron City, Pabst Blue Ribbon.  Everything about Reed screamed that he’d spent recreational time in a straight jacket doing inverted sit-ups, but the guy was consistent.  He may have spent $400 on a bar tab on Friday night, but by golly he was kicking the air out of that ball on Sunday.

    Ok, so maybe all of that is a bit of an overstatement.  Like Hurricane Juaquim, Reed was a bit of a wild card.  But the guy also won two Super Bowls with the Steelers.  His recent campaign to get the Steelers to notice him, give him a chance to kick field goals – it didn’t go very far outside of Twitter, but it was a valiant effort.  #BringBackJeffReed was a trending topic at one time this past weekend, as was Reed’s name.  Alas, the Steelers did not call him.

    I wasn’t alone in looking back at what Reed did for the team.  Between 2002 and 2010, Reed was second all-time behind Gary Anderson for the most points score by a Steelers player.  During the 2005 AFC Divisional Playoff game against the New York Jets, he kicked a 33-yard field goal in overtime after Doug Brien (of the stinky green team) miss twice.  It wasn’t until November 3, 2008, that Reed’s streak of 189 consecutively successful PATs (210 including the post-season) ended.

    Ok, so the guy has had some off-field issues.  With 733 points to his name, we might have overlooked some of the shenanigans today – he’s a lot older, perhaps more mature?  He was cited for public intox, disorderly conduct and yes, was with Matt Spaeth who was cited for urinating in public.  Wait, you thought it was Reed who gave the outdoors the watering? Nope. Matt flippin’ Spaeth (who is still with Pittsburgh by the way).  Reed decided he wasn’t going to get into his SUV, having Spaeth’s proverbial back when nature called and the police didn’t find it very helpful, or funny.

    I respect that the Steelers went looking for a guy who can kick some pretty crazy onside kicks and was a Rice Owl.  Chris Boswell has no dirty laundry and comes in with a clean slate.

    Reasons I almost wanted Reed back:

    • Fabulous hair
    • A tremendous sense of inhibition
    • The kind of rowdy attitude I like to see in a guy that basically stands on the sidelines for the better part of a game and season
    • Feisty enough to jack Steve Smith if he got the opportunity
    • Willing to urinate on opposing teams’ fields if needed for mojo
    • A face only a mother and his pet could love unconditionally

    Join me for just one minute in giving Reed some respect…

    Ok, now join me in one of the best music videos made in the 21st Century.

  • Between the Hashmarks: Can Martavis Bryant Get Back In Good Graces With Steelers, Self?

    Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have exercised quite a bit of patience with young receiver Martavis Bryant as he has focused on the substance abuse issues that found him suspended for four weeks. Bryant’s initial suspension may have looked, initially, to have been a minor issue. Beneath the surface, Bryant was exorcising some demons the Steelers kept close to the vest.  Head coach Mike Tomlin, like the Steelers staff, couldn’t elaborate on Bryant due to league policy, but during his time away from the team it was clear he had deeper issues.  The question now is whether Bryant can return without suspicion and recreate a chemistry with his teammates and the coaching staff.

    On Monday, Bryant exited the Steelers locker room in his uniform, but his trials aren’t over.  Even if he is able to get ready for next Monday night’s game against the San Diego Chargers, he has a long road ahead to recovering confidence in himself and those around him.

    “I’ve been through a lot these last few weeks, so it feels good to be back,” Bryant admitted before going into more detail about his off-field issues. “I sought out help outside of the facility to be more focused…now, I’m back here focused and better prepared to move forward with my career.

    Bryant spent three weeks of treatment in Houston, Texas; he needed some life counseling on top of a reality check on the issues surrounding his use of banned substances. That he recognized he needed help speaks to a level of maturity as many who need help often do not seek it out.

    “I learned a lot about myself, especially from the mistakes I’ve made. Just learning from my mistakes and how to prevent mistakes from happening. Just about becoming a better man,” Bryant said.  “I learned from it and I just want to move forward. I’m going to put everything in the past and work on becoming better from it, and a better football player.”

    Bryant got support from a teammate in Ben Roethlisberger.  As anyone who has been through any type of treatment or extensive counseling will tell you; support is key to success.  Roethlisberger kept in communication daily, something Bryant admitted helped him greatly.

    “I highly appreciate him doing that, taking the time to text me every morning,” said Bryant. “Especially, during the season when he was focused on his job.”

    During his time between counseling, Bryant focused on twice-a-day workouts: lifting weights, conditioning and even catching passes from a trainer to stay in shape physically.  And, even if he couldn’t be with the team physically, Bryant kept track of his teammates and their progress.

    “We’re going to keep developing our chemistry and just make sure we are ready on Monday,” Bryant said.  “We just have to continue to work and progress.”

    Progress will not be easy. While Bryant has been away, Darrius Heyward-Bey moved into his role.  Bryant may be physically ready, but the mental aspect of the game will be one that will test him on a deeper level.  Confidence in himself and confidence in his teammates will take time, and the road back from an experience such as the one Bryant faced even tests friendships.  His hardest test yet may be rediscovering his place in the locker room and on the field while he continues to work through personal demons.

    Bryant’s demeanor on Monday was cheerfully optimistic.  If he can set his focus on a better future – for himself and then his teammates – Bryant may just have made an important life change that has enormous potential.

  • Ryan Shazier returns to Steelers practice

    Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen their share of early injuries thus far in 2015. Linebacker Ryan Shazier has worked through a few of his own.  On Monday, Shazier returned to practice after missing two games after a stinger (shoulder) sidelined him late in the game against the San Francisco 49ers.

    Saying he’s feeling a lot better, Shazier added, “I just want to be back out there with my guys.”

    In his first two games of the 2015 regular season, Shazier had 22 tackles, including 16 solo stops, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The injury came on a tackle, pinching the shoulder in an injury that is both painful and often requires time to relieve the pressure placed on the neck and shoulder that results in stiffness and a lack of range of motion.

    It isn’t clear if Shazier will be ready in time for the Steelers’ Monday night showdown with the San Diego Chargers yet, but Shazier is preparing for the eventuality.

    “I am going to do whatever I have to do to get back out there with them,” Shazier said.

  • Roethlisberger On Target to Return by Chiefs Game October 25th According to Report

    Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers

    The news on Steelers franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger is good, as Jason LaCanfora is reporting that the quarterback “has made positive strides in his first week since suffering a knee injury” and could be back as early as the Steelers October 25th game at Kansas City against the Chiefs, who are 1-3 after a loss to the Bengals on Sunday.

    Obviously only not having Ben gone for another two weeks would be a monster lift for the franchise. In the next two games they play at San Diego on Monday night against a Chargers team that had to go to the last minute to beat the very bad Cleveland Browns, and then they host the Arizona Cardinals, a team that lost the Rams yesterday at home.

    Yes, the same Rams team that the Steelers beat last week in St.Louis and held to just six points.

    Roethlisberger was already off crutches Thursday night when the Steelers played the Ravens, just four days after the initial injury in St.Louis.

    LaCanfora stated in the piece that the QB is moving well, according to team sources, and his MCL is on target for a four-week return.

    Here’s hoping with more practice under his belt Michael Vick will be even better than he was vs the Ravens, and with a new kicker that maybe won’t miss two field goals per game like Josh Scobee did, the Steelers will enter the Chiefs game at 4-2 and with their starting QB back under center.

  • Steelers To Ink Kicker Chris Boswell; Say So Long to Josh Scobee

    Rice Practice

    The Steelers moved quickly from Thursday’s disaster against the Ravens, as today the team is set to ink kicker Chris Boswell to take over for Josh Scobee.

    The move comes less than 48 hours after two missed field goals in the fourth quarter led to an overtime loss on Thursday night. The fans have not been kind to Scboee following the loss. It’s the second game in he has missed two field goals. He missed two in the season opener vs New England.

    Scobee was 3-for-7 on the season in field goal attempts.

    Boswell tried out for the team and will sign a deal according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.

    The Steelers have had a tough season with kicker, as they lost both Shaun Suisham and Garrett Hartley to injury.

    Boswell played his college ball at Rice, and was undrafted. He did spend time with the Texans and the Giants, and has yet to kick in a regular season affair.


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