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Tag:Ben Roethlisberger
Posted on: July 14, 2011 1:57 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 2:12 pm
 

Hot Routes 7.14.11: Just who is Greg Cosell?



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Andy Benoit, writing for the NY Times, profiles Greg Cosell of NFL Films. You might know Cosell as one of the most knowledgeable (non-coach, non-player) observers in the NFL.
  • Falcons fifth-round draft pick Jacquizz Rodgers is taking classes at Oregon State to finish up his degree, just like he, his mom and his uncle had agreed he would. After all, it’s not like he can study his playbook at this point.
  • According to Forbes, via PFT, the Cowboys are the second-most valuable sports franchise in the world, worth $1.86 billion. The Redskins ($1.55 billion) and the Patriots ($1.37 billion) come in at fourth and sixth, respectively.

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Posted on: July 14, 2011 11:14 am
Edited on: July 14, 2011 9:55 pm
 

What else did Harrison tell magazine reporter?

HarrisonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

In an interesting admission today, the writer of the controversial James Harrison piece for Men’s Journal magazine told Harrison to do whatever he needs to do in order to make peace with his quarterback.

“We talked about 11 o’clock yesterday morning,” Paul Solotaroff told ESPN radio, via Pro Football Talk. “Look, James is the guy who’s got to live with Ben for the next three years.... So as I told James, ‘Listen, whatever you’ve got to say to mend fences is perfectly fine with me.’”

That’s why Harrison told Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger that Solotaroff twisted his words in the story.

But it also sounds like Solotaroff didn’t use all the quotes he could have, and apparently, Harrison got really nasty in the interview (it, of course, would be a surprise if Harrison wasn't nasty)

Harrison's Big Day
“I filled up three notebooks, I don’t know how many hours of digital tape, and I cut so much stuff from this piece,” Solotaroff said. “There is just acres of stuff James said that’s compelling and amusing and riveting. And that wasn’t the only thing he said about Ben.”

In addition to bashing Roethlisberger and RB Rashard Mendenhall in the piece that ran -- he also said some not-so-nice things about commissioner Roger Goodell -- Solotaroff left on the cutting room floor the quote in which Harrison called Cleveland’s Colt McCoy “an idiot kid quarterback.”

But you know what’s also kind of weird about this interview? Solotaroff seems like a HUGE fan of Harrison.

“I was furious at the way James got done by Goodell last year,” Solotaroff said. “I thought making him the poster boy for this abrupt and arbitrary rule change . . . was about the most wrongheaded thing you could do, particularly since Goodell seemed bent on singling James out.”

That’s fine for Solotaroff to feel that way. But now it sounds like Solotaroff is protecting Harrison from getting into even more trouble, simply because he likes Harrison so much.

And when you basically admit to that in a radio interview, your credibility as an objective reporter will get called into question. As it should be.

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 2:39 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 3:19 pm
 

Pryor to work out with QB coach George Whitfield

Posted by Ryan Wilson

We joked yesterday on the Eye on Football podcast that Drew Rosenhaus took a break from preaching the gospel of Terrelle Pryor (he's a first-round pick!) to announce that another of his clients, Terrell Owens, will start in the NFL this season despite his age (37) and recent surgery for an ACL injury.

But today it's back to Pryor, the former Ohio State quarterback who has yet to play one down in the NFL. He'll enter the supplemental draft, which will take place in the coming weeks assuming the owners and players can agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

In preparation for that eventuality, Pryor has been working out. And we're not just talking about the Rosenhaus-produced highlight tape, either. According to the Canton Repository, Pryor will train with renowned quarterback coach George Whitfield, who has also worked with Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger.

“It is my understanding I am heading (to Miami),” said Whitfield. “I look forward to working with him. From a kid that grew up in Ohio and knows how important the Buckeyes are and my relationship with Coach Tressel and his relationship with Coach Tressel ... on top of the fact he’s talented and a big competitor. It’s a challenge to me. I know Terrelle wants to be as good as he can be.”

Opinions vary about Pryor's NFL stock though most analysts peg him as a late-round pick. Rosenhaus says Pryor is an NFL quarterback, while others speculate that Pryor might have to change positions to stick in the league. Whitfield disagrees.

“I almost jumped off the couch when I heard that (Pryor might have to move to tight end),” he said. “They put in all their chips against him, and made a definitive statement about a guy who is 31-4 at one of the more premier college programs in America.”

It's no secret that Pryor needs to improve his footwork in the pocket and that's what Whitfield aims to do.

“The big thing is I’ve got to get him more familiar with his operation in the pocket in terms of footwork and throwing from the pocket,” he said. “Of the guys I’ve worked with, Pryor has played more under center than any of them. It’s not that he’s deficient in that area, but it’s what the NFL wants. The league puts a premium on operation from the cockpit, and we’ll work on that.”

Working with Whitfield certainly can't hurt, although Pryor will have to show substantial progress to raise his draft stock. But it's worth remembering that, despite Rosenhaus' "first-round" proclamations, the journey doesn't end for Pryor after the draft. That's when it begins. Wherever he ends up, he'll sit on the bench for a couple seasons, learn the nuances of the position and go from there.

The long-range plan sometimes gets obscured by all that comes before it -- the scandal, the Rosenhaus hype, the media response -- but on the right team Pryor could very well find his niche. The trick is making a match.

(In related news: it sounds like the Ravens aren't interested)

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Posted on: June 25, 2011 10:48 am
Edited on: June 25, 2011 2:19 pm
 

Big Ben's foot is fine, still might need surgery

RoethlisbergerPosted by Josh Katzowitz

For Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, the lockout hasn’t been a terrible occurrence. For one, he’s had the time to finalize his plans to get married in late July (where apparently -- and strangely -- it’s drawing comparisons to the royal wedding). And for two -- and for most likely the reason you would care about -- is because it’s allowed his broken right foot to heal.

“It's doing really good,” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on Friday. “It's healed up. Obviously, it helps when I'm not cutting and planting and doing all of these different activities. It's really come a long way. I haven't had too many problems with it recently."

He had plenty of problems with it last year, first breaking it and then aggravating it later in the season against the Bills in late November. In fact, the pain got so bad that there were times during practices and games when Roethlisberger wasn’t sure he could even walk.

Now he feels better, though Roethlisberger said he ultimately might need surgery on the foot (an option he actually considered after last season).

"I could have had surgery, but according to the doctors it would have been a really nasty process because of where the break was. It was better off trying not to do anything," Roethlisberger said. "It's going to be something where we're just going to have to, in essence, play it by ear. If it continues to be as painful as it was at the end of last year, then I'm going to probably have to have the surgery."

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Posted on: June 22, 2011 9:24 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 9:27 am
 

Big Ben backs Plax return to Steelers

On Tuesday, my colleague Ryan Wilson wondered whether or not Plaxico Burress could end up back with his original team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. As Ryan noted, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the possibility.

Apparently not one of them, though: Ben Roethlisberger's support. That's because Ben apparently is down with bringing Plax back to Pittsburgh.

"I've talked to Plax a number of times in the last couple of weeks," Roethlisberger said, per Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I told him, 'Hey, if you came back here that would be awesome, but I'm just happy to see you playing again' because he's a good guy."

As Wilson pointed out, there are a number of problems with bringing Burress back to Pittsburgh. Namely, are there even enough footballs to go around in order to find out if Plaxico's still got it after 20 months in the hole?

Right now, the Steelers are staring at a wide receiver corps that features Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. (Presumably, Antwaan Randle El would be the casualty of a Burress signing.)

But maybe -- as we've noted in previous discussions tying Plax to Philly -- that's the best possible situation for the former first-rounder. After all, if he can step in as a big end-zone target, he'll only help to diversify an already stout group of wideouts.

And as far as public relations go, well, it's not as if dealing with off-field issues would be something new for the 2011 Steelers either.

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:30 am
 

Could Plaxico Burress end up back in Pittsburgh?

Posted by Ryan Wilson

We spent a lot of time Monday explaining why the Steelers should pass on 36-year-old running back Tiki Barber (you'd think the phrase "36-year-old running back" would suffice in scaring off potential suitors; apparently not). But Barber's not the only former NFL player on the wrong side of 30 looking for gainful employment.

Plaxico Burress, fresh out of prison and more than two years removed from his last NFL game, wants to get back in the league. Interest has been lukewarm, although that may change once the lockout ends and free agency begins.

For now, though, Sports Illustrated's Peter King is "mind-boggled" by the tepid interest in Burress. King writes: "Just stupid. In the right offense he'll be the big target many teams lack, and, if healthy, he'll catch 60-plus balls and be a good deep threat. At worst? He's not going to cost much. What's the downside? Rams, Browns? Tell me. I'm dying to know."

Well, one team that appears to be interested also drafted Burress in 2000. Yep, the Steelers.

Twitastic details via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat reporter Gerry Dulac.

"Steelers coaches are interested in Burress but depends on price. They would release Randle El to make room."

We have little trouble believing the Steelers would release Antwaan Randle El. By the end of the season, he had lost his job to rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. And while Randle El is a valuable locker room presence, he doesn't have much left as a player.

Whether that means Burress could replace him is another conversation. Ben Roethlisberger has long supported Burress and lobbied the organization to keep Burress when his contract expired after the 2004 season.

Roethlisberger has also said previously that he likes throwing to tall targets, even though, on average, height doesn't have any bearing on a wide receiver's effectiveness. For recent proof, just look at Limas Sweed. Of course, if Dulac is right, Steelers coaches might consider Burress the type of player they were hoping Sweed would grow into.

In the end, we remain skeptical about Burress returning to Pittsburgh. The Steelers have Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Sanders at the top of the depth chart, and Brown will likely be the No. 4 wide receiver. We're not sure there are enough snaps to go around. Or more importantly: what type of player Burress will be after spending more than 20 months in prison.

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 5:46 pm
 

Why Tiki to the Steelers doesn't make sense



Posted by Ryan Wilson

The three most talked about players in recent weeks -- Terrelle Pryor, Plaxico Burress and now Tiki Barber -- combined for exactly zero yards, zero touchdowns and zero games played last NFL season. Or the one before that. In fact, only Burress has seen an NFL field at all since 2007; Barber retired in 2006, and Pryor was in college until he had a sudden change of heart earlier this month.

All three are looking to get (back) into the league, and all appear to face long odds. To varying degrees, they come with baggage, and Burress and Barber are on the wrong side of 30. Our focus here is on Barber since Sports Illustrated's Peter King mentioned him in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Specifically, King spins the Wheel of Educated Guesses on possible Barber landing spots this summer, and it came up Pittsburgh.

Let's breakdown King's reasoning line by line:

"The Steelers have a head coach the Barber family knows well -- Mike Tomlin is close to twin Ronde Barber after coaching him in Tampa from 2001 to 2005 and also knows Tiki."

Tomlin also knows Michael Vick well; they both grew up in Newport News, Va. And you know what? When Vick was released from prison and was mounting a return to the NFL, the media connected the dots, and rumors of a Tomlin-Vick reunion followed. Vick eventually signed with the Eagles.

In August 2009, Tomlin told NFL Network's Deion Sanders why the Steelers didn't pursue Vick.

"I spent some time with Mike this summer. Mike's from my hometown, I've known Mike a long time," Tomlin said. "It was bigger than business for me. There were gangs and so forth when I grew up there, but when you played ball, you played ball. It was different. They respected what you did, and you kept it moving.

"Where we're from now gangsters play ball," he continued. "I believe that his redemption and his second opportunity is pivotal for those young guys from my area to see a guy come through the other side and make it right.

"In terms of [the Steelers being interested in Vick], to be quite honest with you, our quarterback is going through some things of his own right now, and he needs my complete support and undivided attention. So it just wasn't the appropriate time for us to consider something of that nature."

At the time, there were plenty of skeptics; Vick had been an inconsistent quarterback before the stint in Leavenworth, and the thinking went that his best chance at NFL redemption might come with a position change -- maybe running back, wide receiver or wildcat specialist.

Instead, Vick waited his turn and when he finally got on the field, he seized the opportunity, played out of his mind and led the Eagles to the playoffs. But Vick was also just 30 last season; he still possessed the physical skills that made him one of the NFL's most dangerous quarterbacks before dogs and the legal system led to his downfall.

"Tomlin wouldn't be afraid of the sideshow Tiki Barber might create, nor would he be shy about pulling the plug if the 36-year-old back couldn't beat out the likes of Mewelde Moore."

That's exactly what Tomlin would be afraid of. Referring again to Tomlin's 2009 conversation with Sanders about Vick: "…[T]o be quite honest with you, our quarterback is going through some things of his own right now, and he needs my complete support and undivided attention." It sounds like there's only so much "support and undivided attention" to go around.

And while the Steelers have had their share of distractions in recent years -- from Ben Roethlisberger twice being accused of sexual assault to James Harrison's $100,000 in fines last season to the more benign Jeff Reed duking it out with a Sheetz bathroom towel dispenser -- that doesn't mean the organization welcomes it. It's hard to tell sometimes, but they're not running a halfway house.

(Remember: Santonio Holmes -- the Super Bowl XLIII MVP -- was shipped out of town for several drug-related incidents, including an impending four-game suspension. No one thought the fifth-round pick the Steelers got from the Jets for Holmes was fair value, but the organization had run out of patience with the mercurial wide receiver.)

Putting aside the media circus Barber would bring with him to Latrobe, Pa., there's a bigger concern: He's 36. When Barber called it quits after the 2006 season, he was one of the best running backs in the league. But as we've written several times lately, running backs are among the easiest positions to replace. There's no reason to spend large chunks of the salary cap (or use high draft picks) to get a back when equivalent talent can usually be found on the cheap.

Any team willing to give Barber a shot would probably give him a contract offering the league minimum. But at 36, Barber has, what, a year, maybe two years left? That means clearing a spot on the 53-man roster, one previously occupied by a young, low-cost back being groomed for a larger role down the road. Instead, the Steelers get Barber, who's closer to 40 than 30, and hasn't played a meaningful game in nearly five years. It doesn't make sense.

For fun, we looked back the past 15 years at the RBs who were at least 35 years old and played in the NFL.



Not surprisingly, it's populated with fullbacks who made their living as glorified offensive lineman and weren't relied on to actually carry the ball. Of the 12 players listed, none cracked 1,000 rushing yards for a season, and when we look only at true running backs, we're left with five names: Emmitt Smith, Marcus Allen, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers and Hershel Walker.

Of these, only Allen was productive after the age of 35. (In fact, from age 35 to 37, Allen was a top-5 back, according to Football Outsiders. That's mind-blowing, frankly.)

In 2004, Smith ran for 937 yards, but compared to the other RBs in the league, he was well below average. Football Outsiders ranked him next to last among all RBs that season, ahead of the Bears' Anthony Thomas.

So even if Tomlin has a relationship with Barber and thinks he can handle the media scrutiny, the bottom line (because the NFL is a business, after all) remains the same: can Tiki produce?

History says no, unless you think Barber is the next coming of Marcus Allen. We do not.

The Steelers have a core of veteran stars; Tiki Barber would fit right in. The Steelers have a good back, Rashard Mendenhall, but no back-of-the-future type who Barber would be robbing playing time from. And one NFL source tells me Barber really wants a shot to play in Pittsburgh.

We have no doubt that Barber wants to play in Pittsburgh. NFL Network's Albert Breer hears that Barber wouldn't mind suiting it up in New England, either.

Regarding Pittsburgh's "core of veteran stars," why would Tiki "fit right in," as King suggests? Here's what CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last month, after Barber compared himself to Anne Frank:

"I covered Barber for most of his career and he remains one of the most versatile backs I've seen. He was also among the most arrogant. Most Giants players hated Barber. I mean, hated him. They thought he was a pompous putz on a lifelong journey to show the world he was smarter than most of his football peers."

The Patriots have a history of taking flyers on guys with character concerns (Corey Dillon and Randy Moss immediately come to mind), but that's not the Steelers' M.O.

But maybe this time is different. Maybe Tomlin makes an exception for Barber, who admitted that depression led him back to football after he couldn't deal with losing his $2 million-a-year gig with NBC. Now, he wants another shot at NFL glory.

Still, we can't get past Barber sounding as if he's coming out of retirement for all the wrong reasons. And even though he's not the type of player the organization usually pursues in free agency, perhaps the Rooneys will have a sudden change of heart. We just wouldn't count on it. Since, you know, the Steelers said months ago that they weren't interested.

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 4:41 pm
 

The Steelers have been working out apparently

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You haven’t heard much about the Steelers participating in player-led workouts, because it seemed as if nobody was really sure whether the AFC champions were actually working out together.

Well, according to QB Ben Roethlisberger, the team HAS practiced together during the lockout. He just hasn’t let you know about it. Until now, I suppose.

"That's kind of how I am,” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “To me, it's not about letting the world know we're doing it. As long as we know we're doing it, that's all that matters. That's just how we operate and how I operate. I've gotten some letters from people, I've heard some things like 'Why aren't you working out?' Well, we are working out. We've probably worked out more than most teams. It's just that we choose to keep it quiet."

So, um, how are the workouts going?

"It's going great,” he said. “We've worked out, linemen, running backs, tight ends, everybody. All of the offense. It's gone really well. We've had some good progress, just to kind of refresh people's memories on audible calls or no-huddle calls, little things like that."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com