With a little more than a fortnight to go before the opening of training camp, some morsels to whet the appetite:
* What’s expected to be the battle for the No. 3 quarterback job –
* Then again, the Steelers won a Super Bowl with Mitch Berger as their punter.
* Want-to is a big part of being good on special teams. Just ask Fred McAfee about that. Don’t recognize the name? Google him.
* Coach Mike Tomlin always looks for significant improvement from the players who will be going into their second NFL seasons. For the record, that list includes Landry Jones, Le’Veon Bell,
* There have been a lot of Chuck Noll stories that have surfaced since his death about a month ago, but here’s one that isn’t told very often: During the 1989 Wild Card Game in the Astrodome against the heavily-favored Houston Oilers, the Steelers found themselves in overtime. Rod Woodson made a great play to strip the ball from RB Lorenzo White and recover the ball to give the Steelers possession, and their offense now faced a third-and-8 from the Houston 33-yard line. As the offense broke the huddle, Noll said to defensive coordinator Rod Rust through his head-set, “If we don’t make this, we’re going to punt and pin them deep.”
Rust answered, “I don’t know if we can stop them again.”
It was a startling admission by a successful coach in an ultra-competitive business, but it also was an honest assessment, and Rust offered it to Noll at a critical stage where a bigger ego might have gotten in the way. It says as much about Noll that he responded to Rust and sent Gary Anderson onto the field to attempt a 50-yard field goal after that third-down pass fell incomplete. Anderson’s kick was down the middle and into the net. Game over.
It has been said that 1989 was the season when Chuck Noll turned in his greatest coaching job, and this is more evidence to support that claim.