JC's Super Bowl Blog: Saturday

The Chicago Bears aren't anywhere near Super Bowl XLIII, but Bear Report is still out and about in Tampa. Be sure to bookmark JC's Super Bowl Blog, which is updated several times daily, from the site of Steelers vs. Cardinals. From pressers to parties to game day, it promises to be all kinds of entertaining.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Pool Report

Courtesy of Peter King:
The Pittsburgh Steelers, appearing loose and relaxed for the third straight day, hustled through their final major practice prior to Super Bowl XLIII Friday at the University of South Florida, and coach Mike Tomlin said his team was completely healthy heading into the Sunday night game against the Arizona Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium. All 53 players, including wide receiver Hines Ward (right knee strain), practiced without restriction in unseasonably chilly conditions for an hour and 50 minutes.

Ward and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, speared in the kidney area during the AFC Championship Game 12 days ago, looked sharp. Roethlisberger executed several efficient red zone and goal-line plays, finding tight end Heath Miller for a couple of scores.

The Steelers will conclude their practice week with a short walk-through session on USF's two football practice fields Saturday at 10 a.m. before the club changes lodging Saturday afternoon from their Tampa hotel to a private location in the Tampa Bay area to ensure privacy and a good night's sleep before Sunday's game.

"I feel great about our preparation," coach Mike Tomlin said at the close of practice. "Of course, you evaluate your preparation by your performanc e in the game, but I think the guys understand everything they have to do entering the game."

Tomlin says his team is completely healthy for Sunday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Steelers implemented the gameplan for the Super Bowl last week at their Pittsburgh practice facility. The Wednesday, Thursday and Friday practices in Tampa were mirror workout of what the team did last week.

"This week was a re-do," he said. "We didn't have the sense of urgency we might normally have in a practice week, but that's because the guys have seen it all once."

Tomlin said he thinks his team is ready to play, and isn't worried about the condition of any his players. He said Ward's status for the game "never was a question." It's now clear Ward will be in Sunday's starting lineup.

Practice began at 11 in a light rain with a temperature of 55 degrees, a drop of 22 degrees from Wednesday's week-opening practice. Working with piped-in crowd noise at the snap of the ball, the Pittsburgh first-team offense and defense worked on third-and-short, goal-line, red-zone and nickel situations. As he has done all week, backup quarterback Byron Leftwich, playing the scout team, gave an effective look of Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner, putting air under his deep balls the way Warner does.

Arizona Cardinals Pool Report

Courtesy of John Czarnecki:
The sun came out for the final 45 minutes of practice as the Arizona Cardinals wrapped up their last major day of work in preparation for Super Bowl XLIII. The team plans a final walk-through Saturday morning for about 30 minutes at the Tampa Bay Bucs' facility. They will not be visiting Raymond James Stadium prior to the game.

"I thought it was a good week of work," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said after practice. "You always wonder when you go on the road and your team is practicing in another facility if your team is going to have the consistency that you've had. No question that it helped us that we've already done this once this season."

Whisenhunt was referring to the week-long stay the Cardinals made in the Washington, D.C. area between the Sept. 21 game against the Redskins and the following Sunday's a game in the Meadowlands against the New York Jets.

"I think it got us used to staying in a hotel, practicing on someone else's field while also having to bus around all week," he said. "These were very similar conditions this week."

Whisenhunt spent some extra time Friday on punt protection. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Starting quarterback Kurt Warner may have had his best throwing day of the week on Friday, misfiring on only three passes during the two hour and 20-minute practice.

"Kurt looked like he's been looking," Whisenhunt said. "He was consistent and made some good throws. He looked sharp."

The Cardinals spent a concentrated period of time in the middle of practice working on punt protection, but the highlight of special team drills was when kicker Neil Rackers bounced three consecutive 20-yard field goals off the second-floor windows of the Bucs' facility."

"It seemed like it fired up a lot of the guys," Whisenhunt said. "I think some of them wanted to see [a window go]."

Whisenhunt declined to reveal what he said to his players in a three-minute huddle at the end of the day. And also whatever plans he has for the weekend. His team will have a curfew Friday and Saturday night. The last no-curfew night for the players was Tuesday.

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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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