Ben drinks, sings, maybe laughs

The topics never run dry here in frigid Dallas as fans being to file in.

DALLAS – Ben Roethlisberger, reportedly, was drinking and singing Tuesday night, and the media was buzzing about it Thursday at another media day for the Steelers.

Coach Mike Tomlin killed the buzz, though, with extreme prejudice.

"I am not concerned about that one iota," said Tomlin. "It's normal for guys to eat dinner, believe it or not, every now and then during the course of the week leading up to a game. So this week is no different than any other. I understand that some things may be reported and viewed differently, but that's not our concern, really. During the course of the season, believe it or not, guys live lives."

Roethlisberger, of course, was asked to explain his whereabouts.

"It was superstition and tradition," he said. Tuesday nights I take my linemen out to dinner and we went to a great barbecue spot. We went there and wanted to listen to some live music, so we went to a piano bar. We just had an enjoyable night."

The initial report by TMZ had Roethlisberger missing curfew. The Steelers' quarterback took exception.

"We have a one o'clock curfew," he said. "I heard that the crack TMZ staff … that I was out past then, but really we were home way before curfew."

The night out certainly had no affect on Roethlisberger's practice performance. After Thursday's workout, pool reporter Peter King wrote that "he's ready to play." King reported that Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes to Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Heath Miller and Emmanuel Sanders.

POUNCEY NEARS ‘WITCHING HOUR'

Maurkice Pouncey isn't breaking curfew, but "it's getting to be the witching hour" for him, according to Tomlin. The rookie center missed another practice Thursday with his sprained ankle.

"He's going to have to show us something very soon," Tomlin said of a player who has only one practice to show he can play in Sunday's Super Bowl.

If he sits, as expected, his loss would be felt. Tomlin yesterday called Pouncey "without question the best rookie football player I've ever been around." And Tomlin coached on a Tampa Bay team with Cadillac Williams, the 2005 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

"I don't care whether or not he wins Rookie of the Year, or what other people think about him," Tomlin said of Pouncey. "His contributions to this football team have been nothing short of miraculous. He's extremely talented, but more importantly than that he has unbelievable football character."

INJURY REPORT

Bryant McFadden hasn't been on the injured list this week with the strained abdomen that cost him most of the first playoff game and a start in the second. He said he's not 100 percent, but at least he's not as bad off as he was the last time he played the Packers.

McFadden injured his sternum early in last season's playoff game, and then played hurt the following week and played poorly in the loss that eliminated his Arizona Cardinals.

"It hurt to breathe," McFadden said. "Inhaling, moving, cutting, there was constant pain. I didn't get a shot so I had to bear with it. It was the playoffs and you try to do whatever you can. But the pain was so overwhelming I was afraid to go to sleep. I was screwed up for a while afterwards trying to work out and get ready for the next season."

And this year?

"I feel a lot better. I wish I felt perfect, but that's asking for a little too much. I didn't think I'd play in the Jets game but I was able to do so and played pretty well and I feel pretty good this week."

The Packers' injury list grew when WR Donald Drive was added because of a quadriceps injury from the previous day's practice. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Driver will be fine, but that starting linebacker Erik Walden's status is "up in the air" after missing parts of another practice Thursday with a sprained ankle.

Also limited for the Packers on Thursday were center Jason Spitz (calf) and left tackle Chad Clifton (knees).

BEARD MISMATCH

What's become obvious this week is that Brett Keisel's beard will be a one-sided mismatch when it lines up opposite LG Daryn Colledge's beard Sunday.

Keisel was asked if the coaches are aware of the huge advantage.

"Yeah, but they know he didn't get the start I got on mine," Keisel said. "I think my beard overcomes anyone's beard. It's been proven. It's been selected as the top beard in the league and that's something I'm proud of."

Colledge's beard appears as if it's been trimmed a time or two this season.

"We don't trim," Keisel said. "We do not like scissors. We're afraid of scissors. We're afraid of razors. We're afraid of clippers. Those are all of our enemies."

POTSIE THE INSPIRER

Among the topics being rammed down the Steelers' throats at the two recent media conferences have been: A.) their feelings on not being "America's Team", B.) concussions; and C.) James Farrior's pre-game speeches.

"Nobody wanted to do it," Farrior explained of becoming the heir to Joey Porter in the locker room.

Almost every player polled – according to the quote sheets – said that Farrior is an inspiring speaker, with an exception being Troy Polamalu, who obviously cannot tell a lie.

"They're all the same," Polamalu said of Farrior's speeches. "It's not a Joey Porter pre-game speech, let's put it that way. When Joey left we were like, ‘Oh great. This is the best you've got?'"

FINAL WORD

A reporter continued a line of questioning about concussions with Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who told the reporter that it's the risk he takes because he loves his job.

"Don't you love your job?" Harrison asked the reporter.

"Yeah, but I don't get concussions in my job," the reporter said.

"You will if you ask another question like that," Harrison said.


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