Though this was just another preseason game, the newly acclaimed "Dream Team" led by the Michael Vick Experience, piqued my interest during warm-ups. When I was with the Steelers, if there was a chance to bomb its forerunner, "America's Team," we took as much pride in the game as if it was the regular season.
* I moseyed over to watch the most coveted free-agent of the off-season, Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, go through drills. As he did his drops, all I could think was, "That's one expensive back pedal."
* There's always a new face on the sidelines that is a welcoming old face. My former teammate and ESPN's Merrill Hoge came home for a visit to lead the "Terrible Towel Wave" prior to kickoff. Merrill looks great, sounds great, and as always it's wonderful just to spend some time with him.
* Ditto for the "Blond Bomber" Terry Bradshaw, whom I managed to sneak up behind and slap a bear hug on while his studio people watched with angst. Terry is always Terry, and looking him in the eye cascaded memories all through me, and they were all good.
* I noticed the kicking-Canuck, Shaun Suisham, dressed in t-shirt and shorts. He told me he'd had his appendix taken out. As a probing member of the media, I queried him further as to the symptoms he suffered, and he dryly noted that he "was in constant pain." OK, Peter King I'm not.
* Yawn, the opening kickoff was a touchback. Or as the "Voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers" Bill Hillgrove noted, a "Tunch-back." The Turk up in the booth has been vociferously expounding the evils of moving the ball from the 30-yard line to the 35. He's got a point.
* One thing for sure: If there was any doubt that Sean Kugler has made a difference in the technique of the offensive line, it was laid to rest on the opening drive by the Steelers. On a double-team run block, Tony Hills and Willie Colon got butt to butt, rolled their hips in unison, and created a power surge that uprooted an Eagles defensive lineman, who got tossed and disappeared somewhere in the middle of the line. All the moment needed was an old guy to drive out on the field in a four-wheeler, shake his fist and yell, "Hey you woodchucks! Stop chucking my wood!"
* In a week that saw Hines Ward make two great catches during practice at Saint Vincent College, drawing praise from Mike Tomlin ("Hines Ward, you still got it!"), Ward did it again when Ben Roethlisberger hit him in the back of the end zone for a TD. The rolling hipped Samba dance Hines performed in celebration was a far cry from the "Riverdance" fiasco of a couple years ago when he celebrated with a free-style version and ended up looking like George Jetson stuck on a treadmill with no idea how to get off.
* Byron Leftwich has a great arm, we all know that. But even knowing it I was still surprised when Byron hit Jerricho Cotchery with a 20-yard cannon-shot TD pass which included a very audible WHAP! as the ball hit him in the chest. I mean I heard it right through the headset and the crowd noise some 30 yards away.
* Halftime brought Maurkice Pouncey and wingman Colon out to accept the Joe Greene Rookie of the Year Award. A slam dunk winner after his meteoric season was Maurkice, but I found it interesting Willie was out there. I asked Willie about it and he said that Maurkice asked him to be out there, that he was just lending support at the moment. That, my friends, is what I'm talking about when I say there's "chemistry" in the locker room. Fabulous stuff that might seem trivial to others, but to players it means everything.
* Still going strong in the third quarter, Hills moved back to LT and did a commendable job. But his playing style, quick hands and strength, along with good lateral quickness, seem to be better-utilized at guard. It's close-quarter-combat phone booth fighting versus the giant ring-sized parking lot at tackle. Just a matter of preference.
* At the end of the third quarter, as the teams switched ends of the field, none other than Ward was seen watering down the officials. Hines was on the field handing out Gatorade and when he noticed that I noticed what he was doing, he sheepishly anteed up with a broad grin and said, "Yeah, I'm politicking tonight!"
* Jonathan Dwyer is back on track and looking good. Dwyer has good vision. I'm not talking eye chart stuff, but the ability to "see" the hole before it opens wide like a North Shore surfer dude in Hawaii sees the pipeline before it begins to curl. It's a feeling, coupled with knowledge of blocking schemes and loads of reps, something you're born with.
* While I visited in the locker room, Jonathan Scott and Marcus Gilbert were in the corner and didn't seem discouraged by missing out on the fun of the dream team beat-down. As a matter of record, J-Scott says he'll be back next week.
* I know Hills will be glad, because he might have found a home at right guard.