Bracing for Popeye; Fresh Out of Hines

Mike Prisuta talked to those who would be Hines Ward this Sunday:

Time for "Young Money" to put its money where its mouth is, so to speak.

If the Steelers are to beat the Jets on Sunday, their receivers are going to have to win as a unit against the New York DBs.

The game within the game this time around pits Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery against an excellent Jets secondary headlined by cornerback Darrelle Revis and personified by safety LaRon Landry.

Let's start with Revis, proclaimed by Mike Tomlin this week to be "the best in the world at what he does.'

No argument here.

There's likewise no uncertainty in the Steelers' locker room regarding whether the concussion Revis sustained against Buffalo will cancel his Heinz Field homecoming.

"He's the ultimate competitor," Cotchery said of Revis, a former teammate from Cotchery's days with the J-E-T-S JETS!JETS!JETS!. "Revis will be out there on Sunday."

Would you expect anything less from an Aliquippa Quip?

Revis won't pitch a shutout, but nor will he surrender anything of consequence.

The guy he lines up and plays press coverage against (not all of the time but a lot of the time) isn't going to put up any numbers, although Wallace insisted he wouldn't mind trying to amid such circumstances.

"You always look forward to somebody coming down in your face, man vs. man, it's you against him," Wallace said. "Anytime you can get that it's always a good opportunity to go out and show what you can do and show your skill set.

"It doesn't matter to me. I like to see anybody who'll line up in my face, I don't care. Whoever it is, it is. I feel like we have good guys all over the field so it doesn't matter if he's on me, ‘A.B.' (Brown), ‘E' (Sanders), whoever, ‘J-Co' (Cotchery), it doesn't matter.

"We have a lot of different players who can give him a tough challenge. He's a great player. He's gonna be ready to play. We just have to come with our A-game."

Let's assume for the moment Wallace is correct in his assumption that plays can and will be made against Revis and fellow corner Antonio Cromartie.

That still leaves Landry to be dealt with and that's going to be a handful, especially in the running game.

"The presence that Landry has at safety has been something," Cotchery said. "He's brought a different demeanor to their defense.

"The guy looks like Popeye but he has the built-in spinach so he doesn't have to go and re-up. Man, he brings it. He plays like he looks. He looks very physical and he plays that way."

Landry's line in the Jets' opener against the Bills included a knock-out/limp-off hit on running back Fred Jackson, a forced fumble downfield following a reception, and a personal foul (late hit out of bounds).

There was a day when the Steelers would deal with such a force by turning to Hines Ward. That's no longer an option, but Max Starks doesn't necessarily perceive that as a deal-breaker.

"It is a tough job and Hines was so good at it," Starks conceded.

That said, "I have faith in the wide receivers we have to block their defensive backs," Starks continued. "I think we're going to mix it up so it's not as noticeable. You knew when Hines was blocking a guy, coming in for the running game, which kind of made us predictable at times.

"Knowing we have all of our wide receivers and tight ends that can block him, it definitely gives us a different look and keeps them guessing."

The guess here is Revis will end up covering Brown and Ike Taylor will do likewise to former Steelers Super Bowl MVP Santonio Homes.

That could all end up a squash and if it does others in the vicinity will probably make the plays that decide the game, especially those the Steelers assign to block Popeye.

"All of us are more than capable of doing it," Sanders insisted. "All of us are not afraid to stick our head in the fan.

"You just gotta have heart. Sometimes, you go in there and take his knees out from under him. Face first, not trying to dodge him or anything, you just go in there and get in that contact.

"We don't have any really big guys, but you don't have to make a kill shot. You just have to block him. I'm not trying to lay him out. I'm just trying to do my job."

If that job gets done, so will the Steelers'.


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