Weekend Leftovers

SCI publisher Jim Wexell found some notes down on the South Side that Steelers fans might enjoy.

We have a few minutes until Mike Tomlin's weekly press conference so I want to touch on some very important topics. The first having to do with James Daniel, the tight ends coach who was wrongly and vindictively accused of "assault" and "attacks" or whatever people with an agenda want to call a minor altercation.

Turns out this wasn't even that.

I thought the charge by the New England Patriots was bogus right from the start. Not because he's a friend, or even much of an interview. Daniel will say hello if we pass in the hall, but really all I or any of the other sportswriters really know about him is that he yells "We've got kings in the huddle" when, I believe, the Steelers bring in their three-WR package.

We like to joke about that -- behind his back, of course, because he'll kick our butts.

Just kidding, because that's what's ludicrous about the Patriots' allegation: He's a 62-year-old coach with limited mobility who has a few minutes to take an elevator from the pressbox, walk through the fans without security, and talk to his guys in the locker room.

I was telling someone this in the media room, that there was no way this guy would've had the time to "assault" or "attack" a fan even if he could. But I was interrupted by a booming "NO" from across the room.

The reporter walked over and said he heard what really happened. Apparently, this reporter told me, a fan actually had the audacity to tell Daniel that there weren't kings in the huddle.

Yeah, it's a joke that about three people get.

So for the rest of you, I talked to Matt Spaeth. I asked the Steelers tight end about his reaction when he heard the allegation against Daniel.

"I was shocked a little bit because I just can't see him doing something like that," said Spaeth. "There was probably disbelief as my second thought. And then third, that while I was thinking it probably didn't happen but if it did I wish I was there. I would've had his back."

The Steelers cleared Daniel of these false allegations. The Patriots haven't commented as they prepare for their next set of lies.


Brandon Boykin confirmed yesterday that he was working with the first team as the No. 3 CB at Monday's practice.

Another more subtle change was confirmed by Steve McLendon, the starting nose tackle who also worked as a defensive end with the second team. It's a great move, in my opinion, since the Steelers have depth issues at defensive end.

"I've been working it since I got here," said McLendon. "I do it every year, get a few reps just to have those reps in case something happens in the game and we have another nose tackle. He can play nose and I can go to the end."

That's what it looked like Monday. But is McLendon saying this was just precautionary work in case of emergency?

"No, I might get some reps this week," he said. "It depends on how Cam (Heyward) feels during the game, or (Stephon) Tuitt, if they get tired. We've got other ends but we only dress five, so I'm the sixth man."

Also, Ryan Shazier confirmed that he missed Monday's practice but wouldn't say why.

"All I can say is that I'm good. Nothing to worry about," said Shazier.

The guy in the next locker, the gregarious Arthur Moats, couldn't help but chime in.

"Man, he's Ryan Shazier. He aint worried about practice," Moats said. "He don't need practice; practice needs Ryan Shazier."

After he and Shazier stopped laughing, Moats went into his Allen Iverson imitation.

"It's PRACTICE, not the game. We talkin' 'bout practice. PRACTICE!"


Left guard Ramon Foster was helping me out with a story I'm doing on DeAngelo Williams, when I changed the topic. I asked Foster about the first drive Thursday, when the Steelers were gouging the Patriots before a gadget pass by Antonio Brown was called and ultimately crushed the drive.

I asked Foster if there was a collective "WTF?" when the playcall came into the huddle.

"You just pray it works," he said with a chuckle. "You just pray. That's all you do. We blocked that up how we're supposed to. They took a bead on that real quick. I guess the logic is we've been doing one thing one way and to just surprise them. But you know our position."

A lineman's position is to always keep doing what's working, particularly when it involves running the ball. So was there a collective groan in the huddle?

Foster just smiled and said, "You know we worked on that during the week, so it was like 'Hopefully it will work.'"

But the play didn't work, and the Steelers never recovered.

"It worked during the week," Foster said. "But that's practice."


In talking with one of the guys who appeared on radio from Gillette Stadium prior to Thursday's game, he said that the Pittsburgh sound engineer got sideline reporter Craig Wolfley all squared away and when someone said, "OK, turn it off until game time," the engineer responded, "No! Don't do that! If you turn it off they'll steal the frequency."

The engineer added, "Don't worry because I've got plenty of battery. Just leave it open until game time."

And, voila, the radio broadcast and Wolfley's headset went off without a hitch.

Thing is, there's nothing in the rule book about taking care of the frequency for visiting teams. While the Steelers prepare for all facets of an NFL game like it's, well, an NFL game, the Patriots obviously are haphazard and don't really care, since, you know, it's not spelled out clearly in the rulebook. And if it's not a rule, then they exploit it to the fullest extent.

If the Patriots happen to have incompetent people working those small unimportant stadium jobs, too bad. It's not the Patriots' problem. It's yours.

But, actually, it's all of ours.


How did we not see this coming? Dick LeBeau, who's overseeing Ken Whisenhunt's defense for Tennessee, was going up against a rookie quarterback this past Sunday.

I'm not looking up LeBeau's record vs. rookie QBs because we've been keeping tabs on it for years and Steelers fans get the point. But once again, LeBeau crushed a rookie, this time No. 1 pick Jameis Winston.

Aside from Whisenhunt and LeBeau, other former Steelers coaches on the Titans staff are Mike Mularkey, Ray Horton and Lou Spanos. Former Steelers DE and all-around good man and smart guy Nick Eason is also on the staff. Gives Steelers fans another team for which to root.

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