Camp Whispers

The beauty of Camp Whispers is that no formal lead is required. You begin rumor mongering now... Funny thing about Dante Brown in this enlightened Internet age is how an undrafted rookie can become old news before his first carry. But then you listen to a post-game analyst say "Nobody in the media knew who Cowher was talking about" and you sarcastically say to yourself, ‘Now there goes another satisfied ESPN Radio listener... The sleeper on defense we mentioned also played well. His name is ...

... Russell Stuvaints. The strong safety from McKeesport made a couple of hard hits in the game and further ingratiated himself with the coaching staff. The 6-foot, 208-pounder played linebacker in a 4-4 at Youngstown State, and he hits like one. Stuvaints now has to show he can drop, backpedal and cover like a safety. That would put him on the practice squad over Erik Totten. ... Yes, it appears as if the Steelers can only keep four safeties. ... Brent Alexander will be the starter at free safety until two things happen: 1.) Mike Logan shows the coaching staff he has a firm grasp of the defense and 2.) Troy Polamalu shows the coaching staff he has a firm grasp of the defense. ... There isn't anyone here who a.) matters and b.) doesn't think Polamalu will become a very good football player. We'd still like to see him cover some deep stuff, though. Polamalu played in the box most of the Detroit game. ... Kendrell Bell has a long, long way to go before becoming an effective defensive end, but no one's ready to give up the project. ... Rookie cornerback Ike Taylor is drawing rave reviews for his closing speed and some of the other raw essentials he displayed in Detroit, and it's not just coming from the team. Those at the game were able to see more than TV viewers did and they say Taylor just needs to play and his sometimes awkward ball skills will catch up to his athletic skills. ... Last year it became obvious early on that the key to beating the Steelers was to spread them out and pass. Saturday, it became obvious that the key is to blitz them. Certainly, that's what the Baltimore Ravens are working on at this very moment. ... Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs will be coming soon to an open gap near you. ... Word on the Ravens' quarterback situation is that Chris Redman will be the starter and is, as we say in the new millennium, "managing the game effectively." Rookie Kyle Boller is in another world as far as talent goes, but isn't ready to start yet. Third-teamer Anthony Wright, the former backup with the Steelers, played poorly in the Ravens' opener. ... The Steelers' most effective set Saturday was its two tight-end set. Not so much because the personnel played so well but because it "talked" the Lions out of blitzing. ... After being labeled "a wasted draft pick" by more than one source within the organization, seventh-rounder J.T. Wall had perhaps his best day with the Steelers on Saturday. His big block sprang Brown, and it put the fullback in position to make the practice squad. ... Oliver Ross was just plain bad against the Lions and Cowher didn't waste any time getting Todd Fordham reps with the first team and Mathias Nkwenti reps with the second team at right tackle on Monday. Line coach Russ Grimm dismissed it as plans which had been prearranged, but no one's buying it. ... Not that Fordham inspires much confidence in this corner. The guy this corner wants to see play RT with the first team is (shudder) Nkwenti, just to (shudder) get a (shudder) feel one way or the other.

Jim Wexell

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