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Buzz from the Steelers locker room

Vibrant locker room follows end of losing streak and good-natured banter abounds.

The vibe of a winning locker room was immediately apparent, and sitting in the corner having a chat were a couple of Steelers rookies who had a thing or two to do with it.

One, Sean Davis, thought he had scored a touchdown. The other, Javon Hargrave, had to pinch himself to make sure he hadn't been dreaming that he scored a touchdown.

"There really wasn't no reaction, just surprise," said Hargrave, the rookie nose tackle who fell on a loose ball in the end zone to clinch the 24-9 win in Cleveland.

Did Hargrave get the ball?

"Nah, I just left it behind. I don't think anyone got it."

That's OK, you'll get one after your next touchdown. Hargrave let loose with a laugh.

"Hopefully," he said.

Hargrave said that "all my coaches sent me a text message, celebrating with me," but that touchdown wasn't the biggest story out of South Carolina State. Joe Thomas Sr. carried the ball Saturday and, at 55 years of age, is believed to be the oldest player to appear in a college football game.

"I played with his son, so I didn't know the father well," Hargrave said. "He was around but he didn't play. I don't think. He didn't really do much like that. I don't think he was eligible."

According to the school, Thomas Sr. practiced on and off with the scout team the last four years.

But of course in Pittsburgh, Hargrave was the big story from Donnie Shell's old school.

"Yeah, I feel like that was my best game," Hargrave said. "Anytime you score a touchdown, and it overshadows your first sack, of course it's your best game."

* The series following the Hargrave touchdown, it appeared that Davis had become the second Steelers rookie to score. Davis picked up a fumble, danced along the sideline and ran 37 yards for an apparent touchdown. But Big Dan McCullers had clubbed Browns QB Josh McCown on the head and was called for roughing the passer to nullify the score.

"I didn't celebrate because I kind of thought something happened," Davis said. "It sucks, but as long as I do what I'm supposed to do it'll come again, so I'm not tripping."

Davis was, on the other hand, "tripping" a bit about the two blitzes from his strong safety position.

On the first, a third-and-10 pass, Davis came through the line with a clean shot at McCown, but McCown stepped up at the last moment. Davis whiffed and watched a 20-yard completion  to Duke Johnson.

"I've got to slow down," Davis said with a shake of his head. "The hole was so big I got excited. I was flying in there. I'm going to learn from it. I'm going to slow it down and work on it this week in practice so when they call my number again I can make it happen."

Well, they did call his number again, three plays later, on another third-and-10, and Davis did slow down -- enough to allow the running back, Isaiah Crowell, to slide over and block Davis just in time to allow a touchdown pass to Gary Barnidge.

"I DID slow down. I DID learn from it," Davis said with a smile. "My blitzing game, I've got to work on that. I really haven't had a lot of practice blitzing. It's kind of just a game-time thing."

Ramon Foster showed up Monday once again in his reading glasses and looking all professorial. But not much happened as a circus-type mob encircled his locker, except that the byplay from his neighbors was kind of interesting.

Alejandro Villanueva: "The FACE of the media."

Foster: "I'll say that whenever you have to come to me for an interview."

Me: "Al's not bad."

Foster: "Al's not bad. He just don't like the attention that he says he likes."

Me: "Al's polite and insightful."

Foster: "No, Al's an a-----e is what he is."

The group of reporters laughed as Foster paused to text his brother about tickets.

Foster: "All right, what's up guys?"

Maurkice Pouncey: "Dang, Ramon, you put 'em on pause for a text?"

Foster: "I had to text my BROTHER, man, we're going to INDY."

He paused to look again at the mob.

"Anybody?" he said as everyone stared back at him. "No questions? (pause) Good."

Me: "Just dispense wisdom for us."

Villanueva: "We played as a team. We won as a team."

Foster: "We played as a team. We won as a team."

Another reporter: "What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?"

Me: (exit stage right).

* When anyone starts with the Thanksgiving or Christmas questions, it's time to go. I saw an opening over at Pouncey's locker and asked him for a reaction to Mike Tomlin rolling the dice for a touchdown instead of kicking the field goal to end the half.

"It was awesome, man. I loved it," said Pouncey.


"Get some points," he said. "Hell, we needed to score points."

What's wrong with nine points?

"Because that never wins. You get a whole bunch of field goals there-- We done been in those situations before. We could've got a lot of points the week before and we could've won the game easily."

Pouncey was asked why the Steelers were so patient with the running game (as if they weren't against the Ravens two weeks earlier).

"Whatever play's called, I run it," Pouncey said. "If you want to ask someone about the running game, ask Haley. He'll be here Thursday -- or tomorrow -- or right now. Hell, what day is today?"

Coordinators normally meet with reporters on Thursday, but of course the Steelers play Thursday. The short week confuses everyone.

But what about the line? Someone said it wasn't satisfied with Le'Veon Bell's stats the previous few weeks.

"We never are," Pouncey said. "If our running back doesn't have a hundred yards every game, then every offensive lineman should look at theirself and say 'that sucks' because that's what an offensive line is built off, the running game."

Someone asked Pouncey if he would be comfortable throwing the ball every down in the Lucas Oil Stadium dome.

"I'm a football player," he said. "I don't care if they call a pass on every down. I'm going to go out there and do it."

Hey, Pounce, have you always been so coachable?

"Always," he said. "That's the only way to become great, if you can be coached."

Sammie Coates was honored with a three-foot-long stick for being the best Steelers special-teamer of a win, in honor of his three tackles.

It's an actual wooden stick the unit's coach, Danny Smith, found on the side of the road. He smoothed it up, painted it black and gold and put a hammer head at the top. I assume in Smith's former days he called it a Hammer Hitting Stick, or something along those lines, but he said in the new correct NFL he wanted to tone down the hitting aspect of the award.

Coates said he had never heard of Steve Tasker, the former gunner deluxe for the 1990s Buffalo Bills, and Smith said that's because Tasker is a "Beta player," or a player whose film is only on Beta discs.

Smith said he has all of Tasker's tackles broken down on Beta, which he apparently can't use on today's technology.

Anyway, Coates' name has been added to the 2016 stick that includes Shamarko Thomas, Jordan BerryDarrius Heyward-Bey and Antonio Brown.

Coates said that making the three tackles didn't hurt his two broken fingers.

"It ain't the same as catching the ball," he said.

The Steelers certainly miss Coates, just as they miss the other injured receivers who've lined up opposite Brown this season.

"It's healing," was all Coates wanted to say about his recovery.

Will the hand heal before the end of the season?

"I'm hoping so," he said.

* On to the other injury issue, the other player trying his best to be patient with the weekly questions, tight end Ladarius Green was asked if his jump in the end zone -- the first actually jump of Green's spotted by this reporter -- was a good sign.

"Yeah," Green said with a lack of enthusiasm. "I would've taken it as a good sign if the defender wasn't there and I would've caught it."

Green did admit that his physical skills are returning, and for the first time Sunday he jumped without realizing he was doing it.

"It just happened," he said. "When it's second nature, yeah, it's a good sign, so yeah everything's coming back. It's getting better and I've got two games under my belt now."

Bud Dupree believes he's 100 percent, but the reason he didn't play more than one snap Sunday, particularly with the game out of reach, is the team didn't want to take a chance on him going in cold.

So, in the eight-sack performance, everyone ate except ...

"Yeah, except me," Dupree said with a laugh. "It's all good. It was great for everybody to step up. Me just being around helped me out a lot. I had my suit on. Just dressing out, it was just the progression that made me happy. Gotta start somewhere."

Stephon Tuitt ate well Sunday. Had 2.5 sacks, four QB hits and one downfield annihilation.

What was the big man's favorite play?

"My favorite play of the game was just watching guys make tackles," he said. "I don't give a crap about anything that I did. I know watching Hargrave make a touchdown; watching Shay get the strip-sack for (Hargrave) to get the touchdown; and watching our offense make plays and holding the ball, that was lovely. To be honest, that was great. I actually liked that more than anything, because when our offense had the ball for the long time they did that felt really good."

The Steelers possessed the ball for 20:37 of the 30 minutes in the first half.

Didn't that get a little boring?

"I'll never get bored of the offense running like that," Tuitt said. "I'll always be their biggest cheerleader."


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