Ole Miss?


Ole Miss?



Vincent plays it loose

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Keydrick Vincent has waited three years to move into the starting lineup, and what does he want to talk about? <br><br> "Ole Miss is going to win the national championship," said the Lurch-like starting left guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers. <br><br> Ole Miss? <br><br> Lurch-like? <br><br> <b> STARTING LEFT GUARD?!</b>

Nobody has to remind Steelers fans who belongs in that sacred territory, but two-time Pro Bowler Alan Faneca, in an emergency move similar to the 1995 move of safety Carnell Lake to cornerback, has been shifted to left tackle because of an injury to Marvel Smith, among others. Into Faneca's spot at left guard slides Vincent, who'd started only one game in his first two years in the league, and that was the meaningless 2001 season finale against Cleveland.

Vincent received his second start two Sundays back against the Denver Broncos, and he didn't know that would be the case until late in the work week. Vincent just went with the flow, and it turned into a torrent. The Steelers shuttled linemen in and out and ended up using 10 different line combinations. Vincent and Faneca even switched positions to suit particular plays prior to the Steelers' final touchdown and subsequent game-tying extra point.

The moves should've tipped the Broncos off to the Steelers using their signature running plays, which feature Faneca pulling and leading Jerome Bettis through the hole.

It's all on tape for the St. Louis Rams to see, thereby making it unlikely the two players will swap spots for those plays on Sunday. So the question put to Faneca was this: Will the Steelers be weakened without their Pro Bowl guard leading their favorite plays?

"You know, my replacement is a big man over there," Faneca said as he pointed to Vincent a couple of locker stalls down.

"He's got some playing time and I think he's just going to get better with the more playing time he gets. He's going to get around there on that corner and put his 330 into somebody and do a good job."

Yes, Vincent is the mashing sort. At his listed size of 6 feet 5, 320 pounds, Vincent has been a pulling guard ever since he enrolled at Ole Miss. And if Vincent doesn't rekindle those old college days, he and the Steelers may end up in position to draft an Eli Manning with a premium pick.

"Who us?" Vincent asked. "Aw, come on. That's a low blow."

Vincent is too tall to allow such comments to sail over his head. In fact, basketball was his first love. He only started playing football because that's what his friends played in Bartow, Fla. "It was just something I did," Vincent said. "And I did what I wanted to do. No pressure from my family. That's how it's been in high school and college. I do what I want to do."

Vincent is a gregarious giant, quick to flash a full smile. His point, though, is that his family wasn't the first to know about his start in Denver. And even though Vincent's been fully prepped on his assignment this week, he still hasn't called home.

"My family's not really into this football thing," he said. "They enjoy it but it ain't no big deal. They've always been that way. That's why I love them so much. They never put pressure on me to play football. They just say 'keep battling.'"

Vincent thought about it for a moment before adding, "You know, I didn't even call my mama yet. I usually talk to her on Saturday nights. I just tell her I might play. I don't tell them I'm starting. I never did that. That's just how I am. I've always been like that."

Even if Ole Miss was playing for the national title?

"Oh, I'd tell somebody then," Vincent said. "No doubt about it."

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