- July 31st and the "infamous" Coach Cowher gassers (a word which takes on a whole new meaning when taking in the considerable girth of Casey Hampton and Jerome Bettis). This might be the toughest day of Club Med - Latrobe. The Steelers lose starting LB Kendrell Bell for the season as he damages both ankles attempting to carry Hampton to the finish of the sprints. Bill Cowher commends Bell's team-first attitude and tries to encourage the crippled linebacker to keep going by yelling, "Let's go!"
- August 1st opens up practice to the fans. A few of them manage to stop gawking at LB Joey Porter's magnificent physique long enough to notice that the local media actually doesn't watch practice, but spends most of its time gossiping and planning where to go out later that night. Subscriptions to the local papers plummet, which is akin to saying that current interest rates are taking a big tumble.
- August 2nd and another large fan turnout at Saint Vincent College. Unfortunately, Cowher called for a movie day and a riot ensues. The irate fans tear up the lower field, putting an end to the open afternoon practices, not that anyone who has really been watching over the last few years would notice.
- August 4th is the first off-site practice, at Latrobe High School. About 7 fans can actually find the location and most miss another wonderful August performance by WR Lee Mays. Gerry Dulac takes note and reveals through The Sporting News that the Pittsburgh Steelers have the deepest receiving corps in the NFL. Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward still haven't reported to camp.
- On August 8th, Cowher decides to hold a practice on an off day in order to shake the media. Apparently, a few reporters are getting too close to the plan to cut all the rookies in favor of retired players.
- August 11th at Offut Field in Greensburg, FS Chris Hope hits RB Dante Brown so hard he lands on the practice squad. Cowher demotes Hope, replacing him with DB coach Darren Perry. Fans begin chanting for Greg Lloyd.
- August 14th is the date of the first preseason game, against the Steelers' minor league team, the Detroit Lions. OLB Alonzo Jackson impresses with 3 sacks, forcing Cowher to bring in Lloyd. The Lions look horrible, prematurely cutting 4 players in hopes of shaking things up. GM Kevin Colbert immediately signs the waiver wire fodder.
- August 19th at 3pm, we told you afternoon practices were cancelled. Instead, CB Chad Scott reprises his role as Wolverine in X-man III. Afterwards, Scott hangs out with the kids, racing radio controlled monster trucks. The cocky corner is surprised by a 4-year old from Latrobe. Scott pouts and begins a three-week holdout.
- August 21st, Steelers vs. Texans: Ward and Burress return to the team. Ward issues crushing block after crushing block to Burress during the first quarter. Burress complains to the zebras that Chris McAlister is picking on him. Spike does not realize that he is really talking to Dick LeBeau. An errant pass hits Burress in the head, sticking in his facemask. Amazingly, Plax returns to the field, football still stuck in his view, and makes six straight receptions. Headlines the next day read, "Burress Makes Big Return to Steelers."
- August 26th, Pittsburgh at Philadelphia: Cowher plays the first team the entire game and explains to the press after the game, "The Rooneys pay me to win now, not when Ben Roethlisberger can actually start." Cowher is rewarded with a 5-year contract extension.
- August 31st is the date of the first big roster cut down. Since the Steelers didn't make any big upgrades to the roster during the off-season, the game is all about motivation. Where there's a lack of talent, there's Bill Cowher. Cowher tries to fire up his team by cutting Clark Haggans, who recently returned to practice after nursing a broken hand back to health. Tim Lewis convinces the NY Giants to sign Haggans.
- September 2nd is the last preseason game and the opposition is the Carolina Panthers. Vanilla blocking schemes or not, RT Max Starks stinks. Cowher and Grimm give him a big test against the Panthers, letting him run with the first team. The Undertaker moves slower than death getting out of his stance, putting Tommy Maddox's comeback in jeopardy. Starks stays in for Big Ben's turn, which helps the staff realize that the problems on offense are not all about the line. Roethlisberger proves to be remarkably nimble and Steeler fans thank their lucky stars that the cement-footed Philip Rivers did not end up in Pittsburgh. Colbert goes to sleep with a smile on his face.
- September 5th is the final cut down and the Steelers set their final 53. The gig is up and the odd moves finally add up. While no one states it publicly, Pittsburgh is rebuilding. The talk about cutting all the rookies was smoke, which strangely took 4 weeks to clear up. Cowher with his new contract goes youth and the fans hope for better days, long after 2004 is forgotten.
Pittsburgh Steelers dates worth writing down
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