Wednesday Apple Pie

Before I get into the meat of my thoughts this week, I decided it would be a good idea to get everyone into the right state of mind with the obscenely ridiculous over-analyzed exhibition games rapidly approaching.

By now most folks that have visited this site since its inception should know my personal feelings on exhibition games. They are a joke, a sham and not to be scrutinized in the slightest way. But because of our infallible obsession with the pigskin, we can't live without overanalyzing each snap of the first-teamers, second-teamers and camp fodder.

Rather, a good test of the fate of team rests within its first 4 weeks.

YearFirst 4 GamesWhat we learnedFinal Record
20032-2 The team would start strong but could not keep the momentum going against more talented teams by playing mistake-free football.6-10
20021-3 A super-talented team made too many mental mistakes, and that would inevitably be the reason they lost to Tennessee in the playoffs.10 - 5 – 1
20013-1 An overachieving, hungry squad still looked great after a typical opening day loss, but that loss proved that the Steelers' biggest enemy was themselves.13 – 3
20001-3 The Steelers, after being overwhelmed in week 1 by the Ravens, find more ways than imaginable to lose games to Cleveland and Tennessee. The team is very competitive, but can't put their opponents away, in a way foreshadowing a future loss to Philadelphia which determines their making the playoffs or staying home.9 - 6

So instead of watching the exhibition games for warning signs, watch the games with a beer in one hand a remote in the other.

"The Michael Vick Award"

The players are settled into their rooms, the mess hall is open, the run test is over and rain has already started. Training camp is upon us once again and it's time to predict who will make it out of the two-a-days unscathed and who will miss substantial time due to injury.

It's a dangerous business predicting injuries. I remember two years ago I got scathingly attacked for my immoral posts wondering aloud whether Hines Ward would get the major injury of the training camp period, or what I like to call the "Michael Vick".

Ward would end up having emergency surgery that summer.

So, posting another thread this year, I decided to incorporate the post into WAP.

Now the first thing you may be saying is that Clark Haggans could in fact be the "Michael Vick" this season. If that's the case, I would say that two facts dispute that claim. First off, Haggans isn't as important to this team as Ward or Kendrell Bell or Joey Porter. Secondly, Haggans broke his hand before camp began. That doesn't count. Sorry.

The first guy I'd look at as a possible "Michael Vick" is Tommy Maddox. Regardless of how much you like this guy, his importance to the team this year is leaps and bounds larger than in previous years. He has no capable long-term backup (Batch does not count because he is neither capable nor long-term) and this is not a team that can survive without solid quarterback play.

Or should I turn my attention toward a certain 300+ pound behemoth who plugs up the middle of the run defense? Casey Hampton's knees will go at some point in his career. He will retire too early. Will this be the year his knees give out? And if so, this team has no answer to replace his run-stuffing abilities.

Or perhaps, the answer lies with the newest addition to the offense, Duce Staley. Staley could be a savior to the Steelers' offensive diversity but an injury could make the offense all the more typical.

But, none of the above will truly be the "Michael Vick" of the Steelers this year. Or should I say "could possibly" be the "Michael Vick". Please knock on wood while you read this or at this point click "back" on your browser because you won't be happy with my choice.

This year I feel that Alan Faneca, the most valuable member of the Steelers offense and possibly the team, could be beset by a major injury. Why, you ask? Because he has yet to miss significant time and he plays nasty. He's one of the toughest guys around, but he's not getting any younger and maybe it's his turn.


  • Big Ben finally signs. Brian St. Pierre secretly starts packing his bags.
  • The 6-year deal is a great move, especially since Ben was the safest pick in the draft.
  • Alonzo Jackson is a bust? Really? Already? Wow, perhaps he should just cut himself now and save us the trouble.
  • At that rate, why doesn't Marvel Smith follow him out the door?
  • And Chad Scott.
  • If there is any guarantee this year, it is that Hines Ward will continue flashing in the middle ready to take a big hit.
  • Duce Staley will be the third leading receiver this year for the Steelers and will score more touchdowns than Plaxico Burress. Just a hunch.
  • James Farrior will make the Pro Bowl. Another hunch.
  • Chad Scott will be cut. This is more of a prayer.
  • Here's big news. Kendrell Bell missed his first practice. Doesn't it seem like his Rookie of the Year award was more of a dream sequence than reality?

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