Thank God it's over

<b>PITTSBURGH –</b> Bill Cowher and the players aren't the only ones happy this preseason is over. <br><br> You can bet everyone in the media is ready to get this party started as well. <br><br> The only thing worse than preseason football games are … well, there aren't many things worse than that.

And the Steelers played Thursday night like a team that was going through the motions, trying not to get hurt. The only thing that was injured against the Panthers were a few egos.
  • First and foremost on that list was Ike Taylor's ego. Hey Ike, when a cornerback leads the team with nine tackles, it's not a good thing.

    Ike was picked on early and often by the Panthers and showed that he's not ready for prime time.

  • Another media member opined that the Steelers could cut Chad Scott and start Willie Williams until Taylor or Ricardo Colclough were ready to start in a few weeks.

    I didn't get a chance to ask him, but I'm pretty sure he changed his mind after seeing Williams burned for a long touchdown by Keary Colbert and Taylor picked on like the red-haired kid at summer camp.

  • Williams showed some veteran savvy, however, by immediately looking at safety Russell Stuvaints after the Colbert TD as if to lay the blame off on him.

    To be fair, however, Stuvaints probably should have been there for help. But Williams was toasted.

    Stuvaints, who later got a gift interception, also didn't take a big hit on a receiver later in the game, instead going for the interception. He missed and the Panthers had another long gainer.

    Gotta lower the hammer sometimes, kid.

  • Dante Brown opened some eyes not with his running, which continues to be solid, but with a block he made on punt return.

    Brown flat out decked Carolina fullback Brad Hoover on the play. I asked him about it afterwards and he got a sly grin on his face. Brown knows the way for him to make the roster again is as a special teams player and spot back.

    He showed Thursday night he's capable of doing it.

  • Willie Parker's fumble on the Steelers' last drive is disconcerting. That was his knock in college, but he hadn't laid it on the turf … until Thursday.

    That's a bad time to do it.

  • Chris Hoke is going to set some kind of non-quarterback record for making an NFL roster without actually seeing any playing time.

    Then again, the way he's played during this preseason, that not playing thing is going to change.

    If Kendrick Clancy is smart – there's a funny one – he'll milk his injury a little longer to keep a roster spot. That's the only way he's keeping one.

  • Ricardo Colclough fumbled two punts. This isn't Tusculum anymore.

  • Paging Joey Porter. Come in Joey Porter. You out there?

    When is Porter's play going to back up his mouth?

  • Interesting that Cowher would sit Duce Staley and not Jerome Bettis Thursday.

    Could it be he was seeing if Bettis is still capable of carrying the ball against a first-team defense?

    Yep.

    The answer? Five carries for 17 yards. Not really.

  • Unless Deion Sanders can somehow play quarterback for the Ravens, he's not really going to help them.

    Even with their problems, the Steelers are a better overall team than the Ravens.

    Baltimore's only got a couple of warts, but they are two big ones – no receivers and no quarterback. The Steelers have been there, back in 1998 and 1999.

    The only difference is that the Ravens have a great defense. The Steelers' defense of that period wasn't good enough to overcome the poor QB play.

    Even so, the Steelers win the division at 10-6. Baltimore will go 9-7. Cincinnati 7-9. And Cleveland? Well, while the Ravens were signing Deion Sanders this week, the Browns were signing Lewis Sanders. That tell you enough? The Browns are a 6-10 club.

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