Looking on from the sideline

Craig Wolfley is the sideline reporter for the Steelers Radio Network and every Tuesday his game notes of that up-close view will appear in this space. Here are some of the Wolfman's insights from the Vikings game.

* Gad-zooks I hate lightning! Not only does it push back the kickoff, but I feel like a lightning rod on two feet with all the electronic gadgets I'm hooked up to on the sidelines. Not to mention my family history (my dad got whacked by lightning when he was a teenager, and my sister had a jolt in her early thirties). All that aside, here's some of what I saw:

* Big Ben continues to amaze me. I had a little pre-game chat in the tunnel with the whiz kid while he was tossing a few warm-up zingers with Pittsburgh Steelers QB coach Mark Whipple. The thumb sure wasn't a problem, and this cat is as loose as a marionette puppet. He plays with the confidence of a "Christian holding four aces," to quote Mark Twain.

* No-huddle was no problem on that first series, and more importantly it gets the juices flowing early for the hogs. The defensive guys hate this stuff because it gets a lot of them gassing early and looking for their second wind. Defensive hogs don't want to tap their tanks too soon, or they'll be tapping their helmets looking for a blow. And with a no-huddle going on, you can't leave the field due to a quick snap.

As a player goes through pre-game warm-ups, he starts to build upon that ill will and anticipation of the upcoming mayhem. At the first snap, a player's heart rate is screaming like a '67 Volkswagen Beetle in first gear with the pedal to the metal.

The vets know how to throttle it and bottle it, but pre-season games mean pre-season shape for some guys (Pat Williams). Nothing kicks your confidence up a notch faster than watching your opponent suffering more than you.

* Ike Taylor is a good example of a guy with a little too much throttle early on. Two good plays to start the game, but on the second series he mulched Travis Taylor on a reverse while clearly over the border. Gotta pay attention to that little voice in the head that says "abort mission, pull off!"

* I have to apologize to Verron Haynes. The poor guy was grooving along, having himself a good game and I jinxed him. No sooner than the play after I went on the air gushing about his greatness when he gives up a sack. He dropped his head and went for the kill shot on a DB who okie-doked him. Put that one on me.

* Chris Kemoeatu el-kabonged a guy on the kickoff return to the likes I don't believe I've ever seen in all my years. I've seen guys get run over, tossed into the air, double bounced and left for dead. I've never seen a guy accelerate in the opposite direction after he crashed into a player. If body bouncing was an Olympic sport, big Chris would be wearing gold today.

* Arnold Harrison showed up on the kickoff team and continues to shine. Branden Joe showed Lee Vickers how to attack the wedge. Vickers learned from last week and didn't slow down this time. It didn't help.

* John Kuhn pulled off a Renaldo Nehemiah, hurdling over a Viking that had guys on the sideline high-fiving and laughing. I don't think Duce was one of them.

* Santonio Holmes took the proverbial Bugs Bunny "left turn at Albuquerque" when he misread coverage and Charlie was intercepted. The greeting committee waiting on the sidelines for Santonio when he made his way to the bench said guilty by the numbers waiting to bend his ear.

* Willie Colon has got to work on that left-handed stance. His feet are too parallel and he's a little too flat-footed to effectively run block. When you're flat-footed, the first tendency when you fire out on a search and destroy mission is to raise up. Then you lose leverage and the hips can't roll through. End result is a stalemate and sore pectoral muscles that you notice on your next set of bench presses.

* Orien Harris needs to hang out with and start thinking like Chris Hoke. Harris gives the effort. It's the intensity of the effort that makes a difference.

* Effort isn't the problem with Shaun Nua. He works hard. It's the run keys and the trouble he has holding down the point of attack. I think he needs another year on the practice squad and eating everything that's not nailed down.

* And what to make of Andre Frazier? That was quite a chin-to-chin meeting with Bill Cowher during the second half of the game on the sidelines over something we're not privy to. Even an attempted intervention by James Farrior and Ike Taylor along with some concentrated coaching by Joey Porter didn't seem to help. Andre got himself a timeout and Keith Butler finally was able to smooth things over and get Frazier back on the field.

I've locked horns with Andre's dad, Guy Frazier, back in the day. He was a pretty tough hombre. I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

A word of advice to the young Frazier: My dad once told me in an exchange, when I thought I had come of age, that "you may be standing up on the inside, but you best be sitting down on the outside!"

Steel City Insider Top Stories