Wilson: Cowher wakes up, calls up Reid

Ricardo Colclough's down, Willie Reid is up and Chidi Iwuoma is a New England Patriot. For a team on their bye week, the last 10 days have been pretty hectic. Blogger Ryan Wilson thinks this could be a turning point in the Steelers' season.

Be careful what you ask for, I guess. After screaming for somebody – anybody – to replace Ricardo Colclough as the punt returner, head coach Bill Cowher did just that on Thursday. The thing is, Colclough's season could be over and not just because he was largely responsible for the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He injured his neck sometime in the last week and based on impending test results, it may prove serious enough to land him on the injured reserve. That's not good.

I've long thought Colclough was a liability as a returner, but that's about as insightful as predicting Dustin Diamond would never win an Oscar. Whatever, I feel awful for the guy (Colclough, not Diamond) and I don't blame his inability to catch a punted football for the Bengals loss.

He seemed to be making strides defensively, and I wonder, especially now given the potential seriousness of this injury, if the muffed punt will be the defining moment – unfair or not – of his career. Not only is that something he'll have to live with the rest of his professional life, but it's probably something that will (or at least, should) weigh on Cowher's conscience too. You know, since he actually thought it would be a good idea to keep trotting him out there.

Right now I just hope it's one of those Chukky Okobi neck injuries, or at the very least, trainer John Norwig can summon the spirit of Mr. Miyagi and pull a Daniel Larusso-at-the-All-Valley-Karate-Championship and heal Colclough in time to be back for the Chiefs game in two weeks.

In the meantime, the power of prayer works. Cowher announced that Willie Reid will dress for this week's game and he'll return punts and kick offs. Sure, this seems like a relatively straightforward proposition, but when you're talking about Cowher's recent, um, fumbles, when it comes to personnel decisions, it's never straightforward. Take, for example, this statement:

Reid will return punts for the Steelers "in the regular field," according to Cowher, who added: "We may leave Santonio [Holmes] back there for some of the plus-50 kicks. I think he's got a good feel for that. We've gone through some of those issues there."
Here's a question: Why? Why leave Santonio back there for any punts? This makes no sense. At all. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with Holmes as the punt returner, but unless there's a rational reason for him being back there in certain circumstances, why bother? Just more unneeded numbnuttery that has "potential backfire" situation written all over it.

But hey, beggars can't be choosers, so I'll quit my bellyaching. I'm just psyched to finally see Reid active on game days. Now, of course, it'll be interesting to see how much of an upgrade he proves to be.

Luckily, Colclough and Holmes set the bar pretty low, so anything short of having the punt get wedged in Reid's facemask while he stumbles into his own end zone before tearing off his helmet and chucking it to an opponent, will be an upgrade. I'm not kidding. Either way, I'm glad Cowher's now on the same page as everybody else on the planet when it comes to Reid. Let's just hope we were all right on this one.

It's worth mentioning that the Beaver County Times' Mike Bires used all of the investigative reporting might to pen this little gem in Thursday morning's paper:

Barring any changes between now and Sunday's 8:15 p.m. kickoff in San Diego, Santonio Holmes will take over as the Pittsburgh Steelers' primary punt returner.

That means the rookie wide receiver out of Ohio State, drafted by the Steelers with the 25th overall pick of the first round, will have a chance to "get some touches" as a punt returner, kickoff returner and pass catcher.

On the Steelers' latest depth chart, Holmes is listed as the No. 1 punt returner. Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson is the backup.

For the Steelers' first three games, Holmes and cornerback Ricardo Colclough took turns returning punts.

Rookie wide receiver Willie Reid, a third-round pick out of Florida State, isn't listed on the punt return team's two-deep depth chart. So it's unlikely he'll dress Sunday when the Steelers (1-2) play the Chargers (2-1) at Qualcomm Stadium.

Well, he had a 50/50 chance, I suppose. Sure, Bires covered himself by opening with, "Barring any changes … " but who doesn't know that already? Technically, he's right: if nothing changes, it'll be exactly the same. Riveting.

My question is why is he relying on the Steelers' depth chart for clues into who'll be starting and who'll be sitting? AOL blogger J.J. Cooper points out what should've been obvious to Bires:

I'm not sure if that's exactly a conclusive way to predict who will return punts, as the depth chart that is released is put together by PR people, not Bill Cowher, and if you look back at the Week 1 Depth Chart, Willie Reid was listed as the No. 1 punt returner--a lot of good that did him.
Next time, Bires might want to consult Carl Monday for tips on investigative journalism. Just a thought.

The forgotten man in all of this is cornerback Anthony Madison. He'll be added to the 53-man roster if Colclough is put on IR. My first thought was: Too bad Chidi Iwuoma is now a New England Patriot; the Steelers could really use him. My second thought was: Wait a minute. Madison was brought in to be the new-and-improved Chidi and he had a pretty solid preseason.

I actually checked my notes from training camp and here's what I scribbled about Madison after the night practice at Latrobe High School:

Rookie free agent Anthony Madison had great coverage and the ball was a bit underthrown and falls incomplete. Smith had coverage over the top but he was beaten on the play. Madison looked really good all practice. He's basically a bigger version of Chidi and he looks like he can actually contribute in the secondary.
Hopefully, this will turn out to be the case. Chidi was a sentimental favorite of mine, and I was hoping the team would re-sign him after the Jacksonville game, but it just didn't work out.

That said, those people who think the Patriots signed Iwuoma just to pick his brain about Dick LeBeau's defense are high. First of all, Bill Belichick knows full well what the Steelers' defensive strengths are, and he doesn't need another former Pittsburgh player to give him the low down. Does anybody honestly think Iwuoma can tell him something he doesn't already know from whupping up on Pittsburgh for most of this decade? Please.

I'll always pull for guys like Chidi and I hope he does very well in New England. And if things don't work out there, maybe Pittsburgh can find a way to squeeze him back on the final 53. I mean, Sean Morey has a job for cripes sake. I'm kidding, I'm kidding.

Personally, I'm kind of excited about the changes. The season is only three weeks old, but after the 1-2 start, it seems like Week 12 already. And not in a good way. I get this feeling that calling up Reid (and probably Madison) will add a spark to a team already eager to get back on the field. Let's just hope Cowher can stay out of his own way once the game starts.


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