I'm Still Here

PITTSBURGH - In training camp, Steelers receiver Hines Ward complained about not getting the ball thrown to him in the team's practices and the preseason games. Now it's Plaxico Burress' turn.

Burress has caught just two passes for 21 yards in the Steelers' first two games, which were both losses. It's not what people expected of a player who caught 66 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Instead of "Where's Waldo?", in reference to the children's book that challenges readers to find a red-clad character hiding in pictures, Steelers fans are asking, "Where's Plaxico?"

"It just seems like I'm not in the game," said Burress. "I get two attempts thrown to me in a half. It's kind of like you feel like you want to show some frustration, but I'm not going to grab the phone and say, ‘Throw me the football,' or anything like that."

Still, Burress was visibly upset on several occasions Sunday night when he returned to the sidelines after another Steelers punt or incompletion.

"All I can do is keep on showing that I can get open," Burress said. "When they turn the film on Monday or Tuesday, or whenever, they'll see that I'm open. That's all you can do is keep working hard, control what you can control and just keep playing."

While Burress had just two pass attempts thrown in his direction in the first half of Sunday night's 30-17 loss to Oakland, the Steelers have attempted to get him the ball with little success. In each of these first two games, the Steelers have thrown eight passes in Burress' direction and this has netted two completions (one for each game), 10 incompletions, one pass interference penalty, one interception, three offensive penalties, and one set of offsetting penalties. And on two occasions, Burress has made huge blunders.

In the season opener at New England, Burress caught a pass from a scrambling Stewart in the back of the end zone but was unable to get both of his feet down inbounds. Two plays later, Todd Peterson missed a field goal and the Steelers came away empty.

Against the Raiders, Burress' only catch - he had a 27-yard gain called back because of a holding penalty on Wayne Gandy - was one he'd just as soon forget. With Oakland leading 27-17, the Steelers were driving when Stewart hit Burress for a 10-yard pass along the sideline with four minutes left in the game. Instead of getting out of bounds, Burress turned to the inside and fumbled while being tackled, effectively ending any hopes of a Steelers comeback.

"We've all got to go out and correct our mistakes and look at ourselves in the mirror and come out and play better," he admitted. "We led the league in time of possession last season and we haven't done that this year. We're not executing on offense. We need to correct that and refocus ourselves and look at what is going to get us to the point of being a good football team."

"We need to come out and play hard and forget about what everyone is saying."

--Dale Lolley

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