Craig Wolfley's wet and wildcard notes

Steelers Radio Network sideline reporter Craig Wolfley checks in with his notes, suggestions, breakdowns, and fixes for the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Steelers.

Okay, this rain stuff is starting to get to me. Four of the last five games, or five of the last six I've had to wear rain gear. It's very hard to get the M&Ms out of your pocket, and then if you get too close to the heaters, well, it's not pretty.

I know there's been a lot of disgruntled fans that think Allen Rossum hasn't done much this year. But, and tell the truth now, if Willie Reid didn't conjure up some memories of Ricardo Colclough, then you weren't really watching the game.

I couldn't believe when I saw Max Starks taking a seat on the bench. The trainers were trying to pull a rubber sleeve up on Max's monstrous left thigh. It wasn't going. Neither was Max. And he even gave me the okie-doke. He gave thumbs up, as if he'd be back. Next thing I know he's under the knife.

In my mind I would go the Alan Faneca to tackle and Chris Kemoeatu at guard route for the upcoming Jacksonville game. That Hawkins guy and the other pass rushers the Jags can turn loose on Ben make the aforementioned line-up the best chance for success right now, in my humble opinion. Chris has played more than Trai, and Alan can handle the speed rushers better than Trai.

Losing Jeremy Tuman has accelerated the learning curve of Matt Spaeth. I realize his receiving numbers have fallen off, but his blocking prowess has only gotten better. On Najeh's one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Spaeth had a good block on whomever he was locked into on the end of the line. He kept his feet digging and his back flat. He's learning.

If the last couple of games has proven anything to any fan, it should be this. Anytime Aaron Smith's contract comes up, he should get whatever he wants. The loss of Smith really highlights just what a great player he is.

I know Travis Kirschke would love to get a mulligan and try that Cory Smith 32-yard run all over again. Ross hit it and Travis had to cross the face of the tackle. He didn't. It was all lean and green to the end zone.

That play really summarizes the trouble the Steelers have had in defending the run. Mental errors have lead to breakdowns that are very uncharacteristic for this team.

I would love to see Chris Hoke get some snaps at Aaron's defensive end position. Hokie can play the run and still mount a pass rush. The thing that he does better than anybody is that he never quits. He's like the Terminator in that regard. He ends up getting sacks because the beeper on the opposing lineman goes off signaling a halt to the action, and Hokie keeps right on chugging. I think he could shut down the cutback. And you know he could hold the point.

Anthony Smith is falling prey to the "just been benched" syndrome. Though he was forced back into the starting lineup because of Troy's knee, he's got second-guessing going on in his head. This is a critical time in Anthony's career. He has all the tools, but he's got to make the plays. Right now he's talking to himself. Even Dr. Phil might have a tough time with this one.

Nate Washington is in a good place right now. He's making the jump to being an accomplished pro. Now he's got to keep doing it. All that other stuff has to be left behind and he needs to keep his nose to the grindstone.

I have spent some time talking to Nate and he's an interesting guy. Coming from such a small program as Tiffin, he's had a hard time jumping levels such as the NFL life presents. Keeping the focus on football when there's so much out there that can distract a young guy is one of the hardest jobs for a coach to emphasize to a young buck. Here's hoping that it lasts.

Casey Hampton is worth watching just for the sheer enjoyment of seeing high level body tossing the old fashioned way. Mike Flynn (the Ravens center) came flying out of the line of scrimmage a couple times like a ping-pong ball.

Lamar Woodley is going to make a fine pro. He's got a nice lean to his uppercut on the edge. If he ever learns the Reggie White "Hump" move, complete with the club, he'll annihilate some people.

James Harrison is strong, but his bull rush that had him looking eyeball-to-belly with Ravens offensive tackle Jon Ogden reminded me of the Biblical account of Jonah being swallowed by the whale.

I was a little disappointed that Gary Russell didn't see more PT. I'm very curious to see what this guy can do. He showed great patience, vision and balance in the pre-season.

Okay, bring on the Jags. I don't know if this team can catch lightning in a bottle come Saturday night, but I'm hoping it can happen. The playoffs have a funny way of creating urgency in players.

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