Stewart Playing For A Contract Now

The prognosis is good for Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox to make a full recovery from head and neck injuries suffered in Sunday's 31-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans. But with Maddox likely being out of the lineup for at least two weeks - that's my guess - the next question is how's Kordell Stewart's head?

Stewart didn't have a head trauma like Maddox, but he did have the starting quarterback job ripped out from under him after two poor starts to begin the season. Given Stewart's fragile psyche, you have to wonder how ready he is to take over again, even if it is for just a few weeks.

Then again, at this point, Stewart has nothing to lose and everything to gain by coming out and playing well. The Steelers will release Stewart at the end of this season rather than pay him a $7-million salary.

But if Stewart plays well, he will still be able to command a pretty good salary on the open market. So now the Steelers have a quarterback playing for a contract.

It also doesn't hurt that Stewart played very well in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss, completing 13-of-17 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Sure, the Titans were in a prevent defense, but Stewart also made some very nice downfield throws, especially on the two touchdown passes.

And you have to love the irony of the fact that the very fans who wrote Stewart off earlier in this season will now be forced to see the team's playoff hopes rest upon his shoulders again this season.

The injury to Maddox was horrific, but the Steelers are fortunate enough to have two very capable backups - don't forget about Charlie Batch - behind him. Think the Philadelphia Eagles wouldn't mind having one of the two Steelers backups right now?

Here are some more thoughts from a writer who achieved his goal of a night out on the town in Nashville without hearing the twang of a single country song:

  • Where were the trick plays this week? The Steelers ran the ill-fated Bettis reverse and throwback - it worked in practice guys - and a couple of other little games in the backfield with fake pitches, but there were none of the wide receiver runs we had seen work so well in recent weeks.

    Considering the way the team was struggling to run the ball, a reverse here or there to Hines Ward or Antwaan Randle El may have been a big help.

  • The Steelers will beat the bushes and look under every rock to find a new kicker this week. Know this. Steelers head coach Bill Cowher is not very likely to go with a young, unproven player. All he needs is someone who can make a 35-yard field goal consistently.

    I wonder what Norm Johnson is doing right now?

  • Jose Cortez from San Francisco could be available soon. He missed a 41-yarder in overtime as the 49ers lost to San Diego. Of course, if the Steelers signed Cortez, part of his first paycheck would belong to me and a lot of other people out there who felt the 49ers would beat the Chargers by more than two points.
  • Green Bay was blown out in Minnesota and New Orleans lost to Atlanta for the second time this season Sunday. Throw in the loss by San Francisco and it tells you the only given in this season is that every team has its warts.

    Are the Steelers a great team? Nope.

    But they have a lot of the same problems other teams do. Believe it or not, they are still one of the top five or six teams in the league.

  • Hey Chad Scott, it's called tackle football. Same goes for the rest of you guys in the secondary.
  • On the way back from the airport, I kept hearing on the radio how the Titans won the game on the ground against the Steelers. Note to the guy on the radio: 121 yards on 40 carries is not a great rushing day.

    Eddie George had two rushing touchdowns, but he also had just 79 yards on 28 carries, an average of 2.8 yards per attempt. That is not a good rushing day.

  • Had Steve McNair not been superhuman on third down - the Titans converted 12-of-19 attempts - George would have had only about 15 rushing attempts.

    The Titans game plan looked like it called for George to run on first and second downs for one-yard each and then for McNair to convert a third-and-eight.

    Come to think of it, given how the Steelers' dime package has played, that's not a bad game plan.

  • --Dale Lolley

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