Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Wake-up call: Harrison blames players
By Jamison Hensley
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Steelers linebacker James Harrison vented his frustrations about the team's underachieving defense, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that changes must be made if the struggles continue.
"Every man needs to do his job, take care of his responsibilities," Harrison told the paper. "It's not the scheme, it's not other BS; it's each man doing his job, and, right now, every man is not doing his job, period."
If Harrison isn't blaming the scheme, he's pointing fingers at the players, although he didn't name anyone specifically.
"Each man needs to nut up, look at himself and get in there and take care of his responsibilities," he said. "Each play is 11 individuals; if one person doesn't get the job done, it looks bad for the whole squad."
Hensley's slant: Harrison didn't name anyone, but everyone else sure can. Defensive end Aaron Smith is getting beat at the point of attack, linebacker James Farrior has disappeared and safety Troy Polamalu is missing tackles. But before we push the panic button, the Steelers' defense is still ranked second in the NFL in fewest yards allowed and fifth in points given up. What's missing is the game-changing plays that everyone has come to expect from this defense.
- BENGALS: Right guard Bobbie Williams is back from his four-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance. He could play Sunday at Jacksonville, coach Marvin Lewis said via Bengals.com. Mike McGlynn started at right guard last Sunday after rookie Clint Boling had started the first three games. Hensley's slant: Williams' return is a boost to the running game. He is still the second-best offensive lineman on the team even though he isn't the same player from a few years ago. Look for the Bengals to start running more to the right side, where Williams packs a strong punch.
- BROWNS: Pro Bowl center Alex Mack played Sunday with appendicitis and underwent surgery Monday, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He will rest during the bye week and hasn't been ruled out for the Oct. 16 game at Oakland. Per the Plain Dealer, Mack threw up during Thursday's practice and played against the Titans with what he considered to be the flu. Hensley's slant: Not sure how Mack played with appendicitis, but no one should count him out for that next game. Unfortunately, Mack's toughness will probably stir up the debate again with running back Peyton Hillis, who recently sat out a game with strep throat.
- RAVENS: There was no update on the status of starting safety Tom Zbikowski, according to The Baltimore Sun. Zbikowski suffered a concussion Sunday night against the Jets, but he will have a week to rest because Baltimore is on its bye week. Hensley's slant: This isn't a major problem for the Ravens because there's no drop-off with backup Bernard Pollard. Although injuries forced the Ravens to use both Zbikowski and Pollard in their nickel defense, depth shouldn't be a problem with cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (ankle) and Chris Carr (hamstring) expected to return following the bye.