NFL Nation: david decastro

All-AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

 
The Steelers placed six players on ESPN.com’s All-AFC North team, including unanimous selections in wide receiver Antonio Brown and outside linebacker Jason Worilds. First, some background on how the team was selected. All four ESPN NFL Nation reporters who cover the respective teams in the AFC North on a daily basis voted on the squad, and we voted based on players’ specific positions in the case of the offensive line. That is why David DeCastro and Marshal Yanda are not the guards on the team. Both play right guard, and DeCastro got the nod over Yanda even though the latter has been voted to the Pro Bowl.

Wide receiver and inside linebacker were clearly the strength of the division. Brown, A.J. Green and Josh Gordon were all unanimous picks at wide receiver. All three are headed to the Pro Bowl and deservedly so. Lawrence Timmons had a Pro Bowl-caliber season, but he didn’t make the All-AFC North team because of the depth at inside linebacker. I voted for Timmons but can’t quibble with the selections of Daryl Smith and Vontaze Burfict. Each had outstanding seasons. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham makes the team in most other divisions but had no chance against Justin Tucker. Cameron Heyward stated his case at defensive end with a breakout season. But he didn’t become a starter until the fifth game of the season, and Bengals defensive ends Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap were the picks at the position.

Rookie Le’Veon Bell justified his pick at running back with a strong finish that included 214 of his 860 rushing yards in the Steelers’ final two games. He is one of the main reasons why the Steelers are so excited about their offense heading into the offseason. Ben Roethlisberger was the obvious choice at quarterback. The 10-year veteran played every snap and had one of the best statistical seasons of his career. Roethlisberger is almost a lock to be added to the Pro Bowl squad, assuming a couple of the quarterbacks voted to the team bow out because their team has made the Super Bowl or are nursing an injury.

Pro Bowl selections: Pittsburgh Steelers

December, 27, 2013
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PITTSBURGH -- Wide receiver and team MVP Antonio Brown and strong safety Troy Polamalu were the two Pittsburgh Steelers selected to the Pro Bowl.

The team was selected after a vote by players, coaches and fans and, as usual, it stirred immediate debate. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and right guard David DeCastro were among the Steelers' most notable omissions. The Browns placed five players on the team -- most in the AFC North -- even though they only have four victories.

Brown makes the Pro Bowl for the second time and first as a wide receiver. His selection was a no-brainer as Brown has already set a Steelers record for receiving yards in a season (1,412) and has an outside chance of breaking Hines Ward's franchise record for receptions in a season.

Brown needs 12 catches Sunday against the Browns to surpass the 112 receptions Ward had in 2002. He is third in the NFL in both catches and receiving yards.

Polamalu made the Pro Bowl for an eighth time, and he has played every game this season after missing nine last season because of a calf injury. Polamalu is tied for the Steelers lead in interceptions (two) and passes defensed (12).

Polamalu is tied for second in the AFC with five forced fumbles and he is third on the Steelers with 81 tackles.

Roethlisberger was not one of six quarterbacks voted to the Pro Bowl -- the teams were selected regardless of conference for the first time -- even though he is having one of the best seasons of his career.

Roethlisberger, who became the Steelers’ all-time leader in touchdown passes earlier this season, has already set a franchise record for completions (356) in a season. He needs 247 passing yards on Sunday to break the record he set in 2009 for passing yards in a season (4.328).

Russell Wilson and Cam Newton were among the quarterbacks who made the Pro Bowl ahead of Roethlisberger, and it’s hard to argue with either pick given the success of their respective teams.

Roethlisberger will almost surely get added to the team as players bow out due to injuries or the fact that their team is playing in the Super Bowl, which is a week after the Pro Bowl.

DeCastro is also a strong candidate to get added to the Pro Bowl at a later date. The second-year man has established himself as one of the top guard in the NFL in his first full season as a starter.

The Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 26 in Honolulu.

A draft will be held Jan. 22 as captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will pick their respective teams among those who made the Pro Bowl.

Click here for the complete Pro Bowl roster.

Emmanuel Sanders a game-time decision

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
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PITTSBURGH -- Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders practiced Friday and will be a game-time decision Sunday in what could be his final contest with the Steelers.

Sanders
Sanders (knee) and outside linebacker Jason Worilds (abdomen) are listed as questionable for the 1 p.m. ET game against the visiting Browns. Linebacker Terence Garvin (knee) is the only Steelers player who has been ruled out for the regular-season finale at Heinz Field.

Worilds practiced on a limited basis Friday while Sanders was listed as a full participant in drills.

“Right now I’m 50-50,” said Sanders, who sprained his knee last Sunday while making a cut on the muddy turf at Lambeau Field. “I practiced today and the pain was bearable.”

Sanders said he will play Sunday if he can’t make the injury any worse.

“I’ve always played through injuries no matter what,” said Sanders, who has played in every game this season and caught 65 passes for 714 yards and six touchdowns. “I’m not going to hold anything back, and that’s always been my mentality.

Sanders will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and he is among a handful of Steelers players who face an uncertain future.

In addition to Sanders, right guard David DeCastro (back) practiced on Friday after missing drills the previous day. DeCastro said his back won’t limit him against the Browns, who will be without starting nose tackle Phil Taylor (concussion).

"Back's fine," DeCastro said. “I’m good to go."

DeCastro, defensive end Brett Keisel (foot), outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (illness), wide receiver Markus Wheaton (finger), safety Troy Polamalu and tight end Heath Miller are all listed as probable for Sunday.

Sanders, Worilds out again for Steelers

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
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PITTSBURGH -- Outside linebacker Jason Worilds and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders have yet to practice this week, making Friday critical for each player regarding his availability for the Pittsburgh Steelers' regular-season finale.

Worilds is trying to come back from an abdomen injury and a stinger, while Sanders will try to play through a sprained knee Sunday when the Steelers host the Browns.

Worilds
Sanders
Sanders said earlier this week that his knee has to get strong enough for him to have confidence cutting on it.

“We’ve still got time and he’s working hard to give himself a chance to come out and play,” Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “He’s a competitive guy that wants to be part of this and part of having a chance to win Sunday.”

In addition to Worilds and Sanders, right guard David DeCastro (back) and linebacker Terence Garvin (knee) did not practice on Thursday. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (illness), defensive end Brett Keisel (foot) and wide receiver Markus Wheaton (finger) were full participants in practice.

The Steelers appear to be bringing Worilds along slowly after he missed most of the second half of their win at Green Bay last Sunday. His injuries and the absence of Jones – he had been scratched after getting sick the night before the game – led the Steelers to start Chris Carter at outside linebacker and play Stevenson Sylvester extensively at left outside linebacker.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said he hopes Worilds’ playing time on Sunday isn’t limited.

“But Chris will get some snaps and so will Sly,” LeBeau said. “”They’ll all four play.”

Offensive line could become a strength

December, 17, 2013
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PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers' offensive line has been beaten up in more ways than one ever since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach in 2007.

Could the oft-maligned unit become a reason why the Steelers win next season? Don't scoff.

David DeCastro has emerged as a Pro Bowl-caliber guard this season. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey is expected to return in 2014 from a torn ACL. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum has played well enough that the Steelers may not have to target the position with their first pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

[+] EnlargePittsburgh's offensive line
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarThe Steelers have a strong offensive line to build upon if they can ever stay healthy.
“The biggest problem with the offensive line,” former NFL scout and ESPN analyst Matt Williamson said, “is they can't ever start the same five guys.”

Injuries have long been the X factor along the offensive line and any optimistic forecast for its future has to come with the caveat that the Steelers, for whatever reason, cannot stay healthy up front.

Assume for the sake of argument that the line isn't as wracked by injuries next season as it has been in recent years. DeCastro, Pouncey and left guard Ramon Foster would give them a strong interior around which to build.

That is especially true in the case of DeCastro, whom Williamson said has already established himself as one of the top five or six guards in the NFL.

“He doesn't have a major weakness,” Williamson said. “He can run the power stuff. He can pass block. There's a lot to like about him.”

Williamson echoed similar sentiments about Beachum, who took over at left tackle after the fourth game of the season and has earned glowing praise from offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

The 6-3, 306-pound Beachum is not a prototypical left tackle, and teams generally find protectors for their quarterback's blind side near the beginning of the draft not the end of it.

But Beachum, a late seventh-round pick in 2012, is proving to be the exception to several rules.

“I'm starting to come around on him,” Williamson said. “He might he good enough and he seems to be getting better.”

The 2014 draft is supposed to be deep at offensive tackle, and if the Steelers use their first pick on a potential franchise left tackle, Beachum would still have a key role on the team -- whether he serves as a super sub who can play all five positions or bolsters the line at another position.

The play of DeCastro and Beachum this season is the biggest reason for optimism for the offensive line, and Mike Adams still has time to develop into a long-term starter up front, whether it is at left or right tackle.

Injuries can scramble the offensive line throughout the season as the Steelers well know. But the investment they have made in their line in recent drafts could really start to pay off next season.

If the group can stay relatively healthy.

Brett Keisel out again for Steelers

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
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PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers will be without starting defensive end Brett Keisel for at least another week.

Keisel
Keisel
A nagging foot injury will sideline the 12-year veteran for the Steelers' Sunday night game against the Bengals. Keisel has played just one game since hurting his foot in the Steelers' 23-10 win over the Bills more than a month ago.

The Steelers are relatively healthy for their second game of the season against the Bengals.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu practiced Friday after sitting out the first two practices of the week because of a shoulder injury. He is among seven players who are listed as probable for the 8:30 p.m. ET game Sunday at Heinz Field.

Kelvin Beachum is also listed as probable after missing last Sunday's game with a knee injury. Barring a setback, the second-year player will start at left tackle against the Bengals.

Also probable are wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder), right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle), right guard David DeCastro (foot) and defensive end Ziggy Hood (ankle).

Nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) is listed as questionable.

LT Beachum stays on track for Steelers

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
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PITTSBURGH -- Left tackle Kelvin Beachum practiced for a second consecutive day and remained on track to return Sunday night against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals.

Beachum
Beachum (knee), right guard David DeCastro (foot) and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder) were among the players nursing injuries who were not limited in practice on Thursday.

One player to monitor is strong safety Troy Polamalu (shoulder), who didn’t practice for a second consecutive day. The Steelers are probably just being cautious with Polamalu, though the problem could be something that cropped up this week.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not mention Polamalu on Tuesday when he provided an injury update at his weekly news conference.

Tomlin said on Tuesday that Brett Keisel (foot) would try to work his way back. But the veteran defensive end has yet to practice this week, making Friday a critical day as far as his status for the Bengals game.

In addition to Keisel, nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) did not practice for the second consecutive day.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) was limited on Thursday after practicing fully on Wednesday.

Beachum on track to return for Steelers

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
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PITTSBURGH -- Left tackle Kelvin Beachum was a full participant in the Steelers’ first practice of the week, and he is on track to play Sunday against the visiting Bengals.

Beachum had started eight consecutive games at left tackle before spraining his knee in a 22-20 loss to the Ravens on Thanksgiving. Coach Mike Tomlin did not commit to starting Beachum against the Bengals Tuesday at his weekly news conference. How much and how well Beachum practices will determine who protects quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side against the Bengals, Tomlin said.

Mike Adams started at left tackle against the Dolphins and played one of his best games of the season.

Less certain of returning to action this week for the Steelers is defensive end Brett Keisel.

The veteran defensive end did not practice on Wednesday, and he has played in just one of the Steelers’ last four games because of plantar fasciitis.

Also not practicing for the Steelers because of injuries were defensive end Ziggy Hood (ankle), nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle), right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and strong safety Troy Polamalu (shoulder).

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder) and right guard David DeCastro (foot) were full participants in practice despite nursing injuries.

Woodley, Bell appear good to go

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely have their two best pass-rushers Sunday when they host the Dolphins as well as their leading rusher.

Bell
Woodley
Woodley
Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf) and running back Le'Veon Bell (concussion) are listed as probable for the 1 p.m. game at Heinz Field along with starting right guard David DeCastro (foot).

Woodley has missed the past three games, and his anticipated return will allow the Steelers to start him opposite Jason Worilds, who leads the team with six sacks. Woodley has said he will start at left outside linebacker even though Worilds has shined there in his absence.

Bell still has to pass league-mandated concussion tests before he is cleared to return to action.

Unless he suffers a setback Bell will run behind an offensive line that will have its sixth different starting combination this season.

Cody Wallace will make his first career start at center while Mike Adams is likely to start at left tackle with Kelvin Beachum (knee) doubtful to play against the Dolphins.

Adams, who started the first four games at left tackle before losing the job, has been dealing with an ankle injury but he is listed as probable for Sunday.

Nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) is questionable for Sunday. Defensive end Brett Keisel (foot) had been ruled out earlier this week for the game.
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers will have to try to beat the Dolphins Sunday while they are shorthanded.

Keisel
Keisel
How many starters they will be missing for the 1 p.m. ET game, however, remains to be seen.

Defensive end Brett Keisel isn’t expected to play Sunday, and the Steelers could also be missing left tackle Kelvin Beachum and right guard David DeCastro because of knee and ankle injuries, respectively.

The Steelers are optimistic that running back Le’Veon Bell will be able to play despite sustaining a concussion from a nasty goal-line collision last Thursday night in Baltimore. Bell did some running on Monday and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the rookie is on track to practice at some point this week.

“Thus far it’s been very positive with him, which is good,” Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “We’ll continue to march him back to health and make sure he goes through the necessary checkpoints to return.”

Bell has to pass a battery of tests throughout the week before he is cleared to play against the Dolphins.

Tomlin all but ruled out Keisel, who lasted just a handful of snaps last Thursday night before the plantar fasciitis that has plagued the 12th-year veteran sidelined hm.

“He had a step backwards, obviously, when he returned to action and I think he’ll be out this week,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin said Beachum and DeCastro are questionable for Sunday.

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf), nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) and offensive tackle Mike Adams (ankle) are at least expected to practice on a limited basis this week with an eye toward playing against the Dolphins.

In other injury news, center Fernando Velasco had surgery last Saturday to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. Velasco had been one of the Steelers’ most unsung players as he helped stabilize the offensive line after the loss of Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey to a torn ACL in the season opener.

Cody Wallace takes over for Velasco at center, and he will make his first NFL start on Sunday.

“I can’t say enough about what he’s done for us and the manner in which he’s done it,” Tomlin said of Velasco.
PITTSBURGH -- It is too early to tell whether rookie running back Le'Veon Bell will be able to play Sunday after suffering a concussion in the Steelers’ 22-20 loss to the Ravens last Thursday night.

Whoever gets the bulk of the carries against the visiting Dolphins will run behind an offensive line that has been scrambled by more injuries.

Beachum
The Steelers barely had enough offensive linemen to practice on Monday, and Guy Whimper said he played left tackle for the first-team offense with Kelvin Beachum out because of a knee injury.

The Steelers are already on their third center with Cody Wallace taking over for Fernando Velasco, who suffered a season-ending Achilles. They will also start their third different left tackle this season if Beachum is unable to play Sunday.

The Steelers will start their sixth different offensive line combination in the 1 p.m. game against the Dolphins.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Whimper said of the injuries that have decimated the Steelers’ offensive line. “This is crazy. It’s another obstacle we can get over, but we’ve just got to stick together as a unit.”

Whimper has started a game each at both guard positions and also played right tackle. The eighth-year veteran is in line to start against the Dolphins if Beachum and offensive tackle Mike Adams (ankle) are unable to play

Beachum and Adams, along with starting right guard David DeCastro (ankle) were among the four offensive linemen who left last Thursday night’s game with injuries.

“This year’s been kind of unusual in that way,” Wallace said of the injuries, “but we’ve had guys that have stepped in and done a good job of filling those roles.”

Wallace hopes to do the same when he makes his first career NFL start, and he won’t be the only lineman who benefits from the extra day of practice the Steelers get this week since they played last Thursday.

Center Eric Olsen, who signed with the Steelers to provide depth, practiced with the Steelers on Monday. Olsen spent Thanksgiving with his family, and the Steelers called him late Friday morning.

By the afternoon he was on a plane to Pittsburgh, and Olsen has since been in cramming mode as the third-year veteran learns a new offense.

“They’re trying to ease me in and come up for air so to speak.” Olsen said. “Luckily for me football’s football, so it’s coming along. I’m going to catch up as fast as I can.”

Upon Further Review: Steelers Week 13

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
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A review of four hot issues from the Pittsburgh Steelers' 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
AP Photo/Nick WassPittsburgh's offensive line took good care of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against the Ravens.
O-line keeps Big Ben clean again: I thought the offensive line played one of its better games of the season. It is difficult to understand why the Steelers didn’t use their no-huddle offense more before the second half, because the line did not seem all that bothered by the crowd noise. It certainly wasn’t rattled by it. The Steelers had just one pre-snap penalty -- right guard David DeCastro was flagged for a false start in the second quarter -- and the Ravens did not sack quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The line has given up one sack over the past three games, and Roethlisberger has not been sacked in the past two games. Not that any of that mattered to DeCastro after the Steelers fell to 5-7. "It’s a tough one to swallow," he said. "I thought we played OK. We didn't run the ball efficiently in the first half. We protected Ben OK, but it wasn’t enough."

O-line dealing with more injuries: How healthy the offensive line is moving forward will be an issue considering four players from that unit left the game with injuries. Coach Mike Tomlin provided the minimum on those injuries (ankle, knee, etc.), and it looked like starting center Fernando Velasco might have been the only one to suffer a potentially serious injury. Velasco hurt his right ankle, and he left M&T Bank Stadium in a walking boot and crutches. Injuries to Kelvin Beachum (knee) and Mike Adams (ankle) forced the Steelers to use three players at left tackle, and DeCastro hurt his foot. Defensive end Brett Keisel left early in the first quarter after aggravating a foot injury that had sidelined him the previous two games.

They like Ike: Torrey Smith ended up 7 yards shy of becoming the third consecutive wide receiver with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown while getting covered primarily by cornerback Ike Taylor. And Smith drew a 26-yard pass interference penalty on Taylor on a third-and-7 play in the second quarter. The Ravens were 6-of-8 on third-down conversions in the first half, and Taylor's penalty led to one of five Justin Tucker field goals in the two-point game. Smith's 54-yard catch set up the Ravens' only touchdown. It also went down as the 10th play of at least 50 yards that the Steelers have given up this season.

Not so special: The Steelers' special teams gaffes were costly -- and will likely hit Tomlin's wallet after he almost wandered onto the field during Jacoby Jones' 73-yard kickoff return while watching it on a scoreboard Jumbotron. I think Tomlin made an honest mistake and that there was no intent by the seventh-year coach to slow down Jones, who flashed through a huge opening on the left side on the way to the longest play of the game. What hurt the Steelers more than Jones' return was the botched field goal attempt in the second quarter. Kicker Shaun Suisham started his approach too early, and he never had a chance to attempt a 50-yard field goal. "We were doing it on a slow cadence to slow their pass rush," Tomlin said. "I don’t think Shaun heard the cadence." The Ravens took advantage of the short field after Suisham, who ended up with the ball, was tackled for a 12-yard loss, and they kicked a field goal. "I don’t think he did anything to beat himself up [over]," long snapper Greg Warren said of Suisham.

Steelers could be down three starters

November, 15, 2013
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers may be without three starters Sunday when they host the Detroit Lions for a 1 p.m. game.

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf), defensive end Brett Keisel (foot) and left guard Ramon Foster (ankle) all missed practice Friday for the third consecutive day.

Woodley is listed as doubtful on the Steelers’ injury report though the seventh-year veteran is holding out hope of playing against the Lions.

“There is a great chance,” Woodley said of playing. “Two days left [to heal].”

Keisel, who is battling plantar fasciitis, and Foster are listed as questionable but each is also a long shot to suit up against Detroit.

Guy Whimper said he practiced all week at left guard with the first-team offense and is preparing to start on Sunday. Ziggy Hood will start in place of Keisel if the latter can’t go.

Among the Steelers listed as probable are left tackle Kelvin Beachum (hip), right guard David DeCastro (ankle), right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle), center Fernando Velasco (knee), offensive tackle Mike Adams (ribs) and tight end Heath Miller.

Six offensive linemen are listed on the Steelers’ injury report but Foster is the only one expected to miss Sunday’s game at Heinz Field.

Rookie safety Shamarko Thomas (ankle) had been ruled out for the game earlier this week.
PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Clark applauded the restraint Jonathan Martin showed in dealing with alleged harassment from a Miami Dolphins teammate.

But the outspoken Pittsburgh Steelers free safety would not have faulted Martin had he reacted in an extreme manner after enduring bullying from Richie Incognito.

“I honestly wouldn’t have had any problem with Jonathan Martin hitting Richie Incognito in the head with a weight,” Clark said, “but that’s illegal and he’d go to jail and he shouldn’t do that. I think he handled it the right way by not being physical, by not causing more trouble by making a rash, emotional decision to retaliate with physical action.”

Martin abruptly left the Dolphins last week, setting in motion a story that has transfixed the nation because of its many layers, including NFL locker-room conduct and the issue of bullying happening in the most unlikely of places.

Steelers right guard David DeCastro is good friends with Martin -- the two started on Stanford’s offensive line for three seasons together -- and he said he has talked to his former Cardinal teammate.

“I just called him to make sure he was alright,” DeCastro said. “I could care less about football. I just wanted to make sure he was OK as a person and he is so that’s good, that’s what’s important.”

When asked if he thinks Martin still has the desire to play football, DeCastro said, “That’s up to him.”

Clark said the atmosphere that caused Martin to leave the Dolphins -- and put his football future in question -- needs to be addressed with some sort of league guidelines.

But, Clark conceded, a uniform policy is tricky since there can be such a fine line between what is considered a rite of passage for a young player and hazing -- or bullying in the extreme case that the NFL and Dolphins are sorting through right now.

“It’s not like a helmet-to-helmet hit that’s obvious where something like this you have to look subjectively and say, ‘Ah, this is how egregious I think this is,’ and that’s extremely hard,” Clark said. “I think some guidelines should be set in place. No one should have to endure that in their workplace whether they work for IBM or for the Miami Dolphins.”

Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson agreed.

“It’s a tough issue but at the end of the day you’ve got to respect each other man,” Johnson said Wednesday during a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters. “That’s what it comes down to.”

Midseason Report: Pittsburgh Steelers

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
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The Steelers lost five of their last seven games a year ago to finish 8-8 and with the first non-winning season in Mike Tomlin’s tenure as head coach. The season was framed, at least by optimists, as an aberration and deemed unacceptable by the organization that has won six Super Bowls.

If only people knew the Steelers’ second-half swoon in 2012 was but a precursor to what has transpired through the first half of this season.

The Steelers are 2-6 and need a miracle approximating the scope of the Immaculate Reception to make the playoffs. They have all but played themselves out of postseason contention before the leaves have fallen, leaving players as stunned as they are angry.

“If you would have told me in the offseason [that the Steelers would lose six of their first eight games]) I would have told you no way,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “We’re the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a great organization and it’s a winning organization.”

It’s also one that has struggled in almost every aspect on the field, and the tough times the Steelers have experienced are reflected in their midseason grades:

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