Pittsburgh Steelers: Leon Hall

LaMarr Woodley pulling for Lynch

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
Steel City wake-up: morning links

The last time the Seattle Seahawks played in the Super Bowl tight end Jerramy Stevens made headlines for inciting a war of words with Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter.

This time a Seahawks player is making news for what he isn't saying.

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has been a most reluctant participant in the media sessions that are mandatory for the players and coaches on each team.

Lynch has said very little and candidly admitted the only reason he has shown up for the media scrums is so he won't get fined. Lynch has received some criticism for not cooperating more with the media during the sessions, but among those who have defended the Pro Bowl back are Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

Woodley, while appearing on the BET's 106 & Park on Wednesday, predicted that the Seahawks will beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. He also said he will be pulling for Seattle on Sunday because of his friendship with Lynch.

"He's been getting a lot of [criticism] talking about how he don't do no media stuff, but he's a great dude," Woodley said. "He comes out to my football camp every year. He's great with the kids. Everybody loves him and I want to see him get a ring."
  • Jerome Bettis got his ring when the Steelers beat Stevens' Seahawks in the 2005 Super Bowl and then rolled triumphantly into retirement. "The Bus" has yet to pull into Canton, Ohio, but that could change Saturday. Bettis is among 15 modern-day finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and this should be the year he achieves football immortality.
  • Steelers.com's Teresa Varley caught up with Bill Cowher, and the former Steelers coach is among those who are lobbying for Bettis to make it into the Hall of Fame on his fourth try.
  • Here is a clip I meant to post earlier of Bettis and Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen appearing together on ESPN's "SportsCenter." The two talked Pittsburgh and didn't limit their discussion to sports.
  • From the Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette writes that the Seahawks' success could have a similar on impact on Seattle as the Steelers' rise in the 1970s did on Pittsburgh.
  • The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly examines a significant shift in Mike Tomlin's philosophy when it comes to hiring assistant coaches.

And around the rest of the AFC North...
  • ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley has been busy tracking the additions and subtractions on John Harbaugh's coaching staff. Hensley ponders the influence new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak could have as Harbaugh fills the remaining openings on his staff.
  • ESPN.com Browns reporter Pat McManamon writes about Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase -- and how his focus on his current job prevented him from becoming a serious candidate for the head-coaching position that Cleveland filled last week.
  • ESPN.com Bengals reporter Coley Harvey takes a look at how injuries to defensive tackle Geno Atkins and cornerback Leon Hall shaped Cincinnati's season.
Steel City wake-up: morning links

Le'Veon Bell had the best game of his young career against the Ravens, rushing for 93 yards and averaging almost 5 yards per carry. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley took advantage of Bell’s versatility and showcased the rookie in a host of different formations.

As a result, Bell rushed for roughly 66 percent of his yards on first down, and that helped the Steelers stay out of third-and-long for much of their 19-16 win at Heinz Field.

Bell’s emergence as an every-down back led to the release of Isaac Redman, who opened the season as the starter at running back but became the odd man out in the backfield after Bell returned from a mid-foot sprain.

The Steelers have now released both of their leading rushers from 2012 since late August, though they re-signed Jonathan Dwyer after LaRod Stephens-Howling went down with a season-ending knee injury.

The running game is trending upward with Bell and an offensive line that is coming off what was easily its best game of the season. The Steelers, meanwhile, have put together back-to-back wins for the first time in almost a year.

There is still much work ahead for the 2-4 Steelers, and their disastrous start has left them little margin for error. That is why the players said to a man that the Steelers did not announce their return with their first regular-season win over the Ravens since 2009.

A look around the AFC shows that the Steelers have to continue stringing wins together just to get into the discussion about the playoffs. Kansas City’s surprising 7-0 start doesn’t help as it all but guarantees that at least one of the two wild-card spots will go to a team in the AFC West.

The Bengals have taken early control of the AFC North but their 27-24 win over the Lions came at a significant cost. Cornerback Leon Hall left the game with what has been reported as a season-ending Achilles injury.