--Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis could not find much comfort in a statement
Coach Bill Cowher recently made. Speaking of the poor performance by
Pittsburgh's pass defense last season, Cowher said, "A lot people during
the season said, 'Oh, they have to do something about their secondary.' Yeah, we
missed a few tackles but some of it was what we did schematically, too. Some of
it was bad design."
--The Steelers want to draft a quarterback and it's possible they could use
their first pick on one. Florida's Rex Grossman paid them a visit last week and
California's Kyle Boller will arrive in town this week. It's possible Grossman
could slip to them at No. 27 but they would have to trade way up in the round to
get a shot at Boller.
--Many in the organization would like to see them draft Penn State RB Larry
Johnson. The Steelers have been set at running back for years but with the
status of Jerome Bettis still undecided, they could go for Johnson. Ideally,
they hope Bettis, 31, overcomes knee surgery and gets himself into shape so he
can play one more season. They could get through another year with a healthy
Bettis, with Amos Zereoue and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala. But they may not have a
good read on Bettis' condition by the time of the draft.
--The Steelers privately are enraged over their schedule in November. The NFL
sends them to Seattle on Nov. 2. They play at home against Arizona the following
week but then must go back to the West Coast for a Monday night game at San
Francisco on Nov. 17. They have to play at Cleveland, their bitter AFC North
rivals, the following week. The NFL rarely sends a team on the road following a
road Monday night game and added insult when they scheduled that Monday night
game on the West Coast.
--Pittsburgh opens at home, against Baltimore Sept. 7, for the first time since
2000, when they lost to the Ravens 16-0. They will play the 1,000th game in
franchise history against the St. Louis Rams Oct. 26. Two of their three
prime-time games are on the road -- at San Francisco and at Baltimore Sunday
night Dec. 28, the final NFL game of the regular-season. Their only prime-time
home game will occur Oct. 5 against Cleveland on Sunday night.
--Each NFL team is permitted to entertain 20 college players until April. 17.
The Steelers sent invitations to 17, more than they've had in town before the
draft in years.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There is nothing wrong with the expectation level, as long
as when it's all said and done that we just don't look at it as we did not meet
the expectation level, the season was a failure." -- Coach Bill Cowher,
reflecting on last season in which the Steelers were AFC favorites to reach the
Team Skinny: Author: TSX
NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: DB, LB, QB. 1. Defensive back (either corner or safety,
they need younger, better, faster). 2. Linebacker (They need a strong backup on
the outside), 3. Quarterback (The last young quarterback they developed was
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE John Allred (not a priority); S Lee Flowers (they
will not try to re-sign him); LB Mike Jones (they aren't interested in him); WR
Terance Mathis (unlikely to return); P Tom Rouen (was an injury replacement and
won't be back).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DT Kendrick Clancy (tendered at $605,000 with 3rd-round
pick as compensation); DE Clark Haggans (tendered at $605,000 with 5th-round
pick as compensation); FB Dan Kreider (tendered at $605,000 with no
compensation); CB Hank Poteat (tendered at $605,000 with 3rd-round pick as
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: QB Charlie Batch (UFA; $2M/2 yrs, $470,000 SB); TE Matt
Cushing (UFA; $530,000/1 yr; 2003 cap: $450,000); TE Jerame Tuman (UFA: $3.3M/3
yrs, $600,000 SB; 2003 cap: $730,000); OG Keydrick Vincent (Potential ERFA;
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: OT Todd Fordham (UFA Jaguars; $2.4M/3 yrs, $470,000 SB); LB
Clint Kriewaldt (UFA $2.38M/3 yrs, $420,000 SB; 2003 cap: $670,000); TE Jay
Riemersma (FA Bills; $3.95M/3 yrs, $850,000 SB).
PLAYERS LOST: TE Marco Battaglia (UFA Dolphins; 1 yr, terms unknown); OT Wayne
Gandy (UFA Saints; $25M/6 yrs, $5M SB); PK Todd Peterson (cut); QB Kordell
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.