Notebook: Win or else for Colon

Willie Colon (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

The Pittsburgh Steelers must defeat the lowly 1-8 New York Jets because of Bronx pride. Read below for details on that and the Jets' biggest problems, advice from the offensive coordinator, and what the newest Steeler has to say.

Willie Colon is home in New York, where he grew up in the projects as a faithful Giants fan. Before he returned, he was asked by a reporter if he'd bought enough tickets for today's game to satisfy his "entourage."

"Entourage, huh? No, my entourage will be fine," said Colon, the Steelers' right offensive tackle. "They'll be taken care of. They're excited. I've been getting calls all week. Everybody's pumped up. They've been watching me on TV and they're all excited. But my goal is to get the job done. I'll shake hands and kiss babies after."

Colon requested 16 tickets and the two most important are for his mother Jean and her twin sister Joan. They raised Colon in the South Bronx, where it would've been easy for him to lose hope. Colon just rolls his eyes when the violin music begins to play on his life story.

"Listen man, I've seen guys die in front me. I've seen shootouts. I've seen it all, things a kid at a young age should never see," he said. "You just realize that if you don't want that lifestyle, you don't go where those people go. Football and basketball kept me out of a lot of those situations. Instead of going home and sitting on the couch, I had practice, I was in the weight room, I was doing stuff. That was my escape from a lot of things that were really going on. The only bad thing, my building in the project center was really drug-infested, so going home sometimes was annoying because you had like 10 drug dealers in the front of your building.

"That's just motivation, man. God blessed me and kept me safe."

A first-year starter, Colon returns to the projects frequently to visit his mom and aunt. Mom is steadfast that she won't be moved, no matter how much money her son makes. She only asks that her beloved Steelers – her favorite team before her son was drafted last year out of Hofstra – beat the woeful 1-8 Jets.

"I told him, ‘William, you better beat the Jets,'" said Jean Davis. "‘If you don't, I'm going to change the locks.'"


The blame for the Jets' 1-8 start after a 10-6 2006 can be blamed on the poor play of both lines.

Last year, the Jets allowed 34 sacks and this year they've already given up 23. On defense, they're tied for last in the NFL with a paltry nine sacks.

The Jets' top pass rusher is Shaun Ellis with two sacks. He had five last year and was tied for third on the team. Last year's leader with 8.5, Bryan Thomas, has only 1.5 sacks this season.

The Jets also figure to have a hard time protecting Kellen Clemens in his third start. In each of his previous starts, against the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins, Clemens was sacked four times and pressured into two interceptions. The Jets are 23rd in the league in fewest sacks allowed.


… being down to two tight ends: "It's tough for a three-tight end offense. … You take the fullbacks and use them where we were using tight ends and they've got to learn some new techniques."

… using Chris Kemoeatu at fullback again: "That was Danny (Kreider) being down; just another package. You try to utilize what you've got. He did a good job, so we'll explore that more, too."

… whether a bye will tempt the Jets to be more creative: "No, it's more of a temptation to go back and see what they've done before. These guys last year were a blitz-crazy team and they're not that right now, so you've got to go back. They were also a very multiple front in the first four ball games and have been very vanilla since. They're playing pretty good. Do they go back to those? You have to get ready for all of it. We went back through all of those games."

… advice to young, would-be coaches: "You've got to buy a house on wheels and you've got to have one hellacious wife. Anybody who wants to get into this business has to be married to one heck of a woman."


Jerame Tuman was put on IR but the Steelers replaced him with another Michigan man. Grant Mason was a cornerback at the University of Michigan and signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2006 as an undrafted free agent. The Steelers had also been interested in signing Mason, so they picked him up when the Saints cut him, moved him to safety, and put him in NFL Europe.

"I had a pretty productive year over there and then came back for camp and just fought my way on to the practice squad," Mason said. "Then in the preseason I got to play a lot because we were banged up at the safety spot, and I think I made enough plays for them to feel like I have some potential. The whole preseason I played well. I had a couple forced fumbles during the preseason and I made a play here and there on special teams, too." With the Steelers looking for special-teamers, Mason has a chance to stick. Recommended Stories

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