A Round of Shot & A Beer Appetizers

If Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert decides late one fall morning that he wants to do a little scouting, he doesn’t have to leave the building where his second-floor office is located in Pittsburgh’s Southside.

Colbert can just walk downstairs to the cafeteria and meet up with any number of college players from the University of Pittsburgh. Such is an advantage that no other NFL team has, because the Steelers and the Pitt football team share a building at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex.

Built on the south bank of the Monongahela River on a site that was once a steel mill, this complex features all the bells and whistles an NFL team needs, plus there’s a college team training right next door. Both teams have access to all sorts of medical professionals and testing right in the complex. Should a player need an MRI, he doesn’t even have to leave the complex.

“The left side of the building was there side and the right side of the building was ours; it was like a two-apartment complex,” said Chiefs WR Jonathan Baldwin, who spent three years in the Pitt program practicing on site. “It was unique. We would go out for practice and they would still be out there for their practice and we could watch them and see how the NFL practices.

“Just getting advice from those guys, being able to sit down and have lunch with a Hines Ward. The cafeteria was the only thing we shared in the building, so that’s where you were able to talk to Hines Ward, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and guys like that.

“You see them and how hard they work, you see them using different techniques and you get to see them live and in-person, not on tape,” said Baldwin. “I felt I learned a lot watching them practice and work.”

So what type of advantage does the complex give the Steelers? Since they moved in before the 2000 season, there have been 11 NFL Drafts and the Steelers have not selected a single player from the University of Pittsburgh. Of course, maybe the advantage comes from also knowing who not to draft.

PATRIOTS GUARD PAYS UP FOR CHEAP SHOT

Towards the end of the Chiefs-Patriots game last Monday night, the Patriots scored a touchdown on a Tom Brady pass. But the play was wiped out by a pair of penalties against New England. One was for an illegal formation and the other was an unsportsmanlike conduct call against left guard Logan Mankins.

At the end of the play, he cheap-shotted Chiefs defensive lineman Amon Gordon, knocking him down for no good reason other than he was standing there. The league announced on Friday it had fined Mankins $7,500 for the push.

ANOTHER FIRST START ON SUNDAY

Last Monday night in New England it was Tyler Palko getting start No. 1 in the NFL. When the Chiefs face the Steelers on Sunday night, rookie guard Rodney Hudson will get his first start, stepping in on the left side for the injured Ryan Lilja (head).

Hudson will become the 41st player to start a game for the Chiefs this season. He’s also the first offensive linemen other than the five starters to open a game. There are a dozen starters who have opened all 10 games on the season for the Chiefs: LT Branden Albert, RG Jon Asamoah, ILB Jovan Belcher, WR Dwayne Bowe, CB Brandon Carr, CB Brandon Flowers, OLB Tamba Hali, ILB Derrick Johnson, FS Kendrick Lewis, LG Ryan Lilja, RT Barry Richardson and C Casey Wiegmann.

In comparison, the Steelers have had 37 different players open the game.

TYLER PALKO AND HIS PREPARATION

If performance came down to only preparation, Tyler Palko would be All-Pro.

“This guy is all football; he’s been all football for his entire life,” said head coach Todd Haley. “He’s said a number of times to me over the last couple years that, ‘I don’t have anything else. This is what matters to me, football.’

“I saw no change in his preparation from the last two years when he was on the practice squad to the backup to then he was going to be the starter. I saw no deviation or change in his preparation and you’d say, ‘Well, wow, that’s not a good thing,’ but that’s a great thing because he worked that hard two years ago, he worked that hard this entire season, last year and this year that I’ve been around him. That’s all you can ask.

“Last night (Tuesday) I had to send him home. I said, ‘Did you sleep on the plane? No.’ And I know we watched the tape together on the plane. I said, ‘Did you sleep on the plane after you left watching with me? No, I couldn’t sleep.’ And I said, ‘Well, you need to go get some sleep,’ and I had to kick him out of here at 10 or something last night. And last week, it was probably at about midnight, I started getting texts from Kurt Warner saying, ‘Let him go.’ I said, ‘I’m not keeping him. He’s as bad as you.’ Those are good qualities to have and it won’t mean that you’re successful, but it’ll give you a chance to be successful.”


One Response to “A Round of Shot & A Beer Appetizers”

  • November 27, 2011  - Milkman says:

    If Palko is really that crazy about football, it will be hard not to root for him to succeed. Just imagine if someone with that kind of heart had more God given talent. I think that is what makes players like Manning, Brees, and Brady so special. They have the talent and the drive. I also think that is why so many teams are reluctant to spend a high draft choice on a quarterback. I think the Chiefs are one of those teams. Law of averages suggests we will hit on one some day.




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