Ed Bouchette: We just had another insightful Mike Tomlin news conference. He made the Cleveland Browns sound like the '78 Steelers. Let's go with your questions.
themesh: Ed, If everyone knows winning and losing starts with the men up front, why have the Steelers been so reluctant to sign their Offensive line men? After reading your article Sunday they can potentially lose the left side, keeping a line together is important! right?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, keeping a line together is important. But you can't overpay everyone and then keep others as well. Remember, Big Ben got his new contract this year and a lot of the money that could have gone to offensive linemen went to him. Plus, no one's saying they'll lose them just because they haven't signed them yet.
yzguy431: Ed, are the Steelers that good, or was that a weak Texans team?
Ed Bouchette: I think the Steelers are pretty darn good. I've felt that way for awhile.
themesh: Is Mario Williams that good or do the Steelers have a problem watching Ben's blind side?
Ed Bouchette: Those were the result of two mistakes including one, believe it or not, by the Texans, who flooded two men in one hole when only one of them were supposed to blitz. Maybe they should put that in their playbook.
steelydan: Ed, With the impressive play of Woods and Gay on special teams, why would MT ever want to dress Anthony Smith all season, i. e., what would he add if not for filling in for injury?
Ed Bouchette: I think you answered your own question.
CalFan: Admittedly it was just one game against a mediocre team. But based on what you saw on Sunday, do you agree that it looks like Timmons was worth a first round pick?
Ed Bouchette: From what I've seen all summer, yes.
LBsAwesome: I think the Steelers are a well run organization with a plan for the future. Their sustained success suggests this. What do you think are their plans to address the potential turnover on the OL? Might we see an in-season contract deal, or might someone (Kemo or Smith) get a big contract at the end of the season to stay here?
Ed Bouchette: Maybe Max Starks or Trai Essex will be their starting left tackle next season. Maybe Darnell Stapleton will be their starting left guard.
LBsAwesome: Kick coverage was much improved in week 1. Do you think we'll see Woods and Madison continue to dress this week, or is Anthony Smith likely to get back in the mix? Are those even related issues, or was there something else behind Smith not dressing last week?
Ed Bouchette: You have to dress the guys who performed so well for you, and those two were among many on special teams who did.
steelinsincity: I was surprised to see that Anthony Smith was inactive for the game. As much as the guy likes to cheap shot people, you would think Coach Tomlin could find a place for him on special teams. Also, didn't see much of Max Starks although he was active. Thoughts?
Ed Bouchette: No thoughts, but I do have opinions. Why would he dress Anthony Smith, because he was a third-round draft choice? So was Willie Reid, and he was cut. Smith has shown little reason for them to dress him. Starks is a backup and they do not normally play on the offensive line unless someone is hurt.
Hrocks: Defense looked awesome. Along with great linebackers, are we potentially looking at the 2008 version of the Steel Curtain?
Ed Bouchette: Let's not go overboard.
Hrocks: Willie looked great (as did the entire team) The O-Line seemed to have punched open a few holes that allowed him to make some progress up the middle. Do you think we're going to see any two back formations as Mendenhall grows?
Ed Bouchette: Yes. I don't think we'll get a steady diet of them but I do believe at some point we'll see that.
WhyHateSameer: I, like you, feel 7 rosters spots for D-lineman is sub-optimal. Is Orpheus Roye being stashed only in case of an injury? What will it take for him to be on the active roster?
Ed Bouchette: Probably an injury.
Jhaug_in_VT: Does the 6 DL rotation look to continue indefinitely, or is it just a hot weather strategy?
Ed Bouchette: Mike Tomlin said today it is his September strategy -- yes, hot weather, old players. Keep them fresh.
WhyHateSameer: Some fans are concerned that the present ownership uncertainty played a role in not extending players before the season, such as Marvel Smith, Kemoeatu, and McFadden. Do you think this played any role?
Ed Bouchette: I don't really think so, but I can't say for sure. What was their excuse when they did not extend the contract of Hardy Nickerson?
Tom_M.: I was surprised to see Anthony Smith inactive but Tyrone Carter in the game, is this an indication that Smith isn't as good as we thought and hoped he might be?
Ed Bouchette: I would think you're on to something.
SteelerBobby: Ed: If we win our 16th in a row in the State of Ohio and the clowns go 2.5 games behind us with only 2 games played so far, how long does Romeo make it thru the season?
Ed Bouchette: Is he the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys? I don't know the owner of the Browns well enough to guess if he'd can a coach in the middle of the season. I know the Rooneys would not do that.
Jon: New turf or grass look great. What was the opinion of the players after the game regarding that?
Ed Bouchette: It wasn't on top of my list of questions to ask. The grass always looks good early in September. Wait until after Thanksgiving, when the high schools get their teeth in the thing.
NHSTEEL: Ed, Loved your column that discussed the warped HOF process for passed over players. What is holding Dick LeBeau and LC Greenwood from taking their well deserved places in the Hall?
Ed Bouchette: Too many Steelers are in it, that's what's held LC back. I don't know why LeBeau hasn't received more consideration. I guess they're too busy helping the friends of Marshall Goldberg.
JMF213: What was your impression of the offensive line?
Ed Bouchette: I thought they played as good as any portion of the team.
Age_Vigoda: Did I see Nick Eason playing a lot more than usual? He seemed to be doing a nice job but for a bit I was concerned Smith got hurt.
Ed Bouchette: They used their backups in the defensive line a lot more, and Eason made a lot more plays.
Keep-Chopping-Woodley: Why so many empty-backfield sets? Isn't that too risky?
Ed Bouchette: Risky?
Google_Truth_Rising: How is the botched snap between Ben & Hartwig recorded in the stats?
Ed Bouchette: Ben gets a fumble and a fumble recovery.
HinesBored: Ed, I can't think of anything to complain about. But I am a Steeler fan. What's wrong with this picture?
Ed Bouchette: They ONLY beat the Texans. Everyone knew they'd beat up on the Texans. I did get this email from a fellow, though: They did not show enough killer instinct by letting Houston score twice in the fourth quarter.
Daquido_Bazzini: Any word on how Troy held up physically?
Ed Bouchette: He's not on the injury list this week
Valdecir: Cleveland has a pretty good offensive line. Will the Steelers be as effective in pressuring the Brown's quarterback?
Ed Bouchette: I don't know.
stlrfannaustin: What is the reason that San Diego is considered so much more talented that the Steelers? Is LT supposed to be that much better than Parker, or the O-line perception? I just don't see why everyone ranks them so much higher in talent.
Ed Bouchette: Who cares?
rbird: How did Polamalu look to you? Those first couple plays of the game he looked like a human missile out there.
Ed Bouchette: He also looked like he made his first tackle as a missile with his head. For a guy who had trouble with concussions in college, I would hope he does not tackle like that much any more.
midstater: Ed, was our offensive line that good or was the Texans d-line that bad?
Ed Bouchette: Good. Bad.
Browns_Killer: Ed, what was your overall grade for the play of the CBs?
Ed Bouchette: My pal Gerry Dulac gave the secondary as a whole a "B" in Monday's Post-Gazette.
LBsDominate: Did Ben have any tests (MRI, etc) on his shoulder, or is it just a soreness thing? Can everyone start to panic now?
Ed Bouchette: Sure, Panic is a Pittsburgh thing. They once thought of renaming Steelers Nation the Pittsburgh Panic.
skot: What was the Steelers' biggest weakness you saw based on last week's performance?
Ed Bouchette: ... Hold on, I'm thinking ...
Grif: Santonio Holmes was relatively quiet this game. Was that the result of extensive double-teaming or something else?
Ed Bouchette: I'm not sure, but I would not be overly concerned about it.
OldSchoolPatriotFan: Have you heard of any fines being dished out for the hit on Roethlisberger?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think it was a finable hit.
ToddinSyracuse: Is it conceivable that Starks will be traded during the year? He is unlikely to dress once the third TE picks up the offense.
Ed Bouchette: No one is going to pay him his guaranteed $7 million.
rbird: How bad was the offensive pass interference on Ward?
Ed Bouchette: I thought it should have been called on the DB.
simianslayer: How would you grade Timmons' performance, and how would you grade the offensive line?
Ed Bouchette: Good, both.
Tom_M.: Does the Brady injury make the Steelers the team to beat in the AFC? As unbiased as I can be, I think it does.
Ed Bouchette: I still think the Colts are the favorites and that's what I heard Vegas has. But the Steelers are among the stronger teams in the AFC, and they got a little stronger after the first weekend of games.
Browns_Killer: Edward The Great, what are the odds that the Steelers Management goes against their traditional rule of not negotiating contracts during the season to keep Marvel Smith and Chris K.?
Ed Bouchette: Zero.
midstater: Ed, love your work. Once again the major networks say very little about the Steelers impressive win against the Texans. Are the Steelers not as good as they looked on Sunday?
Ed Bouchette: You ARE as good as you look.
Yellow_stripe: Special teams coverage was a pleasant surprise. Was it more scheme or inserting starters like Clark and Harrison?
Ed Bouchette: Young guys like Madison and Woods.
ToddinSyracuse: Willie with 25 carries was a little worrisome. Will Tomlin run his wheels off again this year?
Ed Bouchette: I think you'll see them give Willie more rest as we go along and as they get more confidence in Rocket Rashard.
JPBubba: Will the Browns be a legitimate test for the Steelers defense?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I believe they will be. They have plenty of talent on offense.
midstater: Ed, you are so good, will we ever see you full time at ESPN?
Ed Bouchette: I'm fulltime at the Post-Gazette. The other stuff is desert.
heinzward: I liked that they got Heath involved early - your thoughts on how that opened things up?
Ed Bouchette: Heath Miller is an asset for the Steelers offense in many ways, and that's certainly one of them. You can't ignore that big tight end with the soft hands cruising across the middle.
OldSchoolPatriotFan: Leftwich was 0-4 passing. Does Dixon make more sense as the #2?
Ed Bouchette: No.
Grif: Looking ahead to the next four games: Browns, Eagles, Ravens, Jags. Which team or teams scare you the most?
Ed Bouchette: At Jax. Steelers always have trouble down there.
skot: Was Berger used on kick off at all, or was it all Reed?
Ed Bouchette: All jeff Reed.
mg: However tough the Steelers' schedule turns out to be, do you think the rest of the division is bad enough that it won't matter?
Ed Bouchette: Perhaps. That schedule, though, somehow seems less difficult today because of New England and San Diego, the two first-place teams in those divisions the Steelers play.
MAdesso: ED, are the Steelers the team to beat now in the AFC?
Ed Bouchette: They are for the Browns this week. I would say they are among the top 3-4 teams in the AFC.
Keep-Chopping-Woodley: Is Willie Parker now the goal-line back?
Ed Bouchette: Yes.
Browns_Killer: Ed, what are you power rankings by team for the AFC after Brady is now out for the year?
Ed Bouchette: 1. Indy. 2. Pittsburgh. 3. San Diego. 4. New England. 5. Buffalo.
DocHollidayLA: I really am happy to see Woods play well on Special Teams. How critical is this phase of the game going to be for the Brownie game?
Ed Bouchette: with Joshua Cribbs, very.
Indiana_Steeler_Fan: Ed, biggest area of concern about the Browns?
Ed Bouchette: Their explosive potential on offense.
OldSchoolPatriotFan: Is Tomlin a much better coach now that he has a year's experience under his belt?
Ed Bouchette: He should be, yes.
Google_Truth_Rising: Woodley... The NFL D Player of the week?
Ed Bouchette: Get out the vote.
simianslayer: Is Limas Sweed a disappointment to the coaches at this point, or have other WRs such as Dallas Baker jumped ahead of him because of good play?
Ed Bouchette: It's tough for rookie wide receivers to be successful and it seems it's that way for Limas.
Google_Truth_Rising: Do you think it was selfish of Tom Brady to get hurt, thus taking away from the Brett Favre coverage... during EVERY game?
Ed Bouchette: I thought it was brilliant on Brady's part.
Hrocks: Can we expect more Blitzburgh action this Sunday?
Ed Bouchette: Expect nothing but the best.
Vcoachband: Last night, Oakland did a direct snap to McFadden and he handed off to Fargas. Any chance the steelers use the same tactic with our dynamic duo?
Ed Bouchette: I wouldn't be copying anything the Raiders are doing at the moment.
OldSchoolPatriotFan: Do you have any opinion on how good Cassel is or just have not seen enough yet?
Ed Bouchette: If I had seen enough of him, I'd have had to watch him in high school. See Sunday's paper for my opinion on that, by the way. In the meantime, I'll say goodbye to this chat. Thanks again for some great questions sprinkled among the others. ed