Ed Bouchette: Hello. Mike Tomlin just gave perhaps his most boring Tuesday press conference. I need some inspiration here. Let's start.
Freehold_Willie: Good Afternoon Ed! If you were Ryan Clark, would you play? Medical clearance or not?
Ed Bouchette: No. I would not make the trip either, something Clark said he will do even if he's not going to play. Stay home, watch it on your big screen, hug the kids and get ready for the Bengals.
Freehold_Willie: Should the Steelers kick away from Eddie Royal?
Ed Bouchette: They should have kicked away the previous two weeks. You cannot play scared, but sometimes you have to play smart. If you can minimize his returns, but I'm also not for giving Denver's offense an automatic set up at their 40 either.
James_Taiwan: Who do you think will be in the driver's seat of the AFC North after the next three weeks?
Ed Bouchette: I don't know if there will be a "driver's seat" because I expect the Steelers and Ravens to be in this thing to the bitter end, or at least that next-to-last game Dec. 27.
AugiefromNY: Hi, with all this talk about the thin air in Denver, does the ball carry differently there? Will Ben be able to practice with his receivers in Denver before the game?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, the ball does carry a little differently, although I do not think it matters much in the passing game as it does the kicking game. The Steelers warm up before the game and Ben does throw some passes to his receivers, but it's not much.
Sean_Coffee: Hi Ed. It's well-established that Cleveland wants Bill Cowher on the sideline next year. You know the man as well as any reporter: Would he really take a job with a franchise that is so far away from being competitive, let alone winning?
Ed Bouchette: It would depend on what they're willing to do for Bill, from money to control. They let Mangini hire his own GM and then fired him halfway through the season. That place is a mess and seems like it has no direction and no patience. I don't think Bill is going there but I would not rule it out under the right circumstances.
polamalu43: Ed, is Troy Polamalu practicing or is Tomlin giving him more rest?
Ed Bouchette: Troy is getting a chance for his knee to heal. This is a long week of practices, 2 more than normal. He did not practice Monday and it will be no big deal if he does not on Wednesday when the players return after their day off.
polamalu43: Ed, last week on First Take show, Keenan Lewis said he isn't playing because he is hurt, is he hurt or not playing because of bad special teams play?
Ed Bouchette: that sounds like an excuse. He has been practicing. I watched him pick off a pass on Tuesday and he looked good doing it.
Wilmington__NC: Your predictions have been on the money so far. Do the Steelers beat the Bronco's Monday night?
Ed Bouchette: They were on the money right up until I picked them to lose to the Vikings. I was 6-0 until then on my preseason picks made on PG Plus. In those picks, I have them winning at Denver so I will stick with that.
Steelers_Fan_Stuck_In_Ohio: Have the Steelers complained to the league for scheduling a Monday night game in the West following a bye week instead having the bye week after such a game? This is not the first time the Steelers have had to deal with this.
Ed Bouchette: Complaining does no good.
50_JohnReger: Hi Ed, If Lawrence Timmons misses the Broncos game, Keyaron Fox is the starter. Who would be the back-up inside linebacker if Fox or James Farrior goes down?
Ed Bouchette: Arnold Harrison. Andre Frazier also could play there in a pinch.
yelloboo: Ed, What player in your mind has stepped up the most during this four game win streak?
Ed Bouchette: Besides the QB? I don't know about most because there have been more than one, such as Mendenhall, Starks, Harrison, Farrior, Ward, Miller.
Brain_Guy: With the Bengals, Ravens, and Steelers all winning against the tough teams and losing against cream puffs, will the real AFC North contender please stand up!
Ed Bouchette: So you're inferring on one hand that the Bengals are contenders in the division and on the other that they are cream puffs because the Steelers lost to them? Also, I would not put the Bears in that category either.
Park_Parker: Ed, who wins the Bengals and Ravens game?
Ed Bouchette: I have a hard time believing the Bengals are for real and a hard time believing the Ravens are not. I'm going with the Ravens, just as I did Sunday vs. the Broncos.
Brain_Guy: Have the Steelers prepared any differently this week for Denver and the mile-high altitude change?
Ed Bouchette: They're practicing on top of a hill in Pittsburgh.
Brain_Guy: Ed, would YOU risk organ failure to meet your professional duties to meet us all here for this chat?
Ed Bouchette: I risk it every Tuesday.
Brain_Guy: Did anyone else see Ziggy run the length of the field during the Fox interception? With a motor like that, don't you think LeBeau should play him more?
Ed Bouchette: Football is more than motors. I'm not saying Ziggy does not have the other components but I'm sure one sprint down the field does not convince LeBeau/Tomlin to give Ziggy more snaps on defense.
bdenny29: Will Ben dust off the gunslinger pistol TD celebration from the '05 Title game after his first score on Monday? It was equal parts lame and magnificent.
Ed Bouchette: I think he has matured since then so, no.
steelfool: Everyone knows about the "Tom Brady" rule. But is there a "James Harrison" rule? Is he unique in how many holding calls are not called when he's held, or am I just another biased Steeler fan?
Ed Bouchette: Oh, I would never think anyone on this chat is a biased Steelers fan. I do believe OTs get away holding/clothes-lining Harrison more than they should.
Brain_Guy: Is Kyle Orton the real deal, or is he just the product of a weak schedule (minus the Raven blowout)?
Ed Bouchette: I think he's the product of patience and a better system in Denver. He showed some real flashes/streaks in Chicago so maybe he's grown into the job. Or, maybe, Monday night he will turn into the Bad Kyle.
Ed_Bouchat: Fabulous Ed, you mentioned in passing on PG+ that the Steelers believe Hood is going to be a good player but want to bring him along slowly. Do you believe he will develop into the type of run-stopper that the Steelers 3-4 is used to at DE or will he make up for what he lacks there with a better pass rush than we are accustomed to see from that spot?
Ed Bouchette: They want him to get stronger and a little stouter and that could cut down on his quickness or, as Aaron Smith did, get bigger and stronger and keep that quickness. That is what has made Smith so special among other things. You won't see much of a pass rush from a 3-4 defensive end. Aaron Smith did that as well as any with all the pressures/hurries he had.
Wilmington__NC: What is the status on Travis Kirschke? If he is a no-go will this be Ziggy's coming out party?
Ed Bouchette: Kirschke was listed as questionable unofficially by mike Tomlin today. Nick Eason will start if he cannot go.
theWellHungarian: Am I the only one who thinks this Broncos team is all 'smoke n mirrors' I know Coach Tomlin & the players have to say the politically correct thing but c'mon, they stink ... Kyle Orton isn't John Elway or even Jake Plummer for that matter. They needed a lucky play to beat Cincinnati, Cleveland and Oakland are both laughers, San Diego & Dallas stink, and they got lucky against the Pats.
Ed Bouchette: You mean the way the Steelers got "lucky" against the Titans, Browns, Vikings and Lions?
BlacknGoldinBrooklyn: Will we see the Santonio Holmes having the production of week one or last year's Super Bowl anytime soon?
Ed Bouchette: That's hard to figure. He seems to go in bursts and some early drops may have prompted the QB to look the other way.
Soldier_In_Bouchette_s_Battalion: If Ryan can't play does Polamalu play it safe and stay deep or will it be Troy being Troy, ie flying all over the field?
Ed Bouchette: I would think you'd want him to be even MORE active.
Ed_Bouchat: Fabulous Ed, I know you have discussed the potential merits of looking at other options for returning punts, but the most obvious choice seems to be the proven commodity of Santonio Holmes. He's a playmaker, and unlike his rookie year when Cowher wanted to allow him to focus on his offensive assignments, it seems that we should now be looking to this opportunity to put the ball in his hands. Has Tomlin addressed or considered this?
Ed Bouchette: I do not think Holmes is an option on punt returns.
Overrated_Broncos: Did the Ravens expose the Broncos as frauds last week?
Ed Bouchette: I don't know about frauds but they certainly found some weaknesses. However, in this league these days, who knows? One week the Eagles get blown out by the Raiders and another they blow out the Giants.
Soldier_In_Bouchette_s_Battalion: Who has the better D overall this year, Steelers or Broncos?
Ed Bouchette: I'd say Steelers but I really have not seen much of the Broncos.
Skinley: Ed, I noticed there were no questions at the Tomlin presser regarding RB. Is it still Mendenhall's job?
Ed Bouchette: I think we've gone beyond that now and it has become obvious that, yes, Mendenhall has taken over as the regular with Parker the supplemental back.
theWellHungarian: How about a little Wildcat with Stephen Logan? Also, why don't the Steelers run the Wildcat, it seems like they have the necessary talent & speed? Are they waiting for 2010 so they can draft Tim Tebow and use it then?
Ed Bouchette: I think it's a gimmick and they do not seem to be into too many gimmicks.
menofpaws: Ah, so you found out that Santonio has the Sickle Cell trait ... you doubted us last week. Can you now ask him why he carries the ball like a loaf of bread when he is running in traffic?
Ed Bouchette: I never doubt anything I see here.
Skinley: Denver's RT is out, is this Woodley's chance to make some "splash" plays?
Ed Bouchette: Yet another one, yes.
fastwillie: Ed, Your thoughts on the O-line after their performance against the Vikings, especially Max Starts shutting down Jared Allen. In my opinion, this is the best they have looked in the last few years.
Ed Bouchette: I gave Max Starks my most underrated player of the first half of the season when I gave out the awards today on PG Plus. The entire line has improved since last season and that should bode well for the second half of the season.
Doc_Holliday: What kind of minutes should we expect Ryan Mundy to get?
Ed Bouchette: Anytime Minutes? I'm not sure. I think Tyrone Carter will start and Mundy will be at the ready if he falters.
dirty_Hines: Will Hoke take snaps at left DE? Did he last week?
Ed Bouchette: No, he did not. Anything goes in Denver because they will have to sub frequently in the high altitude. They particularly like to do this in the d-line and if Kirschke cannot go, they would be down to Sunny Harris as their No. 2 DE sub.
Mwarren18: Ed, is it like christmas for you every Tuesday at 1:29 or is it like getting ready to go into the dentist office?
Ed Bouchette: It's like paying for the Christmas bills.
Doc_Holliday: What kind of spread formations and offense did the Ravens run? No back in the back field?
Ed Bouchette: Would you believe I did not watch that game? I took the Troy Polamalu approach and did something different on Sunday. No football.
Doc_Holliday: Who is Dumerville matched-up against this week? And does he have the foot work and technique to keep up? Is this a different challenge than Jared Allen?
Ed Bouchette: He's a short guy, like James Harrison, and will provide 6-8 Max Starks with that kind of interesting matchup.
Amos_P_Swanson: Anything in particular that made Tomlin's PC more boring than others?
Ed Bouchette: No, just that he talked to us on Monday about Ryan Clark and said the same things today that he did Monday. And nothing else really came out of it.
rbird: Ed, anything new with the 4th receiver situation? Will they keep alternating throughout the season?
Ed Bouchette: They have not alternated lately, Sweed has been down and McDonald No. 4 thepast two games and 3 out of the past 4.
rbird: Ed, wouldn't you love to see the Steelers face off against the Saints? A battle-tested defense against that blazing fast offense.
Ed Bouchette: I'm sure every Steelers and Saint fan would love that because it would have to come in the Super Bowl.
bdenny29: A quick one before you go: Monday predicition?
Ed Bouchette: I've got the Steelers. I don't have a score.
rbird: It's amazing how quickly things settle down. I haven't seen one post about J. Reed or M. Spaeth. oops.
Ed Bouchette: There, you had to go and spoil it. And I said I would not quit chatting here today unless there was a mention of Jeff Reed/Matt Spaeth. We will not have this chat next Tuesday because I will be flying back from Denver. See you in two weeks. Oh, and don't forget: Gerry Dulac's chat is at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday on PG Plus.