Steelers Notebook: OLB Gibson is likely to be lost on waivers
Ike Taylor intercepts a pass in the first half against the Saints Sunday at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
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NEW ORLEANS -- The Steelers likely sacrificed their fourth-round draft choice on the altar of having defensive end Aaron Smith back -- maybe, possibly --for the playoffs.
Linebacker Thaddeus Gibson, who was placed on waivers Saturday so the Steelers could add defensive lineman Steve McLendon to the roster for a third game this season, likely will be claimed by another team off waivers today. It is expected that, at the very least, Buffalo will put in a claim for him; Doug Whaley, the former Steelers pro personnel coordinator, is Buffalo's assistant general manager.
Smith had surgery Monday to repair a torn triceps tendon in his left arm, and the Steelers hope he might be able to play by the end of the season or in the postseason.
They knew when they placed Gibson on waivers that a team likely would claim him and there would be little chance to sneak him through and onto the practice squad. They had other choices but chose this route.
"Linebacker is our deepest position," said coach Mike Tomlin on the team's website, "and [Gibson] is the low man on the totem pole, so we had to make that necessary move. We were thin at defensive line. It's just one of the casualties of this profession. It's very much a reality, and that's why we don't take what we're doing here for granted and we acknowledge that it's precious."
Tomlin continued to take a strong stance against what he termed the NFL's overreaction to some hits two weeks ago. Here are some things he said on Football Night in America on NBC Sunday night, as provided by the network:
On last week's play where it appeared James Harrison changed his style of play and pulled up on Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown: "In that particular instance, they were painting a picture that they wanted to see. The way I viewed that play was that Ronnie Brown caught the ball clean and ducked out like a savvy veteran football player. He's the person that eliminated the contact as opposed to James pulling off. I took exception to using James in that way."
On the NFL deciding to enforce greater discipline midseason: "When you start looking at things that you discussed in the offseason and adjusting during the season, you're doing it from an emotional standpoint. Usually emotional decisions aren't good ones. It was an overreaction to a couple of unfortunate incidents that occurred a few weeks ago."
Tomlin on changes in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: "As a player, I think he's enjoying the monotony more. That's natural. That's human nature. When something is taken away from you, you have a greater appreciation for it once you have an opportunity to get it back. As a person, more than anything, it's about taking an accounting of where he is and what's important to him. A lot of times in life, we all get off the mark a little bit especially when you experience the kind of success that he has. It can be trap door, if you will. He's really assessing and evaluating, not only what's important to him, but who he surrounds himself with and how he conducts himself."
Tomlin on Super Bowl hangovers: "I don't know why people are surprised by that. It's tough to walk the journey and win it one time let alone two times back-to-back. Your offseason is shorter. There's more obligations in that offseason that happens to be shorter. There's a lot of things that can get you off track when you are defending Super Bowl champs."
New Orleans was without its two starting cornerbacks and top two running backs Sunday night as corners Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter were scratched along with running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.
Rookie Patrick Robinson, the Saints' first-round draft pick, made his fourth start at left cornerback for Greer, and Leigh Torrence started for Porter. Undrafted rookie Chris Ivory, the Saints' leading rusher, started at halfback.
The rest of the Saints' inactive players were offensive tackle Charles Brown, tight end Tory Humphrey and defensive end Junior Galette.
The Steelers' inactives were Smith, No. 3 quarterback Charlie Batch, running back Jonathan Dwyer, cornerback Crezdon Butler, offensive tackle Tony Hills, offensive guard Ramon Foster, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and defensive end Brett Keisel.
This is the first of three consecutive primetime games for the Steelers.
They play in Cincinnati against the Bengals next Monday night and return home for a Sunday night game against the New England Patriots Nov. 14. The Steelers have won five consecutive games and are 38-22 lifetime on Monday Night Football.
The Bengals and Patriots -- division winners last season -- are headed in opposite directions.
The Bengals have lost four games in a row after their 22-14 defeat Sunday against Miami, and the Patriots have won five games in a row after their 28-18 victory against Minnesota.
After missing the past four games with an ankle injury, offensive guard Trai Essex returned to the starting lineup against the Saints.
Essex had been replaced in the starting lineup by Doug Legursky, who struggled at times last Sunday against Miami.
Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, in competition each week with fellow rookie Antonio Brown for what Tomlin likes to call "a hat" and a spot in the lineup, continued to shine as a return man against the Saints. His 38-yard punt return late in the first quarter Sunday night set up a Jeff Reed field goal, the only Steelers points in the first half. Against Miami a week earlier, Sanders fumbled the opening kickoff but then had returns of 37, 27 and 48 yards. That last return set up Reed's winning field goal in the Steelers' 23-22 win.
The Steelers came into the game searching for their first 100-plus-yard rushing performance in more than a month. Rashard Mendenhall hadn't hit the century mark since his 143-yard afternoon Sept. 26 at Tampa.
On New Orleans' first possession, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau employed a little-used alignment completely devoid of defensive linemen in a three-point stance. Ziggy Hood, making his first NFL start at defensive end, stood upright in between an offensive guard and center.
Even more unusual, LeBeau called that defense on first-and-10.
First Published November 1, 2010 12:41 am