8:07 p.m.: Meanwhile, back at the ranch. . . .
One-hundred ninety-three days later -- and, man, did those pass quickly -- the Super Bowl Polamalu finalists returned to kick-start their 2009 preseasons. A touchback, a nowhere run from a one-back, and the defending champYinz weren't exactly off to a repeat start.
But, then, who in Hades remembers the first coupla plays from preseason scrimmage?
If you do, report directly to your nearest emergency room. You got problems.
8:14 p.m.: What, no comments about Jon Gruden yet? C'mon, you've given the onetime Paul Hackett assistant at Pitt almost a full quarter of time on TV. You got to have an opinion of the new guy on Monday Night Football by now.
8:15 p.m.: Most of the crowd -- almost half of it seems to still be trickling in, due to Steelers-Bill Clinton-casino(?) traffic -- stood and roared at a Steelers punt not performed by the 29-yard-artist formerly known as Mitch Berger.
I think it was Bobby Walden.
No, it was surgically repaired Daniel Sepulveda. Nice punt, too. You missed him, didn't you?
8:24 p.m.: By the way, Travis Kirschke started for defensive end Brett Keisel, who was rested due to a calf injury.
8:38 p.m.: This just in: Michael Vick signs with Pennsylvania team. . . the Eagles, that is. Two-year deal, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who is still gathering details. Wait, they just signed Adam DiMichele of Sto-Rox -- they didn't need another quarterback.
And how close were the Steelers to signing Vick? About 305 miles.
Charity was always a Rooney cause, not social work.
8:46 p.m.: Charlie Batch warming in the bullpen; an early night for the starters, and would you really want to expose Ben Roethlisberger like that behind a third-team, practice-squad center? Arizona's Anquan Boldin and Hines Ward were chatting on the field during the long and incorrectly announced review -- see, even the officials need preseason games to get into form.
8:52 p.m.: Limas, sweet. It's wayyyyyyyyyyyyy early, but he already -- and throw in even the AFC championship game, when he got wide open (that catching part must come later) -- is starting to look like a nice No. 3 receiver. No. 4, at worst. Nate Washington? Please pick up a white courtesy phone. . . .
8:58 p.m.: It's wayyyyyy early, and the weather is perfect for kicking, but Mike Tomlin lets Jeff Reed regularly attempt 50-yarders in camp. And he just hit that one a good 58, maybe longer. So you might see him try a few more of those long suckers in dry weather.
Oh, and beyond how Lawrence Timmons or Troy Polamalu -- who has hardly practiced in a week on that hamstring -- are performing in less-than-a-dress rehearsal, watch guys like Ziggy Hood, now on the defensive line, or Rashard Mendenhall (behind a patchwork, early line), or William Gay, or. . . more names to come. Preseason provides a gilmpse of new guys, or rising players.
9:14 p.m.: Dennis Dixon in for Batch. Why not: Dixon can run the 2-minute drill, with 62 seconds left in the first half. And you can protect Batch's collarbone -- you know what he can do.
9:21 p.m.: Anthony Madison sure is talented -- he can make an interception AND get called for interference at the same time. Neil Rackers' 29-yard field goal with :00 on the clock ties it at halftime, 3-3. Not that it matters.
9:22 p.m.: From Bruce Springsteen to this. . . . dogs catching frisbees. John Steigerwald for years growled that this should be the standard halftime show.
And, to think, we already mentioned Mike Vick in this blog.
9:28 p.m.: Many pardons, this blog inadvertently left out Keith Urban playing the Mellon Arena in that 8:15 p.m. item about Dahntahn traffic.
9:40 p.m.: As a press-box wag pointed out, former coach Bill Cowher would've termed Joe Burnett's fumble after a 10-yard punt return "an auspicious debut." Especially considering that he meant "inauspicious," but from such verbiage he just couldn't be de-teered.
9:51 p.m.: Piotr Czech just missed a 36-yard field goal try, pushing it a tad left. But don't start those Bounced Czech puns. Every team needs an extra leg around to rest the incumbent, such as Reed.
10:10 p.m.: To answer a Comments question: No, there is no rent-a-leg punter in camp to help out Daniel Sepulveda. Maybe Mike Tomlin will give him a week off after this game. Five punts already for nearly a 50-yard average. Impressive.
Now, some early comments from the Steelers sidelines. . . . Ben Roethlisberger: "Overall, without look at film, I think [the offense] was OK. I think we had a couple of plays with few breakdowns, but it just felt good to go against someone other than your own guys." Hines Ward: "We played more, the first group, than we wanted to. We made some great plays and moved the ball out there." Max Starks about the talked-about offensive line: "Everybody is on the same page. Everybody was talking, that was very important to establish that early so there is no miscommunication, a guy coming free." Aaron Smith: "They moved the ball a little bit on us, but they didn't score, and I think we played all right. It's the first preseason game, and you're going to have mistakes here and there, guys being a little rough." LaMarr Woodley: "I think we did all right. It felt like we were on the field too long."
10:18 p.m.: Burnett acquitted himself nicely on that 42-yard interception return, huh? He resembled a fellow who knows what to do with the ball in his hands. That set up free-agent (yay, Bowie State!) Isaac Redman, who ran through one potential tackler and brushed off the arms of another in completing the final 3 yards in a touchdown rumble around right end. If this night illustrated nothing else, right there were a couple of new folks to watch this preseason, along with Mike Wallace.
10:34 p.m.: Yes, Redman is looking pretty good right now, running through people, rushing for a game-high 33 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns. Remember, though, he's playing against the bottom of the Cardinals' depth chart, as well. Besides, who does Bowie State play? Rod Stewart U.? Jagger A&M? Springsteen Tech? (I know, Virginia Union and Virginia State and Pennsylvania's own Lincoln are on the Bulldogs' schedule, among others.)
10:38 p.m.: Tyler Palko of Pitt and West Allegheny made quite a quick and successful Arizona debut. As another wag noted, he should be well familiar with the small size of the crowd left. And no wonder something like 1/4 of the Cardinals roster has Western Pennsylvania ties, befitting the Pittsburgh West flavor starting from the head coach down. Palko converted all five of his pass attempts, including the touchdown to cap his five-play, 59-yard, 1:59 drive.
10:53 p.m.: Czech, please. This one's over, 20-10 Steelers, on his field goal with 1:41 still to play. Didn't have that buzz of the last time they met, huh?