Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lots of Story Lines Today

The big news in Steeler Nation this week is the placement of linebacker LaMarr Woodley on injured reserve, ending his season and possibly his career in Pittsburgh. Jarvis Jones will start, and it is unclear who will be the top back-up. Maybe veteran Chris Carter, but Terance Garvin may see some snaps although he is listed on the depth chart as an inside linebacker.

Whether Woodley remains a Steeler after this season became a topic of some increasingly robust discussion over the past couple weeks. Over the past few days, especially, speculation grew that Woodley could be gone after this season. The Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac indicates that is a pretty much a foregone conclusion. That's a question that will sort itself out after the season.

Meanwhile, in Packer Land ...
In Wisconsin, there is considerable angst over the status of quarterback Aaron Rodgers' medical clearance for a possible return to action after being out for the past six weeks with a broken collarbone. Rodgers is one of the best in the game, but if he's not medically cleared to play, he won't play. Simple as that.

Back-up Matt Flynn, who was on the street as a waived player just a few weeks ago, has led the Packers the two straight wins following four losses and a tie by Green Bay in its previous five games. Last Sunday in Dallas, the Packers scored 34 points in the second half to rally from a 23-point halftime deficit to defeat the Cowboys and place themselves right in the thick of the NFC North playoff race.

It was a rousing win, and the Packers hope to ride that momentum this week. If they win their final two games (Steelers and Bears), they'll make the playoffs.

Bell and Lacy
A story line this week will be the respective performances of running backs Le'Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy. The Steelers drafted Bell (Michigan State) 48th overall in the second round instead of Lacy (Alabama), who went to the Packers 61st overall in the second round.

After battling early-season injuries, Bell has looked solid for the Steelers.

  • Bell has 43 catches for 388 yards and 646 yards rushing on 96 carries. 
  • Lacy has 31 catches for 236 yards and 1,028 yards rushing on 248 carries and is in a leading candidate for offensive rookie of the year. He had 141 yards rushing last Sunday vs. the Cowboys. 

At yesterday's news conference, Mike Tomlin said the decision to draft Bell over Lacy was "an easy one for me."  

It's very early in their respective careers, and way too early for second-guessing. Joey Porter's Pit Bulls like Bell a lot and wanted the Steelers to draft him -- but we also were surprised the Steelers took him in the second round. He'd been projected to go later (third or even fourth round), so selecting him in the second round seemed a bit of an over-reach. They believe in him, though, and we'd love to see him succeed. Both he and Lacy appear to be good players.

Who's better? Just enjoy the show on Sunday.

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