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What's the rush?

October 13, 2008 - Buck Frank

  Don't believe sports media people who say they don't like to gloat when they're right about a prediction. It's only human nature -- by the way, my upset special this week was the Jaguars over the Broncos. (Notice, I didn't mention that I picked the Jags over the Steelers the previous week).

Some media people are better than others at resisting the temptation to gloat. I listened to ESPN Radio for just a few minutes today and heard Colin Cowherd saying he picked the Cardinals over the Cowboys and Jason Whitlock yelling, "I told you so,' about something else.

I usually resist the temptation because I know in this business you're wrong many times, too. But, now, I'll give in and go back to two years ago when the Steelers were getting ready to play the Oakland Raiders and Ben Roethlisberger was coming off a concussion suffered the previous week. I'll relate that to this week's game against the Bengals, but first, here's a column I wrote three days before that Steelers-Raiders game.

The following article appeared in the Mirror on Oct. 26, 2006:

One week off won't hurt Big Ben

By Buck Frank
    What's the big rush? Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger participated in practice Wednesday, three days after suffering his second concussion in four months, and all indications are he'll start Sunday in Oakland.
    If Roethlisberger has been cleared by the medical staff, that's great news. But why not give the kid, who's been through so much lately, an extra week to recover?
    Backup Charlie Batch is no Roethlisberger, but he's given no indication in his two chances this season to suggest he wouldn't be able to get the job done Sunday. If Roethlisberger is OK, activate him as the No. 2 quarterback to be only used in an emergency.
    Oakland did win its first game this past week, and no NFL team can be taken lightly. But this would be a great spot to rest Roethlisberger before a game against Denver the following week. Oakland has also been known through the years to produce many over-aggressive penalties, and another helmet-to-helmet hit on Big Ben this week could be severe.
    The Steelers appeared to rush Roethlisberger back after his emergency appendectomy, and he seemed to wear down in the second half against Jacksonville.
    Another rush job this week could prove to be far more critical as the season unfolds.

Roethlisberger started against the Raiders that Sunday and stunk up the joint, single-handedly losing the game for the Steelers with many critical interceptions while their defense dominated. They lost again the following week to Denver, fell to 2-6 and were pretty much finished for the season. They ended up 8-8 and out of the playoffs.

Later, then offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt admitted the Steelers should have rested Roethlisberger against the Raiders.

I bring this up because the Steelers are expected to have at least two players, running back Willie Parker and defensive end Brett Keisel, available to play against the Bengals this Sunday after both sitting out multiple games with injuries. Again, I ask, what's the rush?

The Steelers have been fine on the defensive line without Keisel, and Mewelde Moore showed he at least could be given another start at running back. Plus, the Steelers are playing the Bengals -- the 0-6 Bungles -- and have a two-game lead in their division. Even without Parker and Keisel, they have more talent than the Bengals.

Another week off for both Parker and Keisel could not only help in securing a full recovery, but it could also help keep them -- especially Parker -- extra fresh for later in the year.

At the very least, they could activate them and use only if necessary.

Those are just my thoughts ... did I mention I picked the Jaguars over the Broncos?

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