Random Rants by PalmerSucks
March 6, 2009
What's that, T.O.'s been cut in Dallas? Ray Lewis is crawling back to Baltimore, acting like he actually WANTS to be there?
And what's this? Kurt Warner swears he was being honest with the 49ers when he visited them in 'Frisco, and remember, Kurt Warner NEVER swears! Oh, what a fun-filled offseason it's been already.
Then there's Pittsburgh, where things are so boring, the P-G felt the need to run this little item:
Free-agent period rather quiet on the South Side
Thursday, March 05, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Shhhhhh, or you will wake the Steelers.
Another day, more silence from the South Side. No free agents visited their UPMC training complex and none is expected the rest of the week. On the other hand, none of their free agents signed elsewhere since Nate Washington fled to Tennessee on Monday.
The article continues on pretty much like this, blah blah quiet blah blah nothing going on blah blah blah. Until that is, we come to this little item, buried in the next to the last paragraph.
"The Steelers apparently did sign one player, a wide receiver. Although the team did not confirm it, there are reports that practice squad player Martin Nance has been added to their offseason roster."
Who said there's nothing big happening in the 'Burgh? The Stillers just promoted Martin Nance from the practice team to the real one!
So what, you say? Well, play a little game of connect-the-dots with me.
In its post-Super Bowl issue, Sports Illustrated ran a picture of Ben Roethlisberger sitting up in his agent's hotel room the day before the game. With him was one other player: not Hines Ward, not Willie Parker, not even one of Ben's linemen he's supposedly such buddies with. No, the player Ben chose to hang out the day before the big game was... yep, Martin Nance.
That's THE Martin Nance, late of the Miami-of-Ohio Redhawks, otherwise known as "Roethlisberger U." And remember, he wasn�t even on the active roster at the time.
Having watched a lot of MAC football, I can tell you that Ben and Nance once formed the most dangerous QB-WR duo the conference ever knew (except maybe for Pennington and Moss). Once upon a time, in one season, the two connected for 90 receptions, 1,498 yards and 11 touchdowns. That's one season, one receiver.
The next year, Nance's junior season, he started out even hotter, notching 337 yards in four games. Then came his fifth game, which was to be his last -- a knee injury ended everything.
Nance bounced back the next year, but didn't have a great combine after entering the draft: he barely broke a 4.6 forty, and didn't exactly wow the scouts. He ended up in Buffalo, then Minnesota -- then, no doubt at the urging of Roethlisberger, was picked up by the Stillers.
The Vikings� loss may be the Stillers� big gainer. If not for the knee injury, I believe Nance could've been a late-first or early-second-round pick. Thanks to fate, the Stillers got him for nothing. If he shows that the blown knee's behind him, he's a bigger steal than the six packs they used to sell at the 99-cent store.
I judge a smaller-conference player by how he performs against the bigger schools, and Nance had two of his best-ever efforts against the bigger boys:
--Against Northwestern he turned 4 catches into 126 yards and two TDs in a 44-14 destruction of the Big 10 Wildcats.
--Nance outdid that effort with 169 yards against Louisville in the GMAC Bowl, getting named the MVP.
Nance was the Monster of the Mid-American Conference in 2003, leading it in receiving and placing 4th in the entire country in yards per game. His future once seemed almost as bright as his star QB�s.
Now, why do I bring this up? With Nate Washington gone, the assumption is that Limas Sweed will be handed the #3 WR spot. That assumption may be a bit premature.
At 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, Nance has the same killer size as Sweed. Like Sweed, he can move once he gets the ball. Get a highlight tape and you'll see a long-stride glide that's made for YAC.
Unlike Sweed, Nance has yet to drop a pass as a Stiller.
Sweed may be the higher pick, but that won�t stop him from being pushed by Nance, who may turn out to be the surprise of '09. As the Minnesota coaches noted, Nance had really improved his grasp of the game by the time he was released. If Sweed continues to butterfinger his way through practice, he may not like what he sees on the depth chart.
In any event, it should be a fun competition to watch this summer.
Watch out for Martin Nance.
Until next time, this is PalmerSucks. And this is what I say.
(The views of PalmerSucks are not necessarily those of Stillers.com -- but should be.)