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Hot Scraps from The Still Mill, Oct. 28th

October 27, 1999 by Still Mill

Steelers Notebook: Rookie tight end lost for season

Tuman, our "#1 Receiving TE", Out for Season; Cowher/Stewart Late Game Shenanigans

Rookie tight end Jerame Tuman tore his ACL against the Falcs and is out for the season.

Some fans may have missed this, but Tuman was to supplant Mitch Lyons --- not Mark Bruener --- as the team's "receiving tight end". Lyons had essentially displaced Bruener a couple weeks ago as the team's primary "receiving TE", and caught 2 passes at Buffalo. But Tuman had apparently emerged enough that he assumed this "role" -- albeit a role as vital as being the grass cutter at 3 Rivers Stadium.

We should look back to this past spring, and wonder WHY Tom Donahoe so eagerly signed Bruener to the fatty contract. This is a stonefooted TE who had a season-ending knee injury at Miami in 1996, and caught a whopping 19 passes last year. The interest from the rest of the NFL in signing Bruener barely exceeded that of a nunnery paying to see a Metallica concert. We're paying $3 million a year for Bruener, who -- get this -- was ultimately supplanted as our "receiving TE" by a rookie 5th round pick who had exactly zero NFL receptions. That's a pretty sad situation. If being only "such a good blocker", which is Bruener's claim to fame, is what we so urgently need at TE, we could insert Chris Conrad or Jim Sweeney at TE and use the freed up cap money to address other needs. It's painfully clear that Bruener --- like the equally bootfooted Witman -- is a colossal waste of cap money and a poor value.

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Then there's the late-game charades by Marty Jr. --- aka Bill Cowher�

We all found out that Cowher ordered Stewart to not throw the ball under any circumstances on the 3d & 3 rollout on the Stillers final offensive possession. As we saw, FB Jon Witman was WIDE open, but Stewart kept for 1 yard, and we punted rather than salting the game away.

First, it's a pretty sad indictment of Stewart's INEPTITUDE that he cannot be trusted to throw when the intended receiver is OPEN, late in the game. This is not some wide-eyed 21-year old rookie. Stewart is in his fifth NFL season, and was signed to an outrageous contract extension this past spring. If he cannot be trusted to have the option of throwing a 5-yard lob to a wide open FB late in the game, then he has no business starting for a team with playoff aspirations. (Of course, we have NO backup QB, but that's another story.)

This "strategy" is also an indictment of what a COWARD Marty Jr. has become. Field Goal Bill "got scared" last year (his words, not mine) late in the Detroit game, and ordered the offense to play turtle and kick the FG, rather than throwing into the EZ against the 19th ranked defense in the NFL. We went on to lose in OT.

Clearly, Cowher is MORE AND MORE resembling his hero, Marty Shottenheimer. Our offense is a sickening discombobulation of 2-yard throws to the FB & TE, and 7-yard hitches to our receivers. Marty Jr. is playing NOT TO LOSE, rather than playing TO WIN. This goatrope at the end of the Falcon game epitomizes this. The playcall itself was sound, but to forbid your QB from throwing the ball to a wide open man is simply ludicrous.

The Still Mill

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