Feb 9, 2011
Three days after the Packers won the Super Bowl, it is starting to set in that the long football off-season is here. Still, there is news to cover unrelated to the labor issue, so we will dive into that as we still are dealing with the aftermath of the season, particularly in Pittsburgh.
Ward, Sanders need surgery … Not only did the Steelers lose to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV, but veteran WR Hines Ward will undergo two surgeries this week, and rookie Emmanuel Sanders will also need surgery. Ward has cartilage damage in his left knee that he’s been dealing with since camp, and he also has a torn ligament in his left thumb that dates back to September. He wore a cast on the thumb all season. Meanwhile, Sanders broke his foot during the Super Bowl and will need that to be repaired. Ward saw a decline in his numbers this season, with the injuries complicating things, but he has said he plans to return in 2011 to a receiving corps that now revolves around the speedy Mike Wallace as its #1 option. Wallace had 60/1257/10 and Ward had 59/755/5, while Sanders started to emerge as a threat out of the slot late in the season with 28/376/2.
Court won’t block Williams Wall suspensions … Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams still could face suspensions stemming from a July 2008 positive test for bumetanide, “a powerful diuretic that was an unlisted ingredient in the over-the-counter weight-loss supplement StarCaps.” The star tackles filed a lawsuit after the positive tests were announced, saying they weren’t notified quickly enough, but the Minnesota Court of Appeals declined to block the suspensions because the diuretic doesn’t fall under state laws. They still could appeal to a higher court. Last season was likely the last we’ll see of the Williams Wall, as the 38-year-old Pat Williams is a free agent and is likely headed elsewhere.
Heimerdinger let go by Titans … Despite the promotion of OL coach Mike Munchak to head coach in Tennessee, the coaching staff will have more new looks next season, as Munchak opted to replace OC Mike Heimerdinger, along with offensive assistant Richie Wessman and defensive assistant Rayna Stewart. Munchak said the health of Heimerdinger, who was diagnosed with cancer in November but kept coaching, did not play a part in the decision. Heimerdinger was in charge of the offense for the last three years and from 2000-04. The offense finished 21st in total yards in 2008, 12th in 2009, and 27th in 2010, and QB play has become a major issue with the poor play from Vince Young.
- Although 49er QB Alex Smith is set to become a free agent and will likely find a new home for the 2011 season, new HC Jim Harbaugh has met with the former top overall pick several times.
- The Cardinals are close to naming Steeler DBs coach Mike Horton as their new defensive coordinator, with a meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
- Raven C Matt Birk, a six-time Pro Bowler, will return to the team in the 2011 season.