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Here are some winners and losers from the Steelers for Week Two:
Maurkice Pouncey: The rookie lineman is, by far, the team's best offensive lineman and has the look of someone who can follow the long tradition of stalwart centers in black and gold. He makes all the line calls, blocks well in both phases, and is a steady, durable hand in the middle of a line that is flirting with disaster thanks to injuries.
Lawrence Timmons: Challenged to step up and play like the first round pick he was, Timmons has not just played better. He's played out of this world. He's having a Pro Bowl season in the middle of a tough linebacking corps and he is carving out a reputation as a run stopper and devastating blitzing linebacker.
Jeff Reed: Four field goals in four attempts means that people will start to forget that dud in the opener. His improvement on kickoffs also makes him worth more money, which is the name of the game in a contract year.
Byron Leftwich: After an injury to Dennis Dixon and a less than stellar performance by Charlie Batch, Leftwich is looking a lot more attractive for that start in Tampa on Sunday. He is rumored to be ready to go, although his original prognosis was three to four weeks. If he is, he's the odds on favorite to be under center.
Fantasy Owners: Anyone who had the Steelers' defense hit the jackpot on Sunday. In most leagues that I checked, the Steelers' defense netted their owners somewhere around 28 points. To give you an idea of how high that is, the Packers' defense garnered around 12 points in a blowout 34-7 win over Buffalo.
Dennis Dixon: Obviously it's got to hurt knowing that your biggest asset might have turned out to have been your undoing. Dixon will likely never be a premier passer. He is, however, a dangerous runner. Now, he's likely on the shelf with Leftwich returning to health and his own knee now acting up.
Bruce Arians: I don't care who is playing quarterback, you have to put them in a position to score points and win games. Being somewhere between predictable and obvious is not how you do that. Arians was on thin ice before. He's doing nothing to endear himself to the team or its fans now.
Mike Tomlin: His post game comments have incited a minor riot among the press. Right or wrong (and I happen to agree with him that a lot of people, although not everyone, have given the team no chance to compete in the first four weeks), he's going to pay for it for awhile. If the press doesn't like his style, I'd hate to see them against Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells.
Rashard Mendenhall: He did all he could do, but running into nine and ten man fronts is not a recipe for success. Tennessee loaded up so much against the run that it made it nearly impossible to find running room. Hopefully the tape bears that out and a better run/pass mix emerges in Tampa.
The Rest of the Offensive Line: Jonathan Scott and Tony Hills were poor replacements at left tackle. Flozell Adams struggled with the heat. Trai Essex got banged up. Chris Kemoeatu played a mostly nondescript game. This unit needs to get healthy in a hurry or it won't matter who is under center behind them. You can't blame Sean Kugler much. He just doesn't have a lot to work with.