Five Things to Watch: Titans at Steelers

The highly anticipated first game of the NFL season is tonight at 7:30 p.m. as the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers host the Titans at Heinz Field. Here are five things to watch as the 2009 NFL season kicks off with this opening matchup.

1. The Steeler offensive line.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger admitted that Pittsburgh became a Super Bowl contender last year when the offensive line gelled late in the season. What was supposed to be an Achilles heel for the Steelers actually turned out to be the thing that lifted them to a Super Bowl title. Now Pittsburgh has one of the more cohesive offensive lines in the league and while no one player stands out, the entire unit works well together and it’ll be interesting to see if they pick up tonight where they left off last February in Tampa.

2. How will the Titans fare without Albert Haynesworth?
Haynesworth was the key cog in Tennessee’s defense the past couple years while commanding double teams and freeing up those around him to make plays. In steps Tony Brown, a player coming off a great ’09 season and one that must fill the massive shoes left by Haynesworth. Brown is more than capable as an interior pass-rusher, but he probably won’t command double-teams like Haynesworth did. How will his linemates Jevon Kearse, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jason Jones fare now that they might not see one-on-one matchups like they did when Haynesworth was playing next to them?

3. Do the Titans still lack offensive playmakers?
Running back Chris Johnson burst on the scene last year as a rookie, averaging 4.9 yards a carry and totaling 10 touchdowns (9 on the ground, 1 through the air). But it was clear in Tennessee’s loss to Baltimore in the AFC Divisional Round that the Titans lacked offensive playmakers. So they signed former Steeler Nate Washington and drafted Kenny Britt in the first round to give their receiving corps a boost. Will it be enough? We won’t find out about Washington tonight as he continues to battle an injured hamstring, but Britt practiced with the starting offense all week and will get an opportunity to play. Although he lacks elite speed, Britt was a monster after the catch while playing at Rutgers and could give quarterback Kerry Collins a nice weapon tonight in the passing game.

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Body language expert suggests Big Ben is telling the truth

As Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gave his first public appearance since being accused of sexually assaulting a Las Vegas hotel worker, a TV station in Pittsburgh asked a body language expert to break down Big Ben’s demeanor to see if he was telling the truth.

Well breathe easy Ben, because you’re innocent…at least in the eyes of this so-called expert.

On Thursday night, Channel 11 News invited a body language expert to review the statement made by Ben Roethlisberger about the civil lawsuit filed against him.

Sally Chopping said she believes Roethlisberger is telling the truth about the allegations against him.

“You can really tell he’s finding this thing heavy going,” she said after watching the statement.

In a part of the statement where Roethlisberger shook his head a split second before the word ‘never’, Chopping said, “He’s not thinking it, he’s not faking it, he’s feeling it.”

Chopping also believes Roethlisberger is feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders, evidenced by his shoulder shrugs. But she believes the shrugs also show his sincerity.

Well, that settles that then – who’s up for some chimi chungas?

I think Big Ben is innocent too, but I find it funny that a TV station (in Pittsburgh, mind you) brought in a body language expert to try and determine whether or not he was telling the truth based on a speech he gave. What if this woman came in and said he was lying based on his body language? How much do you want to bet that that segment would have never seen the light of day?

Goodell to look into Roethlisberger sexual assault allegations

According to a report by, commissioner Roger Goodell said that he’s going to look into the sexual assault allegations that have been brought upon Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he is looking into the allegations against Roethlisberger, one of the biggest names in sports. He has won two Super Bowl titles in his five-year career and is about to report to training camp as the Steelers look to repeat as champions.

“I don’t know enough of the details, but it’s a civil lawsuit, it’s something that we obviously will look into,” Goodell said when asked about it in New York during an unrelated news conference. “I’ve been in touch with the Steelers about it.”

Roethlisberger’s lawyer adamantly denied the allegations Tuesday.

“Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone,” David Cornwell said in a statement. “The timing of the lawsuit and the absence of a criminal complaint and a criminal investigation are the most compelling evidence of the absence of any criminal conduct. If an investigation is commenced, Ben will cooperate fully and Ben will be fully exonerated.”

I’ll say the same thing today as I did yesterday when these allegations first came out: We don’t know enough yet to assume anything. We can speculate all we want but the fact of the matter is that there’s no factual evidence that suggests Big Ben did anything wrong.

One thing is for sure though, Goodell isn’t going to tolerate any player tarnishing the NFL shield. So if Big Ben is found guilty of any wrongdoing, you can rest assure that Goodell is going to make him pay because no individual player is above the league.

Lawyer denies sexual assault allegations against Roethlisberger

According to Profootballtalk at NBC Sports, a civil lawsuit alleging sexual assault has been filed against Ben Roethlisberger, although the quarterback’s lawyer is denying that Big Ben has done anything wrong. A Nevada Harrah’s employee named Andrea McNulty filed the lawsuit.

Lawyer David Cornwell acknowledged the suit but defended Big Ben to PFT, releasing this statement: “Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone.”

He also underscored that no criminal charges were pending. “The timing of the lawsuit and the absence of a criminal complaint and a criminal investigation are the most compelling evidence of the absence of any criminal conduct,” Cornwell said. “If an investigation is commenced, Ben will cooperate fully and Ben will be fully exonerated.”

Roethlisberger is potentially staring at one civil count of assault, one civil count of sexual assault and battery, one civil count of false imprisonment, one civil count of false pretenses, one civil count of fraud, and one civil count of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

According to the PFT article, McNulty alleges that Roethlisberger asked her to come to his hotel room to fix the television and thereafter forced her to have sex with him. But who knows? Is she telling the truth or is she making things up because he’s a star athlete with an exorbitant amount of money?

It is important not to jump to conclusions here. Big Ben hasn’t been convicted of anything and until more details are released, we shouldn’t assume anything. For all we know, this is just a huge misunderstanding and Roethlisberger will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

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