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The Steelers 1978 Season Begins Here>>>

STEELERS QUESTION MARK AT CORNERBACK

With the loss of J.T. Thomas to a blood disorder, the Steelers need to find a replacement at left cornerback. The Steelers number one draft pick Ron Johnson and Wentford Gaines were the leading candidates as the Steelers training camp continued.

A rookie in the secondary can cost a team a touchdown per game was the old football saying so for the Steelers, it was a question whether they needed to trade for a veteran. “I don’t feel any added pressure,” admitted Johnson. “I just go through the learning process and concentrate on what I’m doing. I just can’t make too many rookie mistakes.”

Gaines was more realistic about the challenge. “I’ve just got to get on my horse and do everything correctly to keep the coach’s interest,” he said before confessing, “I have these little doubts, they keep you trying. I’m confident I can do the job.” Gaines was selected in the ninth round of the 1976 draft, but had been on injured reserve for two seasons.

Although he was considered the favourite for the position, Johnson acknowledged he wasn’t making any assumptions. “I’m not counting my chickens before they’re hatched,” he said. “Gaines is a helluva defensive back and I think we’re playing pretty much together.”

STEVE FURNESS BELIEVES DEFENSE IS BETTER WITHOUT ERNIE HOLMES

Steve Furness media photoThe Pittsburgh Press suggested that Steve Furness who replaced Ernie Holmes at defensive tackle during the 1977 season isn’t too broken up about the absence of Holmes who had been traded to Tampa Bay.

“I think Ernie really hurt our team,” Furness told reporters. “With him gone, we have a lot faster guys and we can do so much more.” With a touch of ridicule, Furness added, “You need guys that can run to rush the passer and you can’t run when you’re fat.”

“I think anybody that is a fan of the Steelers knows he wasn’t playing up to his ability,” continued Furness. “When they first played me, I think they were trying to push him a little harder, but it didn’t work.” On the pass rush, Furness suggested Holmes was slowing everything down.”

TERRY BRADSHAW PRACTICING PUNTS

After Terry Bradshaw was seen punting during training camp, Coach Noll was asked if Bradshaw would be the backup punter. Noll, who the Post-Gazette suggested likes to lift lines from old radio shows quipped, “Who know what evil lurks in the minds of men?”
“Me punt?” Bradshaw joked before adding, “I’ve got this bad wrist.”

Turning serious, Bradshaw acknowledged, “I’m the backup. I’m always the backup unless they draft someone to be the backup and then I’ll relinquish it,” before he admitted, “Not regretfully.”

JACK LAMBERT AND AUTOGRAPH HUNTERS

Vito Stellino wrote in the Post-Gazette that after every morning practice, Jack Lambert takes on the appearance of the Pied Piper of St. Vincent College as he is engulfed in the midst of a crowd of milling youngsters seeking autographs. Lambert patiently signs autographs for 20-25 minutes until he is usually the last player into the dining hall for lunch.

Although signing autographs is not Lambert’s idea of a fun way to spend time, he remembers when he was a kid collecting autographs at the Cleveland Browns camp and how he felt when he was brushed off. “I thought they were rotten,” he says with a smile.

Lambert’s popularity as one of the fans’ favourite target for autographs is a sign that the acrimony from his holdout last season has been forgotten. He was heckled by some fans and the whole experience was a trying one for the player.

“It bothered me the whole season,” he revealed before adding, “It’s a hard thing to put out of your mind. You try to convince yourself it’s not bothering you, but subconsciously it’s there.”
Lambert admits, “I wasn’t happy with the way I played last year. I didn’t play poorly. I still led the team in tackles, but mentally I wasn’t where I should have been.”

Despite all the challenges, Lambert had no regrets about holding out for a contract that made him the league’s highest defensive player at $200,000 according to the NFL salary survey.

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This site last updated October 14th 2017.

Ben's early games with the Steelers.

The Steelers 1977 season in full.
The Steelers 1976 season in full.

The Steelers 1975 season in full.
The Steelers 1974 season in full.

The first NFL champions the 1902 Pittsburgh Stars added June 2016

The Pittsburgh Americans added August 2015.

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