Sunday morning one-liners

AP

The Bills are trying to snap an eight-game road losing streak on Sunday.

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin doesn’t seem to have much in common with his opposite number on the Jets sideline.

Patriots TE Daniel Fells says he’s healthy enough to help the team any way he can.

The Jets would like to see RB Shonn Greene make defenders miss on occasion.

Ravens RB Ray Rice hasn’t had big games against the Patriots in their last two meetings.

Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will face off with former boss Jim Haslett this week.

The Browns have seen growth from QB Brandon Weeden in terms of pocket presence.

Looking at Steelers DE Brett Keisel’s role against the Raiders.

Texans WR Andre Johnson’s matchup with Champ Bailey will be something to watch against Denver.

Remembering RB Edgerrin James, who will enter the Colts’ Ring of Honor Sunday.

QB Chad Henne is doing his best to remain ready should the Jaguars call his number.

S Jordan Babineaux isn’t brooding about the Titans’ decision to demote him.

The confidence level in QB Peyton Manning hasn’t dropped for the Broncos.

The Chiefs are looking for leadership.

Raiders DE Dave Tollefson gets a spirited and off-color pep talk from his mother before every game.

Chargers WR Malcolm Floyd is healthy and he’s producing on the field.

A call for the Cowboys to manage S Bobby McCray’s playing time on Sunday.

Giants QB Eli Manning got a big hug from WR Ramses Barden after Thursday’s win.

LB DeMeco Ryans has gotten a lot of credit for leading the Eagles defense in a better direction.

Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan wants to step up in the absence of Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker.

The absence of RB Matt Forte shouldn’t take all the teeth out of the Bears run game.

The Lions hope that RB Mikel Leshoure will prove to be worth the long wait.

Packers DL C.J. Wilson’s piano playing skills helped bring the team together the night before they won the Super Bowl in Dallas.

Vikings linebacker coach Mike Singletary thinks about another head coaching job as the 49ers, who he once coached, come to town.

Falcons S William Moore opens up about his rapping skills.

Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer calls the Panthers a meek team that doesn’t recover when they get down.

A graphical look at the Saints offense through two weeks.

Buccaneers K Connor Barth doesn’t spend much time thinking about his streak of 21 consecutive made field goals.

The Cardinals need to find more of a running game.

The Rams could have a tough time blocking Bears DE Julius Peppers this week.

With 49ers WR Randy Moss returning to Minnesota this weekend, Pat Borzi of the New York Times caught up with the caterer whose offerings didn’t meet with Moss’ approval just before his second departure from the Vikings.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will play in front of one of his biggest early supporters on Monday with Jon Gruden calling the game.

Tuesday morning one-liners

AP

Bills CB Stephon Gilmore has worked with the starters since his first day, and looks like he belongs.

The Dolphins are counting on more from WR Anthony Armstrong than when he was last there as a practice-squader.

Is there a clue to the Brian Waters situation in Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower’s new jersey number?

Jets NT Sione Po’uha says he’s playing this week, but coach Rex Ryan doesn’t sound so sure.

The Ravens are hoping Jacoby Jones adds some pop to the return game.

It hasn’t taken long for Bengals C Jeff Faine to go from unemployment to the starting lineup.

New Browns LB Tank Carder apparently got his nickname by being a giant toddler.

The Steelers voted Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Keisel captains for the year.

How good are the Texans? They won a championship more than 40 years before they came into existence.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano can sense the “electricity in the air,” about Week 1

It was a long and stressful weekend for the undrafted rookies who made the Jaguars’ roster.

New Titans return man Darius Reynaud has a big challenge replacing the injured Marc Mariani.

Former coach Tony Dungy caught up with Broncos QB Peyton Manning and several of his old players after practice.

The Chiefs were without four defensive starters when they opened the practice week.

Raiders C Stefen Wisniewski, who missed the entire offseason program after shoulder surgery and three preseason games with a strained calf, was limited in practice Monday.

Chargers LT Jared Gaither wasn’t in much of a mood to talk, but said he wouldn’t rush his return from back problems.

Not having TE Jason Witten could change the fundamental nature of the Cowboys offense, since they ran more than half their snaps last year with two tight ends.

For Giants offensive lineman Mitch Petrus, getting cut and re-signed was a wake-up call.

The Eagles are getting several key players back to health just in time.

Redskins LG Kory Lichtensteiger said he’s back to “100 percent” and ready to start after missing the preseason following knee surgery.

With the Adam Podlesh injury, even Bears spare punter Ryan Quigley doesn’t know if he’s playing Sunday, saying: “They tell me what I need to know.”

Lions DE Kyle Vanden Bosch might not like replacement refs, but he’s willing to accept there’s nothing he can do about it.

Things are looking up for getting Packers defensive linemen B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett back on the field.

Undersized Vikings CB Marcus Sherels has come from tryout camps to the roster and now a job as the primary punt returner.

Falcons coach Mike Smith won’t say who his starters are for the opener.

Panthers rookie CB Josh Norman doesn’t lack for confidence in himself or his alma mater.

Former Saints FB Heath Evans is raffling off his Super Bowl ring to raise money for the Celebration Hope Center.

RB D.J. Ware was comfortable coming to the Buccaneers because of offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.

The Cardinals have a lot riding on a patchwork offensive line.

Rams waiver claims Terrance Ganaway and Kellen Heard are grateful for a second opportunity to play.

Backup QB Colin Kaepernick’s running ability could prove to be a secret weapon for the 49ers offense.

The Seahawks think they have a versatile TE position after adding Evan Moore.

Brett Keisel says he’s “fine” after spraining ankle

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The Steelers are preparing for the worst when it comes to news about guard David DeCastro’s knee, but they might not need to light any candles for defensive end Brett Keisel’s ankle.

Keisel left Saturday night’s game against the Bills early after suffering what the team is calling a mild high left ankle sprain. Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Keisel told reporters that he “was fine” after the game, although making that determination official will have to wait until everyone finds out just how mild a sprain it really is.

High ankle sprains can keep players out of the lineup for a month or more, so there’s definitely some time pressure to make sure that he’s ready for the first week of the regular season. That likely means he won’t be clambering onto any tractors in the next couple of weeks. Keisel, who has missed 14 games in the last four seasons, was very productive last season and the Steelers were counting on more of the same from him up front this year.

Cameron Heyward replaced Keisel on Saturday and will likely get the nod if Keisel isn’t able to go against the Broncos on opening night. Heyward, last year’s first-round pick, had a sack and 11 tackles in 16 games as a backup last season.

Butler wants Woodley to overcome complacency

AP

With Steelers linebacker James Harrison sliding into the twilight of his career, the next great outside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense could be LaMarr Woodley.

But linebackers coach Keith Butler thinks that Woodley has to want it.  So far, he apparently hasn’t.

“Wood has to decide if he wants to be a great player,” Butler recently said, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  “When he decides that, he is going to be a bear.”

Last year, Woodley got off to a slow start, with only 1.5 sacks in four games.  Butler thinks that happened because Woodley showed up too for camp too heavy.

“He just wasn’t in shape,” Butler said.  “He’ll tell you that.  If he don’t tell you that, I’ll tell you that, I don’t care.  He has to get his big butt in shape, I tell him that all of the time:  Don’t come to camp weighing 290.”

This year, Woodley was closer to his listed weight of 265.  And Butler is happy.  But he still wants Woodley to not be content.

“A lot of guys come in the league and have a lot of natural ability,” Butler said.  “At some point in time they realize they have to work in order to stand out in this league.  If you don’t work, you are just going to be another guy — a good player, but not a great player.”

If Woodley can finally become that great player, the Steelers can continue to have a great defense, even after current anchors like Harrison and Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel are gone.

Troy Polamalu: Steelers don’t need rah-rah leadership

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The departures of players like Hines Ward, James Farrior and Aaron Smith has led to questions about leadership around the Steelers.

On offense, the answer is easy. Ben Roethlisberger is the quarterback and that meant he was a leader even while Ward was still on the squad. The answer on defense isn’t quite so clear.

Safety Troy Polamalu has been mentioned as a player who should be stepping into that role this season and he seemed to be embracing it when he took part in offseason work with the team for the first time in years. Polamalu insists he isn’t a vocal leader, though, and explained to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that isn’t a problem because he doesn’t think there’s much call for that kind of leadership on the Steelers defense.

“We’ve always had phantom leadership in that we have tradition,” Polamalu said. “There’s a certain way that we do things around here for as far back as I can remember, to Joe Greene and those guys, the way that we prepare ourselves and the way that we play. When you have that sort of phantom leadership, you don’t need a rah-rah guy that’s the face of the franchise that’s always pushing people.”

There might not be a need for anyone to be a rah-rah guy, but that phantom leadership only exists if there are players around who can make sure the old traditions get passed own to the new members of the team. Polamalu, Brett Keisel and Ike Taylor have all spent more than a decade with the Steelers, giving the Steelers plenty of players who fit that bill as they prepare for the coming season.

Brett Keisel arrives at training camp in style

Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel’s known for his huge beard, but he made an entrance to training camp that topped his own ability to be recognized.

Instead of a sports car or a luxury sedan like so many players drive, Keisel rolled up to his dorm at Saint Vincent College in a bright orange Kubota tractor.

“This has to be a first,” Keisel said. “It’s my way of saying ‘Hard work pays off.’”

Keisel got the tractor — to be specific, a M4070 front-loader — from a power equipment dealer in exchange for some promotional work he does for them.

“I’m a tractor guy,” he said. “I grew up in Wyoming driving one of these bad boys. This reminds me of my childhood days, swathing hay, plowing fields and planting fields.”

Give Keisel credit for making the commitment to his statement. He drove the tractor the final 20 miles to camp, with his luggage in the front bucket.

Now the heavy lifting begins.

Monday morning one-liners

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Arthur Moats is playing every linebacker spot for the Bills.

TE Anthony Fasano’s role in the Dolphins offense might be reduced this season.

Can the Patriots count on S Josh Barrett staying healthy long enough to help the team?

Rookie LB Demario Davis has made a strong impression on the Jets.

Ravens training camp has moved on from Westminster, Maryland but hasn’t been forgotten.

The Bengals haven’t gotten much pass rushing productivity from DE Robert Geathers.

Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer thinks there’s no reason to rush a trade of Browns QB Colt McCoy.

Steelers DE Brett Keisel is running a football camp in Mexico City.

Previewing the Texans’ summer kicking competition.

A look at how the Colts are selling tickets this season.

WR Mike Brown has caught the eye of Jaguars coaches.

The bright side of Titans RB Chris Johnson’s subpar 2011 season.

Broncos CB Champ Bailey is considered a “Canton Great” in the new Madden football video game.

A healthy Brandon Siler would be a boost to the Chiefs defense.

Raiders RB Darren McFadden is generating some buzz this summer.

Former Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson is working on his post-football legacy.

The Cowboys’ Dallas Day workouts bore some fruit this season.

The Giants and other recent champs have ridden a strong pass rush to titles.

Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com calls Eagles QB Michael Vick the biggest jerk in the NFL.

DL Jarvis Jenkins could be the key to an improved Redskins pass rush.

If given the opportunity, Bears WR Brandon Marshall would take Mark Sanchez over Tim Tebow.

Former Lions QB Greg Landry gave up his season tickets to the team a few years ago.

Packers OL Evan Dietrich-Smith has moved past the Ndamukong Suh kicking incident.

An early look at the final Vikings roster.

The Falcons feel their offense has made strides.

Panthers WR Steve Smith’s charitable activities include washing the feet of the homeless before giving them new socks and shoes.

Saints S Malcolm Jenkins had a hard time with a high school receiver at a football camp.

The Buccaneers are focusing on fundamentals this offseason.

Breaking down some numbers in the battle for the Cardinals’ quarterback job.

Rams rookies are getting to know their way around St. Louis.

49ers T Joe Staley checked out this weekend’s NASCAR race in Sonoma.

Seahawks CB Brandon Browner makes this list of the best debut seasons by undrafted players.

Gone fishin’ with Brett Keisel

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When Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel isn’t shaving off his beard for charity, he’s organizing a fishing trip.

For charity.

On Monday, Keisel took a group of contest winners fishing at a sporting club in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, a city roughly 15 miles from Pittsburgh.

“Why not do something charitable where people can bid on coming out spending the morning with us fishing you know we’re out here fishing anyways so we might as well do something to benefit others?” Keisel said, via KDKA-TV.  The auction that produced the winners supports the Challenge Program, Habitat for Humanity, and Variety:  The Children’s Charity of Pittsburgh.

“This is like the trifecta though we got Steelers’ Brett Keisel, fishing instead of work and we’re helping out the children’s Variety,” Tammy Frankhauser said.  “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

And they don’t get any better than Keisel.  He turns 34 later this year, so Steelers fans need to enjoy every additional game he suits up and plays with the team.

Saturday morning one-liners

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The Buffalo market had the ninth-largest local TV rating of Super Bowl XLVI.

LB Koa Misi may be a man without a position for the Dolphins.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com hands out awards for the Patriots season.

It looks like vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales will remain with the Jets.

A look at the decision Ravens C Matt Birk has to make about continuing to play in the NFL.

The Bengals are in good shape at wide receiver and tight end.

There’s plenty of space under the Browns’ cap.

Steelers DE Brett Keisel shaved his beard for charity.

The Texans feel quarterbacks coach Karl Dorrell will be a perfect fit.

A closer look at the injury that kept Colts QB Peyton Manning out for the 2011 season.

Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com thinks Shahid Khan’s first offseason as Jaguars owner will be a big storyline.

Keith Millard will be trying to take the Titans defensive linemen to the next level in 2012.

Upgrading the speed on defense is a priority for the Broncos.

Making sense of the Chiefs’ interest in CB Stanford Routt.

Raiders T Jared Veldheer showed a lot of improvement in 2011.

The Chargers hired Byron Storer as a special teams assistant.

Cowboys QB Tony Romo might not make the cut at Pebble Beach.

Giants DE Justin Tuck paid a visit to a NYPD officer who survived a bullet to the head.  [Editor’s note:  Plaxico Burress has an ironclad alibi.]

Former Eagles RB Kevin Turner is battling ALS.

Tracee Hamilton of the Washington Post doesn’t think Peyton Manning is the answer to the Redskins’ quarterback need.

There hasn’t been much communication from Bears G.M. Phil Emery since he took over the job.

Lions LB Justin Durant thinks the offseason will be beneficial to the team’s defense.

It’s the 20th anniversary of the trade that brought Brett Favre to the Packers.

The Vikings and other teams with young quarterbacks could learn something from the Giants’ patience with Eli Manning.

The Falcons need to improve on both of their lines this offseason.

G Byron Bell and DE Thomas Keiser made a quick transition from undrafted free agents to Panthers contributors.

Saints S Roman Harper’s play dropped off dramatically this season.

A high graduation rate at Rutgers helped Greg Schiano get the Buccaneers job.

Ashley Fox of ESPN.com thinks the Cardinals are the best fit for Peyton Manning because he can control the offense.

The Rams need to find a way to settle their differences with their landlords.

Steve Wyche of NFL.com includes the 49ers among the 12 most enticing storylines of 2012.

The Seahawks reached a two-year contract extension with OL Breno Giacomini.

Catching up with Brett Keisel

Florio is so big time that he has two shows down here at the Super Bowl. There’s 30 minutes of PFT Live and 3 hours of NBC SportsTalk.

The first interview of the day was Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel.

We mentioned Keisel’s thoughts on the Pro Bowl earlier. The rest of the interview is below.

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Steelers’ DE Keisel talks Ravens and Roethlisberger

Mike Florio talks with Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel about the toughness of the AFC North, competing with the Ravens, and Ben Roethlisberger’s recent issues with Art Rooney.

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PFT Live 1/30: Gregg Rosenthal, Brett Keisel

From Peyton Manning’s home turf, Mike Florio talks latest news on the Colts franchise QB.  Mike also talks about Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski’s ankle injury and the 2012 Pro Bowl.  In the second segment of PFT Live, Mike Florio talks with ProFootballTalk’s, Gregg Rosenthal about the super bowl match-up between the Patriots and Giants.  Mike Florio talks with Steelers defensive end, Brett Keisel about the toughness of the AFC North and competing with the Ravens.

Keisel on Pro Bowl: They “should have just put flags” on players

AP

The first guest of the week on PFT Live undeniably has the best beard in the NFL. Possibly in the history of the world.

Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel joined the show and talked about missing the Pro Bowl because he is injured.

“Hawaii’s a great place. That’s the biggest reason I would go. Get my surf on. Get some salt water on this beard. I’ve heard it helps it grow,” Keisel said while stroking his beard. “Along with Head & Shoulders.”

(That was such a seamless plug we had to mention it.)

Keisel did watch the game and felt like a lot of fans at home.

“The speed of game was like a walk through,” Keisel said laughing. “Or a jog through. They probably should have just put flags on them. It might have been more entertaining to see if they can get the flags off.”

We’ll have more from Keisel later in the day, including his comments on the disappointing end to the Steelers season and playing in the toughest division in football.

PFT Live: Brett Keisel, Gregg Rosenthal

The VW Bus has landed at the Media Center in Indianapolis and we’re ready to kick off four hours of programming a day in addition to all our coverage on PFT.

We’ll kick off the fun Monday with a gigantic beard. Steelers defensive line Brett Keisel joins the show for a fun segment.

Some hack named Rosenthal will also chime in after visiting with the Patriots on Sunday evening.

Watch the show live right here at noon ET.

A quick look at Monday’s PFT Live and NBC SportsTalk

AP

The peacock has landed in Indy, which is far better than flying into the big windows at Lucas Oil Stadium.  And so we’ll have plenty of stuff for you all day, and all week.

Apart from the constant cranking out of content at PFT, we’re loading up the guests lists for PFT Live and a three-hour weekday edition of NBC SportsTalk.

Today’s PFT Live features Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, along with a visit from Rosenthal.

NBC SportsTalk, which launches at 4:00 p.m. ET, has a slightly longer guest list.  In addition to separate appearances from Keisel and Rosenthal, we’ll have (tentatively) the following visitors to the traveling NBC SportsTalk set:  Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, new Raiders coach Dennis Allen, Rodney Harrison, Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Bob Glauber of Newsday, Giants play-by-play man Bob Papa, and Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard.

Tune in here for PFT Live at noon and to the NBC Sports Network for NBC SportsTalk at 4:00 p.m. ET.