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Opinion: Steelers need more to catch Ravens, Bengals

| Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It was nice to see the Pittsburgh Steelers sign four free agents this week. not counting their own Ryan Clark.

The addition of Antwaan Randle El, Will Allen, Arnaz Battle and Johnathon Scott, however, won't be anywhere near enough to pass up Cincinnati and Baltimore in the AFC North.

Most Steelers fans remember Randle El for throwing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward to wrap up the 21-10 Super Bowl XL victory over Seattle. He also caught 35 passes for 558 yards and returned 44 punts for two touchdowns and a 10-yard average. That was five years ago when Randle El was 26.

Although Randle El caught 50 or more passes for Washington in the last three of his four seasons with the Redskins, it remains to be seen how much gas is left in his tank.

Allen and Battle are best known for their special teams' play while Scott has started only 10 games in four years with two of the NFL's worst teams, Buffalo and Detroit.

While the Steelers haven't come up with a new impact payer, the Ravens did with the signing of three-time Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin, who wasn't happy taking a back seat to Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona.

If Boldin can avoid injuries, which have been a problem in the past, the three-year, $25 million extension he's getting from Baltimore will be money well spent. The Ravens also added Donte Stallworth, which means Joe Flacco now has two really talented receivers, something he didn't have a year ago

Cincinnati, meanwhile, could be getting Terrell Owens and Antonio Bryant as new targets for Carson Palmer.

• Bet neither Sidney Crosby nor Evgeni Malkin was happy to hear that one of Boston's standouts, Marc Savard, could possibly miss the rest of the NHL season with a concussion after getting a hit to the head from Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke late in the Penguins' 2-1 win Sunday at Mellon Arena.

The Penguins go to Boston a week from Thursday, and retaliation by the Bruins wouldn't come as a surprise.

• Don't take a first round win for Pitt in the Big East tourney over either Notre Dame or Seton Hall Thursday for granted.

If you have a short memory, last year's Pitt powerhouse featuring DeJuan Blair, Sammy Young and Levance Fields lost its initial Big East game to West Virginia.

Speaking of Blair, he's averaging seven points, six rebounds and 18 minutes for San Antonio in his rookie NBA season. He left the Panthers after his sophomore campaign.

• It should be interesting to see what happens in South Bend, Ind. in the very near future.

There's talk that Notre Dame may give up its football independence to join the Big Ten Conference.

Notre Dame was one of five schools listed in The Chicago Tribune as being studied by an investment firm if the Big Ten expanded from its current 11 members to 14 or 16. The other four were Pitt, Rutgers and Syracuse from the Big East and Missouri from the Big 12 Conference.

Notre Dame has been getting an estimated $15 million a year from NBC for its games as an independent.

• And thanks to Rich Overand, of New Eagle, who says a wise man is known by the things he doesn't say!

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