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First call: Ben Roethlisberger's admission about Kenny Pickett; Harrison, Ward missed the Hall of Fame cut; ex-Steeler WR released

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Thursday’s “First Call” brings much praise from Ben Roethlisberger to his successor at Steelers quarterback.

A former Steelers wide receiver is back on the market. Two Steelers big names did not make the Hall of Fame finalists. The Penguins have a lot to copy from Thursday’s opponent.

And the Duquesne women’s team kicks off the early part of their Atlantic 10 conference schedule.


Apologies to Pickett

Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett’s back-to-back wins were an eye-opener for his Pro Bowl predecessor.

On a recent “Footballin’ with Ben” podcast, former Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger admitted that he may have put the ceiling too low on Pickett.

“I severely underestimated Kenny,” said Roethlisberger. “I think he plays the ball better than I thought. He runs a lot better than I thought, he’s faster or just more elusive, but he runs the ball a lot better than I expected. His decision making is very good. His leadership, toughness, just a plus for him it seems. I apologize for not doing that vocal. Kenny, keep doing what you’re doing.

Now Roethlisberger says “the sky’s the limit” for Pickett.


Related

• Steelers balance football’s return to normalcy as Damar Hamlin injury weighs on players’ minds
• Mark Madden: With Bengals-Bills postponed, postponing the NFL playoffs appears to be the best option
• Kenny Pickett Named Steelers Rookie of the Year, Mason Cole Honored for Media Cooperation


0 for 1

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced its 15 finalists for the Class of 2023. Steelers linebacker James Harrison was not selected. He had been a semi-finalist in his first year of eligibility.

Harrison was a two-time World Champion with the Steelers and the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. He was a four-time All-Pro with 84.5 sacks and 34 forced fumbles.

Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward also failed to advance beyond the semifinal round. This was his seventh time as a Hall of Fame semifinalist. Ward – a three-time All-Pro – also won two Super Bowls with the Steelers and was the MVP of the Super Bowl XL contest.

There are already 15 finalists. Pitt product Darrelle Revis is on the list.


washington lava

Former Steeler James Washington joined the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. His stay did not last long.

The wide receiver was released following the Cowboys’ recent acquisition of TY Hilton. The Texas native suffered a foot injury in training camp, has appeared in just two games and has yet to catch a pass.

A 2018 second-round draft pick from the Steelers, Washington became a free agent in the offseason and signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys.

Hilton already has five receptions for 102 yards in two games.


Lessons to be learned

One complaint fans have had about the Pittsburgh Penguins this season is that they’ve been very inconsistent.

They have lost seven in a row after starting with wins in four of their first five games. That bad period turned into victories in 14 of the 18 games. Now the Penguins have lost five in a row and six of seven.

It all added up to a record of 19-12-6. That’s good for just sixth in the Metropolitan Division.

Maybe they should take a page out of tonight’s opponent’s book, the Vegas Golden Knights. They haven’t lost more than two straight losses all season. They are 26-12-2. Those 54 points are the best in the Western Conference.

The Golden Knights are allowing 2.80 goals per game, 10th fewest in the NHL. Rookie goaltender Logan Thompson has 18 wins, tied for third in the league.

The team’s power play is down to 25%, tied for ninth in hockey. With 1,313 shot attempts, only four teams have more.

That said, the Penguins won the team’s previous showdown this season, 4-3 on Dec. 1 in Pittsburgh.


I’m not flying

The University of Dayton women’s basketball team won the Atlantic 10 regular season championship three years in a row.

But when the Flyers come to Pittsburgh to face Duquesne on Thursday night, the Flyers consider the 2022-23 season a struggle.

Under first-year head coach Tamika Williams-Jeter, Dayton is 2-10. But at least the Flyers won their last two games, 94-58 over Cedarville and 71-66 against George Mason.

Williams-Jeter is a Dayton product who was a two-time national champion as a player at UConn. She played seven years in the WNBA.

As for Dan Burt’s Dukes, they are 10-4, having lost the Atlantic 10 opener to Rhode Island 70-63 on Saturday. Tipoff is at 6pm

Tim Benz is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. You can reach Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via twitter. All tweets can be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise specified.

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