DMN: The Steelers have a tough stretch

QUOTE: “Many people feel they are powerless to do anything effective with their lives. It takes courage to break out of the settled mold, but most find conformity more comfortable. This is why the opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it's conformity.” -- Rollo May

The NFL schedule show revealed some interesting little nuggets that may or may not have an effect on the outcome of the 2010 season. Here are a few:

1. Minnesota has to be very happy to have only one outdoor game in a potentially bad weather city — playing at Philadelphia on Dec. 26. If I’m the Packers, I would be upset that the Vikings don’t have to travel to Lambeau in late November or December.

2. Pittsburgh without Ben Roethlisberger will have a tough opener and then has to deal with heat and humidity playing on the road in Tennessee and Tampa before returning home for its arch-rival, the Baltimore Ravens. Then, two weeks later, the Steelers play three consecutive road games, against Miami, New Orleans and Cincinnati. They need to find a way to steal a game or two while Roethlisberger is out.

3. I know my man Matt “Love Me Some Texans” Bowen is thinking playoffs this year for sure, but do you think he’s checked their schedule? First three games: home against Indy, at Washington then back home against Dallas. They must start fast and win those home games.

4. The 49ers got off to a fast start last season and faded, and this year they’ll need to fast start again as they play three of their first four on the road -- at Seattle, K.C. and Atlanta, with a home game against the Super Bowl champs in Week 2. Not impossible, but they need a fast start.

5. If Matt Leinart wins the starting job in Arizona this summer, he will have to prove his qualifications on the road with an opener in St. Louis, then Atlanta and, in Week 4, San Diego. Leinart might win the job, but this schedule is going to require him to play very well to keep the job.

Back to the 2010 NFL Draft with more news and notes…

1. I keep hearing that many teams have Boise State corner Kyle Wilson as the second best defensive back in the draft, even ahead of Joe Haden. Wilson is going to be off the board in the teens.

2. Some people in the league whom I spoke to Tuesday believe if the Redskins take a tackle at No. 4, it will be Trent Williams, not Russell Okung.

3. Every team I talk to wants to move down, and few want to move up. Green Bay, Philadelphia and New England might want to move up for the right player.

4. Most teams I talk with always ask me where I hear defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is going to be drafted — which tells me they have interest in him. My guess is Jacksonville. He’s a hot guy right now.

5. I never know how these stories grow, but the one about Donovan McNabb wanting Terrell Owens in Washington was never really a story. McNabb never wanted anything to do with Owens, and how this story ran out of control is beyond me. Mike Shanahan finally put an end to it yesterday, but the next question is, where will Owens land? Right now, there’s no interest.

6. I like the Byron Leftwich trade to the Steelers. He was well liked in Pittsburgh’s locker room when he was there in 2008 and didn’t want to leave — but he wanted to be a starter. Now, he can settle into a good role as a backup and help the Steelers fix their locker room.

7. Every time I hear Rams GM Billy Devaney talk, he’s gushing over some prospect he has just seen — which is understandable after watching his team. Sam Bradford will be the pick, but Devaney has made sure he’s given everyone a chance to be the No. 1 pick.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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