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Holmes making fast splash

November 8, 2007
The Altoona Mirror
Bill Cowher didn’t coach the Pittsburgh Steelers to a large number of victories in 2006, the year after they won Super Bowl XL.

But he at least made one post-Super Bowl move that is turning out to be a real winner.

The Steelers had the last pick of the first round of the 2006 NFL draft and gave up their second-round selection to trade up to No. 25 and select Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

The move was rather curious at the time considering the Steelers locked Hines Ward into a contract extension a few months earlier, the offensive line was on the verge of losing its starting center to retirement and the Steelers had just lost its big running back, Jerome Bettis.

Many draft forecasts had the Steelers going after center Nick Mangold or running back LenDale White, who both have done pretty well in the NFL in their own right, but Cowher and Kevin Colbert wanted Holmes.

A year-and-a-half later, it couldn’t have worked out any better for the Steelers.

Most receivers take at least two seasons before becoming an impact player in the NFL, but Holmes is way ahead of schedule after a strong second-half season during his rookie year.

This year he’s become more of a threat on offense than Hines Ward.

On Monday night, he made some big plays, which coach Mike Tomlin calls “splash plays.’’ He caught two touchdowns to give him six for the season.

He’s made quite a few splashes in other ways.

Holmes ranks first in the entire NFL for first-down percentage of any receiver with more than 10 receptions.

Of his 30 catches, 27 have gone for first downs (90 percent).

His 17.9 yards-per-catch average is also third in the NFL among players with 20 or more catches.

Holmes was the first receiver chosen in the ’06 draft. The next two after him were Chad Jackson (Patriots) and Sinorice Moss (Giants). Clearly, the Steelers made the right call.

Holmes is becoming the kind of consistent deep threat that Plaxico Burress never quite reached with the Steelers.

Division title close?

If the Steelers beat the Browns on Sunday, giving them a 7-2 overall and 4-0 divisional record, they almost certainly will be the AFC North champions this year.

Of the Steelers’ last seven games, four of them are against opponents with a current combined record of 3-30.

NFL Week No. 10

Game of the week: Dallas at New York Giants, 4:15 p.m. Sunday (FOX).

Upset special: Oakland (+3) at home vs. Chicago.

Fantasy tip: The Bills’ Marshawn Lynch could have his best day as a pro against the Dolphins this week.

Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or

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