September brings talk of sunny South Florida afternoon heat. But true weather talk in the NFL comes with December.
That’s when wind, cold, rain and snow all become not just possibilities, but probabilities at every game played north of Baltimore’s latitude. And, the Heinz Field designers’ very open concept brings all the elements into play.
But which truly affect play?
“Snow is probably last because it’s really not as wet or causes as many problems,” Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline said. “Wind can be a pain in the butt because ball location changes really quickly. Rain, it depends because if it’s soaking wet, it’s maybe not as bad because you can adjust. When it’s hot then it rains and things get greasy, that can be tough. Cold is just a mindset.”
Dolphins kick returner Marcus Thigpen picked a combination of wind and rain as the most problematic. Wind, of course, because punts and kickoffs get buffeted all over the place. But Thigpen’s got a special rain problem.
“I wear contacts,” he said. “When I’m looking up, the rain’s kind of hitting my eyes. Makes it hard for me to see, makes it blurry.”
It’s assumed that the southern-based teams, such as the Dolphins, or indoor teams would be most affected by late season weather. But over Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace’s four years in Pittsburgh, his December numbers fit with the rest of the season. Hartline’s Ohio-born, raised and educated. Thigpen grew up in Michigan and went to college at Indiana University.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin fell on the sword Tuesday over being partially on the field last Thursday as Baltimore kickoff returner Jacoby Jones raced up the Steelers sideline. Tomlin called it “embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal, a blunder” but said he would never do such a thing intentionally.
You can bet Pittsburgh’s “Get Back Coach” hasn’t had a happy post-Thanksgiving.
That’s the coach on any staff responsible for getting the players and coaches away from the sideline so officials and players can move freely. If there’s a problem, officials go to the “Get Back” coach to deal with it before the team draws a penalty.
“Our strength coaches do a great job as the get-back coaches,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “I think we get told about 19 times a game to get back. That’s probably low. That’s part of the territory of being on the sideline.”
This and that
• Running back Daniel Thomas, who missed Sunday’s win against the Jets with an ankle injury, trotted out for stretching then rode the exercise bike as practice began.
• The Dolphins signed to the practice squad Emmanuel Ogbuehi, a rookie tight end and fullback out of Georgia State, which began playing football in 2010.