- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2009

POSTCARD FROM TAMPA, FLA.

The days of staying near the airport and Raymond James Stadium when the Redskins visit the Buccaneers are officially over.

Sir Scribble has become a fan of the downtown area, at least when it’s not crammed with fans of the two Super Bowl teams.

Built since the city last hosted the Super Bowl, the Channelside district has offered The Washington Times’ Super Bowl crew good eats during the entire stay and convenient transportation on streetcars. This in exchange for walking to a shopping mall in the Westshore area of town for dinner (and bypassing the Steak & Ale).

In the area, there is little sign the Super Bowl is here, which is usually the case but a little more noticeable this year. Maybe the economy is impacting the NFL.

*Thursday is the final time to talk to the players. Thank goodness. The desire to have this game be played already set in for real Wednesday, but Scrib then saw the weather back home decided a few more days in the west Florida sunshine might not be so bad.

*Former Redskins running back John Riggins was asked during a Sirius NFL Radio press conference whether former teammate Russ Grimm belongs in the Hall of Fame. He said he does, but as is his wont, Riggo took a while to explain - 2 minutes, 55 seconds.

MATCHUP TO WATCH

CARDINALS DT DARNELL DOCKETT vs. STEELERS Gs CHRIS KEMOEATU and DARNELL STAPLETON

Arizona’s defense is unique in that it rotates from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4 look, and that means Dockett often lines up against both guards.

Dockett, who attended Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, is a 285-pound force. He made 49 tackles during the regular season (he added four sacks and 13 quarterback hits), and Redskins coach Jim Zorn said before the teams’ Week 3 game that Dockett’s quickness and power make him tough to double-team.

Therefore, especially when Bryan Robinson lines up at nose tackle, it will fall on Kemoeatu and Stapleton to contain Dockett in one-on-one situations. Kemoeatu replaced free agent departure Alan Faneca and started all 16 games; Stapleton replaced an injured Kendall Simmons in Week 5. The Steelers are about running up the gut. If Dockett can control the middle, that will play into the Cardinals’ interception-heavy defense. If he is neutralized, that favors Pittsburgh’s run-feeds-the-pass offense.

THREE QUESTIONS WITH STEELERS DEFENSIVE TACKLE CASEY HAMPTON

1. Is safety Troy Polamalu’s personality as quiet and reserved as he appears to be?

A: That’s just around you guys. He’s a prankster and a jokester. He picks and chooses his times to speak out and things like that. He’s just really soft spoken and that makes him seem like a quiet guy.

2. How confident are the Steelers that they can stop an Arizona running game that ranked last in the NFL during the regular season?

A: That’s what we do. This game won’t be any different than any other. We’re going to go out there, stop the run and make them one-dimensional, and that’s what we do.

3 When the Steelers released Joey Porter before 2007, how it was received in the locker room?

A: It was tough losing Joey. He had been there for a long time. We were definitely unhappy when it happened, but at the same time, we know what the deal is, and we know that guys come and go all the time and nobody is above being let go or forced to leave the team.

PROP BET

How many times will NBC show Brenda Warner - wife of Cardinals QB Kurt Warner - during the game?

Over-under3 1/2

UP-DOWNS

UP Clinton Portis’ prediction

Of the three players at a Pro Bowl news conference, he was the only one to make a pick - Arizona by more than 10.

DOWN Asking questions

Wednesday was the third of four media sessions. The notebook - and brain - is just about empty of queries.

UP Gallagher’s Steakhouse

Located in the Channelside District of downtown Tampa, it’s a highly recommended stop for those who like red meat or seafood.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Maybe I’ll sneak out early during halftime. When [coach Mike Tomlin] is talking to the team, I usually sneak out and go kick anyways, so maybe I’ll go watch him.”

- Pittsburgh kick Jeff Reed when asked whether he will watch Bruce Springsteen’s halftime performance

NUMBER OF THE DAY

4,589 Media credentials issued for the Super Bowl, down from last year’s 4,786. The NFL believes it’s the first time the request declined from the previous year.

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