Pitt notebook: Pat Narduzzi to keep eye on Steelers-Buccaneers game |

Pitt notebook: Pat Narduzzi to keep eye on Steelers-Buccaneers game

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Chiefs linebacker Reggie Ragland brings down Steelers running back James Conner during the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, at Heinz Field.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi didn’t want to predict what might happen when two of his former players inevitably collide on “Monday Night Football.”

But it’s sure to happen at some point when the Steelers and running back James Conner meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and safety Jordan Whitehead.

Conner has assumed the mantle as the Steelers’ lead back in the absence of Le’Veon Bell. He is fifth in the NFL (fourth in the AFC) with 152 rushing yards on 39 carries.

Whitehead, a rookie from Central Valley, is listed on the Tampa Bay second-team defense and has recorded six tackles in two games.

Chances are, Narduzzi will be knee-deep in preparations for next week’s Central Florida game by the time the Steelers game kicks off Monday, but he said he might take a peek.

“I might have to DVR that game,” he said.

Better yet: “I might have to drink a cup of coffee to stay up and watch that game.”

’A forever Panther’

Narduzzi, who is among the people who have contributed a total of nearly $40,000 to former Pitt offensive lineman Alex Officer’s gofundme page, said the MRI that uncovered Officer’s bone cancer was done by UPMC doctors.

“Our doctors take care of our players even when they’re not playing for us,” Narduzzi said. “Hearts and prayers are with that family. He’s a forever Panther.”

Narduzzi explained that Officer, who was released by the Kansas City Chiefs last month because of nagging knee pain, doesn’t have insurance. He said the gofundme donations “are going to be important to him to help pay some bills.”

The page was started by Officer’s brother Jerome Lewis with a goal of raising $100,000 to defray expenses during chemotherapy and subsequent surger y. By 7 p.m. Thursday, a total of $39,700 was raised in two days with donations from 513 people.

More demands on coaches

Narduzzi said he and his coaches consulted with someone he called a “guru option guy” in their preparations for Georgia Tech.

But he said it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find time for similar professional development because of recruiting demands on coaches, thanks to the early signing period in December. It forces recruits to make official visits in the spring, a time when coaches used to be able to study their craft. “The sad thing about it, (professional development) is getting less and less,” he said. “Ten years ago, we got more of it. You might go two places (to study other programs).

“But this recruiting is getting out of control. It’s ruining football in our development.

“Where do you spend your time? All these summer camps. You get less professional development. Somehow, we have to find time to do that.”

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