Monthly Archives: August 2008

Essex, Mahan, and Starks on the trading block?

It has been reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers are attempting to “package” trade (possibly with the Chicago Bears) with Trai Essex, Max Starks and/or Sean Mahan.

Sean Mahan

It’s been rumored that Mahan has been secretly demanding a trade after losing the starting center Pittsburgh Steelers centerposition to newcomer Justin Hartwig (signed from the Miami Dolphins). Sean Mahan has been a disappointment to the Steelers after failing to prove that he can play the center position for the Steelers especially considering his steep salary cap hit of $4.6 million. Consistency, Mahan has proved that he does not have the size or strength to anchor the offensive line against the largest defensive tackles and nose tackles that are present in the AFC North.

Trai Essex

Trai Essex has had a decent 2008 preseason in showing the coaching staff that he is a legitimate backup at both the tackle and guard positions. Still, he appears to be nothing more than a career back at the tackle but has stepped in an been successful in limited playing time.

Max Starks

Possibly the biggest disappointment of anyone on the Steelers roster. Starks is being paid among the top of all offensive tackles with a 1 year, 6.9 million dollar contract but is in a backup role. Starks, if it wasn’t for the money, should be cut. Watching Starks throughout the 4 preseason games was painful. He has not improved at all. In fact, he looks slower and heavier than ever and displays extremely poor technique for being a high-paid veteran. Rumor has it, that in training camp, Starks was simply going through the “motions” without any intention of becoming a better player. Most Steelers fans would be happy with a trade involving Starks especially if it results in a better o-line prospect, or depth along the defensive line. The only problem is which team (if any) would pay Starks 6.9 million this year?

Gene Upshaw Dies at age 63

It has been reported that Gene Upshaw, President of the NFL Players Union, has died at the age of 63 on Tuesday August 21st, 2008.

It is thought that the cause of death was his fight with pancreatic cancer.

Gene Upshaw played for the Oakland Raiders in the AFL and the the National Football League for 16 years after graduating from Texas A&I University. He played in three Super Bowls; in the 1967, 1976 and 1980 seasons.

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Steelers vs. Bills – Preview

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills

7:30 pm est

(Replays on NFL Network)

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Steelers plan to kick-off their second preseason game in Toronto against the AFC East Buffalo Bills. Mike Tomlin suggested that the starters are expected to see significantly more playing time in tonight’s game. Below are some players to keep an eye on:

Justin Hartwig – One of the very few Steelers free agent pickups is expected to see his first start tonight, Justin Hartwig at center in place of last year’s starter, Sean Mahan. Hartwig is expected to gain the starting role after Mahan struggled last year with the larger nose tackles in the AFC North. Hartwig is bigger and stronger than Mahan and tonight he could prove to everyone that he belongs to start.

Lawrence Timmons – LT was very impressive in his last preseason game against the Eagles. Timmon’s showcased why Tomlin & Co spent their #15 overall pick in the 2007 draft. He displayed his speed and his explosiveness to close quickly on the ball. Let’s hope he can put together back-to-back impressive games. It is expected that Foote will start alongside of Farrior but Timmons will play on 3rd downs\. However, if Timmons continues to impress, expect LT to unseat Foote for the starting role.

LaMarr Woodley – Woodley was not able to get a sack against the Eagles but he did display good penetration. I look for Woodley to have at least one sack against the Bills. It’s just a matter of time until he registers his first one. Overall, I think the Steelers pass rush needs to improve. I did not see the pocket collapse quickly against the Eagles and that is a little worrisome.

Rashard Mendenhall / Willie Parker – Both of these guys looked really good against the Eagles. Parker looked as explosive and fast as always and looks to be over his broken leg. I’m really excited to see more of Mendenhall. Against the Eagles, Mendenhall averaged just about 5 yards/carry and looked impressive doing so. He has a great combination of vision, size, power, and speed to really excel in this league.

Offensive Line – The OL looked adequate in its first preseason game. However, it’s way to early to determine if this OL will give up another 47 sacks this year. The jury is still out on these guys. Until they can show consistency, I can’t label this group as improved. On a side note, Starks looked terrible as usual in a backup role. Can someone please explain Colbert’s logic for paying Max Starks, a backup, 7 million dollars this year? By the way, that is the most of any left tackle in the league. YIKES.

Defensive Line – The DL really did not impress me in the last game. I thought the Eagles had some success running right up the middle of the Steelers defense. Now that Casey “I don’t weigh 365 pounds anymore” Hampon has returned to the lineup, I expect this unit to improve in this area.

Limes Sweed – Even though Sweed didn’t have many opportunities, he did make some very nice catches. I had heard Sweed had “suspect hands”. Based on the Eagles game alone, he looks to have great hands. I like what I see so far, and I think he’ll only improve from here.

Other Notables:

Ben Roethlisberger / Santonio Holmes / Hines Ward – I just want to see these guys in action a little more. The “hot read” with Ben and Holmes that resulted in a touchdown against the Eagles was a thing of beauty. This should keep defenses honest and improve on the amount of sacks given up. This offense has the potential to be one of the most explosive units in the NFL as long as the OL can hold its ground.

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Back on Backers: Timmons dominates

Second year pro Lawrence Timmons dominated in the back on backers drill. His agility and explosiveness is represented in the following video. He used strength and explosiveness to avoid blocks on one occasion and agility via a “swim move” on the next. In fact, the only person that was able to contain Timmons was pro bowl running back, Willie Parker. Parker stood up TImmons and contained him for the majority of the drill. Pro Bowler, James Harrison was also impressive in these drills by overpowering everyone that he faced.

Check the latest training camp updates in the here!

Special thanks to costanza2k1 for providing the Planet Steelers community with all the latest training camp information.

Steelers Training Camp: Stand Outs

As the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp continues in Latrobe, PA certain players are starting to standout and looking like 2008-09 will be a break out year. Let’s review a few of the players that are turning heads thus far in Latrobe.

LaMarr Woodley

LaMarr WoodleyWoodley has been virtually unstoppable thus far in training camp. Coach Mike Tomlin has attempted to match up Woodley against both right tackles Willie Colon and Max Starks but both resulted in Woodley sacking the quarterback on most occasions. I don’t know if Colon and Starks are that bad or if Woodley is simply that good, but I believe it’s a combination of both. Woodley has a great combination of speed, strength, and relentlessness that will allow him to be star this in these league. Woodley doesn’t seem to be flying under the radar either, Pete Prisco of is predicting Woodley to have 15 sacks this season.

Santonio HolmesSantonio Holmes

Let’s just say this, Holmes showed up in great shape this year in camp. He’s looks like he’s on the verge of having a breakout season and I believe he will do just that. Again, Pete Prisco said that he thinks Holmes is going to have pro bowl season with over 80 catches and topping 1500 yards receiving! This could be the year that Holmes will turn into Ben Roethlisberger’s #1 target. Prior to training camp, Holmes (along with several other Steelers) trained with Tom Shaw at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex to work on his explosiveness, and speed. Look for huge numbers from Holmes this year. Pick Holmes for your fantasy team.

Lawrence Timmons

Lawrence Timmons is another player that is going to make a big impact in the 2008-09 season. It is Lawrence Timmons expected that Timmons may not beat out Foote for the starting position, but he will see a significant amount of playing time especially on 3rd downs. Thus far in training camp, Timmons has displayed his explosiveness, and a knack for being around the ball which prompted the Steelers to pick LT #15 overall in the 2007 NFL draft. Timmons has been unstoppable in the back-on-backers drill showing his explosiveness and quickness to avoid blocks. Timmons showed up bigger, and stronger, and in great shape at 6-1 245 pounds. He is much more comfortable with role in the Steelers defense at both inside and outside linebacker. Timmons is also said to be the “5th man” which means he is the top backup at both ILB and OLB.

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