Daily Archives: April 13, 2012

Steelers All Time Players Draft for One Game


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Part of my entertainment on Easter Sunday was watching a Steelers Marathon on the NFL Network. One portion of which was a program on the top ten Steelers of all time. The problem, of course, is that there have been so many great Steelers players that folks like Jack Ham, Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson didn't make the list. That got me to thinking (sometimes a dangerous thing) about what might be a fun exercise for us at BTSC.

Imagine you are tasked with winning one football game and you get to select a roster of Steelers players to accomplish that task. Below you get to select from a list of groups of players who represent all of or a portion of a decade. Now, to get into the proper spirit of things please take the following into consideration:

- Most position categories are included except for the offensive line and punters.

- You can only select one group of players per category. Where designated you may add a player from the same era. You may also write in a group as well, but when you do so they must be from the same era. So no matching Buddy Dial with Louis Lipps or Roy Jefferson with Yancey Thigpen.

- The players you select should be imagined as playing against opponents of their own era, so no worries concerning size, strength or speed differentials between say, 60s eras players and 21st century players.

- Remember this is for one game only. So what's important within that very narrow context; Bobby Layne's leadership or Big Ben's talent, Mike Wallace's general big play ability or Lynn Swann's big game playmaking?

Offense

Quarterback

1. Terry Bradshaw*

2. Bobby Layne

3. Ben Roethlisberger

4. Write in

Tight End

1. Bennie Cunningham

2. Eric Greene*

3. Heath Miller

4. Write in

Running Back

1. Jerome Bettis

2. Franco Harris*

3. John Henry Johnson

4. Write in

Receivers

1. Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace

2. Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward

3. Ernie Mills and Yancey Thigpen

4. John Stallworth and Lynn Swann*

5. Write in

Punt/Kickoff returner

1. Antonio Brown

2. Antwaan Randle El

3. Lynn Swann

4. Rod Woodson*

5. Write in

Defense

Defensive Line

1. John Baker, Gene "Big Daddy" Lipscomb, Ben McGee, Ernie Stautner (I recognize that this group didn't play together, but pretend)

2. Joe Greene, LC Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, Dwight White*

3. Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, Aaron Smith

4. Write in

Linebackers

1. Kendrell Bell, James Farrior, Clark Haggans, Joey Porter

2. Chad Brown, Kevin Greene, Levon Kirkland, Greg Lloyd

3. James Farrior, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, Lamarr Woodley

4. Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Andy Russell*

5. Write in

Defensive Backs

1. Mel Blount, Donnie Shell, JT Thomas, Mike Wagner

2. Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, (your choice)

3. Brady Keys, Paul Martha, Marv Woodson, (your choice)

4. Carnell Lake, Willie Williams, Rod Woodson, (your choice)*

5. Write in

Kickers

1. Gary Anderson*

2. Roy Gerela

3. Lou Michaels

4. Jeff Reed

5. Write in

Head Coach

1. Bill Cowher

2. Chuck Noll*

3. Buddy Parker

4. Mike Tomlin

5. Write In

Team Executive

1. Art Rooney Sr.

2. Art Rooney II

3. Dan Rooney*

4. Write In

The asterisks are my personal choices, though I don't really think there are any wrong answers here. This is for thought and discussion. One player usually made the difference when I was choosing groups; for example Joe Greene and Jack Ham. But I think the fun and the challenge is to consider the range of options, even from the down days of the 60s where a number of quality players wore the black and gold. What group would you field for one game?



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Jonathan Dwyer To Train With Tom Shaw This Summer

While it is in no way big news, I enjoy passing along any player related tidbits this time of year. Pittsburgh Steelers third year running back Jonathan Dwyer told me via Twitter on Thursday that he will be spending the whole month of July training with the great Tom Shaw down in Orlando at the Wide World of Sports complex.

So why is this news worthy? Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert gave a radio interview to SiriusXM NFL Radio while in Indianapolis for the NFL combine this past February and was asked about Dwyer specifically as it relates to his potential. Colbert replied, "You know every Read more [...]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Jonathan Dwyer To Train With Tom Shaw This Summer


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While it is in no way big news, I enjoy passing along any player related tidbits this time of year. Pittsburgh Steelers third year running back Jonathan Dwyer told me via Twitter on Thursday that he will be spending the whole month of July training with the great Tom Shaw down in Orlando at the Wide World of Sports complex.

So why is this news worthy? Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert gave a radio interview to SiriusXM NFL Radio while in Indianapolis for the NFL combine this past February and was asked about Dwyer specifically as it relates to his potential. Colbert replied, "You know every Read more [...]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Antonio Brown, Baron Batch, Curtis Brown, et al: The Emergence of the New “Tomlin Steelers?”


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Ivan Cole’s Weekend Checkdown last Saturday obviously gave me a lot to chew on, because here’s the next installment of commentary upon it. Here's what he said after he reported Baron Batch was healed and ready for workouts, and stated the excitement about Batch was as much about his story and his character as what he has shown on the football field:

[T]he true significance here is that Batch may not be unique in character to others of the new or Tomlin Steelers. [Antonio] Brown and Batch are 6th and 7th round draft picks that have created an air of excitement that goes far beyond their relative modest credentials coming into the league. Add to that another player I am rooting very hard for because of character issues; safety Myron Rolle. Up to this point it would be hard to distinguish those players specifically selected during Mike Tomlin's tenure and those who came before. In the majority of cases they are just coming into their own as players and as such are hard to gauge as to how they might impact the team as leaders...

Let's assume just for argument's sake that Batch makes it and becomes a big contributor to the team. Would he, along with Brown, be considered as part of the future leadership of this team? Could some common characteristics be identified that might be given the label Tomlin Steelers?

Ivan also wrote in a later comment:

I am excited about some of the commonalities that appear to be manifesting among this young group of players; the work ethic, the intelligence, the lack of serious vices (when was the last time anyone has been ‘in the news’, as Tomlin used to say?) When Maurkice, Antonio and, perhaps, Baron get some more mileage under their belts what kind of leaders might they be?

There are other players Ivan didn't mention but seem to me to fall into this category. Emmanuel Sanders is a smart, quiet, hard-working, high-character guy who has produced well when healthy. The two cornerbacks the Steelers drafted last season appear to be cut from the same sort of cloth. Curtis Brown has a similar story to Antonio Brown and Baron Batch—grew up very poor, with minimal adult supervision and plenty of rejection. Any of them could easily have been another statistic, but they were, as Batch says, overcomers.

Curtis Brown also demonstrated his determination and character when, as Neal Coolong reported on February 3rd, Brown tweeted "Never start something and not finish. I really didn’t want to come back to school but I’m here." It shows commendable strength of character for Brown to return to school. Cortez Allen chose to attend The Citadel, which shows a willingness to live a disciplined life and an interest in achieving in other areas besides football. I'm sure there are others drafted in the past few years I'm not remembering or whose stories I don't know.

Leadership has been a popular topic of late, since so many of the acknowledged leaders of the team were released in this offseason. The Steelers lost the offensive co-captain, Hines Ward. On defense they lost both the defensive captain and the caller of the defense in the same person, mack linebacker James Farrior. They also lost a quiet man who the other players acknowledge as a mentor and leader in the locker room, Aaron Smith. On Special Teams they lost the captain, Arnaz Battle. All of these men were victims of the joint effects of Father Time and the NFL salary cap, although at age 32 Battle probably has a few more years of football in him.

Though these releases were perhaps inevitable and necessary, I cannot imagine the Steeler ownership, front office, and coaching staff underrated the leadership these men brought to the team when considering the cuts. Leadership is not a luxury. Anyone who believes it is needs merely to look at the 2010 Bengals or the 2011 Jets for recent cautionary tales. One can only assume the ownership, front office, et al, saw a group of leaders-in-waiting, to borrow a Tomlinism. And what better way for Mike Tomlin to finally silence the last doubters than by stamping his image on this team with a group of exciting players who evidence the leadership and character so necessary to any locker room?

Mike Tomlin walked into a team with established leadership, both on the coaching staff and among the players. This was undoubtedly a good thing, as Tomlin was very young and very inexperienced to be taking on a head coaching position. Since 2007 Tomlin has, in my opinion, visibly grown as a coach and leader. From his initial sometimes uneasy forays into commanding a group of men many of whom were close to his own age he has gradually assumed an easy relationship with his players which still leaves no one in doubt who is in charge. The last step in this process is for the leaders of the team to be Tomlin's men: chosen and drafted by him, developed by him, mentored by him.

This process takes time, especially given Tomlin's style. Tomlin identifies himself as a "servant leader" in the manner of his mentor, Tony Dungy. The essence of this style of leadership is to encourage and support the development of each person under one's authority. To do so you have to know the people who work for you well enough to know what they need in terms of guidance and direction, and how they can best receive it. (If you're interested to know more about "Servant Leadership" you can find a good overview here and information about the "founder," Robert K. Greenleaf, here.)

I think it is possible Mike Tomlin was jolted into a more careful adherence to the tenets of servant leadership by his failure with Limas Sweed. Tomlin benched Rashard Mendenhall, with great success, early in 2009, and perhaps unthinkingly used similar tactics on Sweed without considering the very different needs and personalities of the two players. I suspect Tomlin carries some of the burden of that organizational failure. Whether he should or not is a question for another discussion. But I believe he has as a result sought to consider even more carefully both who the team drafts/signs and how he deals with them.

Furthermore, the unhappy events of spring 2010 would very likely lead Tomlin to ponder the importance of understanding the character of each player on his roster. Only then can you know how to best help them. The great difficulty of this for any leader is in how difficult it is to actually like everyone you are obliged to deal with. But nonetheless I believe as Tomlin continues to mature as a coach and leader he will get even better at looking beneath the surface of his players and learning what they need.

Curtis Brown is an example. This article on Steelers.com details his struggles at training camp last year:

"The walls were closing in on me," said Brown. "Since I didn’t know anybody, didn’t really know the players and coaches yet … who do you have? It takes me a while to get used to anyone. I don’t just open up to people like that. I have always been a sheltered type dude."

From somewhere inside himself, Brown knew he would have to open up and trust others, but it wasn’t easy. He turned to Coach Mike Tomlin and Ray Jackson, who works in the area of player development.

"That helped me a lot," said Brown. "I found out everybody here wants to help you. They don’t want to harm you. It’s a family atmosphere. It’s good people here."

Brown not only made it through camp but went on to lead special teams in tackles before his December injury.

Perhaps Tomlin also feels one shouldn't make one's task unduly difficult. I think we are seeing the some of results of this in Tomlin’s later drafts. Note, for one thing, none of the respectable draft pundits have, to my knowledge, bothered to mock Vontaze Burfict to the Steelers, at least since the combine. Some teams will take a chance on a gifted troublemaker, although Burfict didn’t make that much of a case for himself as ‘gifted’ at the combine either. The Tomlin-led Steelers are almost certainly not going to take a chance on a player like Burfict, unless they sense in a personal interview with the player there is a substantial desire to radically change. A servant-leader doesn’t presume people can’t change—quite the contrary. It is the servant-leader’s job to help them do so, to their own and the organization’s benefit. But there is no point in bringing in someone who is not ready and even eager to change, and has demonstrated at least some ability to do so.

What is Tomlin, and consequently the Steelers, looking for? I believe it is heart, character, and the desire to excel. These characteristics are evident in this week's two free-agent signings, TE Leonard Pope and WR Jerricho Cotchery. They are both fine players who have demonstrated they undoubtedly belong in the league, but neither has set the world on fire with their enormous talent. Pope was a third-round pick, Cotchery fourth-round. However, they have both worked very hard to develop their gifts, and have had a good deal of success.

One of my favorite drills to watch at training camp is the TE sled shoving drill. (No one seems to be able to tell me a specific name for this drill, so ‘sled shoving’ it is.) It is held at the fence right in front of the bleachers, and Tomlin always comes to watch it, or at least always has when I’ve been there. (I attended several days of both the 2010 and 2011 training camps.) It’s close enough so you can hear Tomlin’s comments and see the expression on his face as each man takes his turn to run at the sled. Tomlin has a comment for each attempt. He may be exhorting, or complimenting, or even just grunting, but each man gets something. Each one gets back in line and tries to improve on the next attempts, and Tomlin watches each one intently.

What components of the sled drill does Tomlin finds so interesting? I can't say for sure, but as I see it the sled drill is all about heart, effort and attitude. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re an ideally proportioned TE, or if you can run a 4.4 40 yard dash. It’s about how much time you’ve spent in the weight room and how much energy you’re willing to expend on an almost certainly hot and muggy August afternoon. Tomlin is looking for the guys who will go the extra mile. (Of course, maybe he's just looking for a fullback... : )

Competition for places on an NFL team is not only unavoidable but desirable. In a corporate setting one can hire the necessary number of people, help them develop, and release them only if, after considerable effort on the part of management, they cannot fulfill the needs of the position. In the NFL it is more like a winnowing process. But this doesn't mean the team culture has to be "nature red in tooth and claw." As Tomlin put it at the beginning of the 2010 season in re Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, there were two dogs and one bone. Remarkably, though, in part because of the prevailing culture of mentorship as fostered by Tomlin and practiced by some of the now-departed leaders, Brown and Sanders forged a bond of what one might call co-operative competition.

Not everyone can get a "hat," but the personal and professional development fostered by a servant-leader can help those who didn’t get one to find a spot on another team, or use what they have learned in another field in their "life after football." Servant-leadership may not seem like the quickest or most direct way to the goal, but I believe it is the one which will pay the greatest eventual dividends, both for the organization and the individuals involved.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Pick No. 17 — Cincinnati Bengals Select Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia

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The back-to-back-to-back barrage of 'Bama players has been ended, but we're not leaving the SEC yet. We're finally into the second half of the 1st round, and seton hall and the steelers made the selection here for the pick that the Bengals somehow managed to fleece out of Oakland. Next up: San Diego Chargers and they'll be represented by BluegrassSteeler.

By the way, take note of the cool little minute-long draft profiles from SBN NFL that are embedded with these picks. It's been Michael Bean's personal project to make these videos happen, and let us know what you think of them! -barnerburner-

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The Cincinnati Bengals took a huge step in the right direction last year thanks to the play of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. However, they are still a few pieces away from being a major threat in the brutal AFC North. The Bengals still lack a lockdown corner because Jonathan Joseph left last year to play with the Texans. They still need an upgrade at running back because Cedric Benson is just bad. However, their biggest need is at right guard. They need a first round talent to play the guard position. They have some other minor needs at safety, wide receiver, and defensive end but those should be addressed later in the draft.

Thanks to the Oakland Raiders' stupidity, the Bengals were able to pick up an additional first round pick, which is the one they are currently slated to use. Because of the extra pick, they now have the versatility to take the best player available with their first pick and look to fill a need with their second first round pick. When I look at the draft board, I see a few players who stand out as the BPAs. Those players are Cordy Glenn, Stephon Gilmore, Courtney Upshaw, Jonathan Martin, and Fletcher Cox. Cox is by far the best player available, but also happens to play at the Bengals strongest position, defensive tackle. Upshaw is a great player, but does not fit at all in the Bengals 4-3 scheme. That leaves Glenn, Gilmore, and Martin as the three possible selections. When I look at those three players, the one who is clearly the best player is Glenn. Gilmore and Martin could both be there at 21 and in my opinion, present much better value at 21. However, Glenn is a phenomenal prospect who can play guard or tackle and with his athleticism, he could become a stud.

Without further ado, the Cincinnati Bengals select Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia.

I put a lot of thought into this selection and was furious when Trent Richardson went one pick ahead because that would have made the selection an easy one but ultimately, Glenn was a perfect blend of talent and need for the Bengals. He has all the tools to become a dominant offensive linemen at guard or tackle and will be just another piece in the Bengals build towards a championship caliber team.



BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Picks:



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Two more draft prospects visit Steelers

Brigham Young defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo and Wayne State safety Jeremy Jones are visiting the Steelers today as the team with less than two week before the start of the NFL draft.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Report: Handful of teams interested in Mike Wallace trade


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When Mike Wallace became a restricted free agent, his camp tried to spread the message that teams would be lining up to sign him because it would only take a first-round pick in compensation under the new CBA. That didn’t work, but they aren’t through trying to get Wallace more money than he’s set to…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers Re-Sign Wide Receiver Jerricho Cotchery


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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — The Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery Wednesday, helping to solidify their wide receiving corps.

Cotchery reportedly signed for two years. The financial terms haven’t been released.

Cotchery joins Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders on the depth chart, along with restricted free agent Mike Wallace. Cotchery pulled in 15 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns in the second half of last season.

His biggest impact came in the Wildcard playoff round at Denver, when he caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that sent the game into overtime.

Cotchery and Roethlisberger developed chemistry as the year progressed, as Cotchery slowly moved up the depth chart.

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Filed under: Football, Sports, Steelers Tagged: Jerricho Cotchery, Pittsburgh Steelers

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

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Steelers bolster offensive line with Essex, Legursky signings


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What constitutes a flurry of activity for the Steelers continued, as the team signed offensive lineman Trai Essex to a deal and locked up starting guard Doug Legursky.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Essex Signs 1-Year Contract With Steelers

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Steelers say they have re-signed offensive lineman Trai Essex to a one-year contract.

Essex, who was an unrestricted free agent, was drafted by the Steelers in the third round in 2005.

The veteran offensive lineman has played in 76 career games in the regular season and six post-season games.

He has spent his entire seven-year career with the Steelers.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Filed under: Football, Sports, Steelers Tagged: Contract, Offensive Lineman, Pittsburgh Steelers, Re-Sign, Trai Essex, unrestricted free agent

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers


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