Daily Archives: May 8, 2012

Steelers Ink Second Round Pick Mike Adams

The Steelers continue to get their draft picks inked, as Scott Brown on the Trib reports the team has come to terms with second round pick Mike Adams.

The 6-foot-7, 323 pound OL is expected to step right in and be a starter as a tackle from day one for a Steelers team that needs help on a revamped O-line.

Adams played in just 32 games for OSU, missing time with shoulder and knee injuries, as well as disciplinary issues. Adams was suspended for two games as a sophomore for violating team rules and was suspended for the first five games of his senior season for receiving improper benefits from a tattoo parlor.

Prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, Adams tested positive for marijuana at the 2012 Scouting Combine, cementing his status as a second round pick.

Source: Steelers Gab


The Immaculate Selection: Luck as the Residue of Design

Branch Rickey is rightly famous for a lot of things. First among them, bringing Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball. Second, the establishment of baseball's first truly successful minor league farm system. But he is also found in Bartlett's and most other books and lists of famous quotes for something he said about luck. He said it more than once, but this 1952 quote, in its entirety, explains it best...

“Things worthwhile generally don’t just happen. Luck is a fact, but should not be a factor. Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best. Negligence or indifference are usually reviewed from an unlucky seat. The law of cause and effect and causality both work the same with inexorable exactitudes. Luck is the residue of design.”

Branch Rickey died long before Mike Tomlin was born, but the Great Mahatma could have been talking about the Steeler coach, his staff, the front office and scouting department.

When Mike Tomlin showed up for his Steeler job interview, he walked in with two loose leaf notebooks. One was an analysis of every player on the Steeler roster and practice squad. The second was a plan on how to take what they had, make necessary changes, and get that team to the Super Bowl. Tomlin wowed Dan Rooney and the rest of the Steeler front office with his analytical abilities and his total preparation. We don't know if he unleashed any Tomlinisms in his job interviews, but we can only assume that he had prepared his verbal responses as carefully as he had prepared those notebooks. His performance so impressed the Steelers ownership and front office that they entrusted the future of their franchise to a 34-year old young man who had never been a head coach anywhere.

From the day Mike Tomlin took over as Head Coach, he has demonstrated the qualities that Dan Rooney saw in him. He has a sharp analytical eye, and is not afraid to admit his team's weaknesses and address them. And he and his staff work as hard as any in professional sports.

The NFL is dedicated to parity, and that - and the salary cap - make it difficult to assemble a team without weaknesses. If you are a successful team, you draft in the bottom third, and other teams want to sign away your players for big paychecks. Every team has areas of concern.

Mike Tomlin focuses on Steeler weaknesses like a laser, and has done a remarkable job of fixing what could be fixed.

A couple of years ago, linebacker was considered a weakness. Tomlin drafted Timmons and Woodley as his first two picks, a choice that was roundly questioned and criticized. Why did he need to draft two LB's, people asked. Tomlin and Colbert were comfortable in their judgement and secure in their jobs. That second round pick of Woodley seems to have worked out. And, in one year, linebacker went from a weakness to the team's greatest strength.

Then it was the special teams coverage unit. They were the worst in the game, giving up seven returns to the house in one season, and keeping the team out of the playoffs. Tomlin cleaned house, bringing in a new coach and new players, including a couple of special teams aces from other teams. Problem solved.

Then it was the defensive backfield. A new coach was hired, and two middle round gems were drafted. Coach Lake was able "coach up" several of the guys already on the roster, and - in one year - the DB went from being a weakness to one of the team's strengths. Only when Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown were lost to injury did the defensive backfield begin to unravel.

During all this, the offensive line has been a problem, but the opportunities for a quick fix were limited. There simply weren't any blue chip left tackles available when the Steelers' first round draft pick rolled around. And they had other needs to fill and would take the best player available. Urbik didn't work out, but Pouncey and Gilbert did. They didn't reach, and refused to mortgage the future.

This off-season was surely the most difficult for the triumvirate of Rooney, Tomlin, and Colbert. Facing salary cap hell and an aging team, they released Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, James Farrior, and Chris Hoke. No team has ever let go so much locker room gold in such a short period of time. Tomlin - the cold analyst - knew he had no choice.

But Tomlin had also prepared for the day his beloved, but aging lions could play no more. He not only had starters in waiting for all of them, but he had young leaders, as well, ready to step up. Character has always been highly prized by the Steeler front office, and Hines' pups and Aaron's pups are ready to continue the tradition. Guys like Antonio Brown, Curtis Brown, Cortez Allen, Ziggy Hood, Cam Heyward, and veteran pickup Jerricho Cotchery will provide the strength of character and leadership that they learned from Smitty, Hines, Potsie and Hokey.

"We do things differently around here," Hines told Cotchery, when Jerricho was shopping around for a team. Well, don't expect things to change that much this year. Character still counts.

Finally, after years of waiting, the stars finally aligned in this year's draft. The Steelers were ready to trade up to get David DeCastro, but several teams made questionable picks. An attempt to trade up with the Jets fell through when the Jets backed out, and yet DeCastro was still there at 24. The Immaculate Selection seemed to be divinely inspired, but the Steelers knew all along that they would get a solid offensive lineman, so they didn't have to panic after the Jets' trade didn't work out. They just didn't know it would be DeCastro.

The choices of Adams, Beachum, and the signing of Lee make it appear that Tomlin has engineered another spectacular turnaround...this time for the offensive line. Each of those three signings has a story to it, and each story deals with study and preparation. They took a big gamble on Adams, but he humbled himself and then jumped through a lot of hoops to get back on their draft board. They took a deep look into his history, and have set up a support system for him. With a team of high character, the Steelers could take a chance on Adams. There is a design in place to help him make the right choices. Beachum and Lee - a 7th rounder and a UDFA - are solid character guys who could surprise a lot of people.

The loss of so many stars from last year's team might signal rebuilding, but great teams don't rebuild. They reload.

Mike Tomlin's team was strong at the skill positions, and had plenty of leadership coming back. They were prepared to sustain the losses of their veterans. They were therefore able to address their offensive line weaknesses when the opportunity presented itself.

Other teams had to draft QB's, WR's, and glamour guys. Tomlin was able to concentrate on the trenches, and he got lucky.

Luck, you know, is the residue of design.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Sean Spence Interview

Steelers.com Live at 4 featured an exclusive interview with third-round draft pick, Sean Spence.

Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : Videos

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Post Draft State Of The Steelers Defensive Line

The 2012 NFL draft is now complete and the Pittsburgh Steelers added one defensive lineman in the form of Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu as part of their nine selections. With the draft and free agency now behind us, it is time to take the yearly look at the state of the Steelers defensive line and depth chart moving forward into the offseason workouts. If you missed our look at the Steelers offensive line following the draft, you can read that by following the link.

Nose Tackles

Casey Hampton - Hampton tore the ACL in his left knee in the AFC Wild Card game loss to the Denver Broncos Read more [...]

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Report: Steelers Had Draft Day Trade In Place With Jets To Move Up For DeCastro


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Some interesting news Monday night via Jason La Canfora on Twitter as he reports the Pittsburgh Steelers had a draft day trade in place with the New York Jets to move up to the 16th spot in the first round to select guard David DeCastro. According to a tweet by La Canfora, the Jets were willing to move back to the Steelers spot at 24 thinking they would be able to select either Bruce Irvin or Quinton Coples. Once the Seattle Seahawks selected Irvin with the 15th overall selection, the Jets reportedly backed out of the deal and went ahead and drafted Coples reports La Canfora.

It is unknown what Read more [...]

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Alameda Ta’amu becomes first Steelers draft pick to sign

The Steelers got the final day of their rookie minicamp off to a good start by announcing their first contract with a member of the 2012 draft class. Nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu, a fourth-round pick, has agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the team. The Steelers traded up to select Ta’amu with the…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Mike Adam’s Success Could Determine Max Starks’ Future with Steelers

During the 2010 season rookie Maurkice Pouncey was the Steelers top center. In 2011 Marcus Gilbert was the top right tackle following a week one injury to Willie Colon. Heading into the 2012 season it seems first round pick David DeCastro is set to continue the trend by starting at right guard as a Continue

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Mike Adams Interview

Steelers.com Live at 4 featured an exclusive interview with second-round draft pick, Mike Adams.

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Maximizing the Potential of the Steelers’ 2012 Draft Class, Part III


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When I posted Part I of this series, I don’t think it was quite what many people were expecting it to be when they clicked on the link. OR60faithfull commented "When I first read the title of the article I had pondered that you might be offering insight on how best to integrate our new influx of talent," and others may have well been thinking the same. That isn’t really my metier, though—many on this site are far more qualified to do that than I am. I was more interested in the psychological aspects, for the draftees but even more for the coaches.

One of the comments I found particularly interesting was, not surprisingly, from Ivan Cole. He said the following:

What I find missing from this Is the player’s own self concept. There is some complicated psychological territory that needs to be plowed here. I’m speaking of whether or not a player believes he can or should improve. Often players fail precisely because they believe that they are already good enough and think improvement is unnecessary (after all it got them this far) Or, because they have always been dominant to this point in their lives the possibility of improvement is beyond their ability to conceive.

When I walked on to my college football team one advantage I had relative to the scholarship players was that I knew that I had to function at a much higher level if I would have any chance at all. I was able to move past a number of my teammates who came to believe, perhaps with good reason, that they were good enough based upon past performance. In addition, once they found this was no longer true, many had a difficult time adapting to the new reality. This is not confined to athletics. Many students at schools like Tomlin’s alma mater William and Mary develop mental health issues, including suicidal impulses once they are placed in a competitive academic environment where they realize that they are no longer dominant.

Ivan is quite correct—this phenomena is by no means confined to sports. In my own field, music, the "success rate" for college grads from a music program is extremely low. Probably lower (depending on how you define "success" for a music student) than the rate of high school football players who make it into the NFL. This is partly because, unlike the NFL, a symphony musician who wins a job at age 25 may possibly continue to fill that same job, and fill it well, for the next 30 or 40 years.

Particularly in the top music schools, the kids who are accepted were the best at their high school. They made it into the All-State orchestra or band or chorus. They won local and even regional competitions. But all of a sudden they aren't the best anymore. Now they are just one among many, looking for a way to distinguish themselves from the crowd.

My elder daughter is an oboist. She is definitely talented, and for years had slid by on her innate abilities. The man who taught her in undergraduate school is a wonderful person and a great teacher. He sat her down one day and leveled with her. Scott went to undergraduate school at the Cleveland Conservatory, and the oboe studio was taught at that time by a famous player and teacher. Scott said he was clearly the least talented player in his class. He is also the only one who is working as a professional oboist. The reason? "I got to the end of my talent very early on, and I discovered I would have to substitute hard work for the lack of it." In other words, he learned from a relatively early age to apply himself and to be the first one in and the last one out of the practice room.

How far did hard work take him? He is a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony oboe section. Which contains three people. For those of you not into classical music, the Pittsburgh Symphony is as well-respected among musicians as the Pittsburgh Steelers are among football fans. The PSO is possibly more respected in Europe than it is in the US. Her teacher has obtained something only an extremely select group of oboists achieve, and he did it not by being the most gifted but with old-fashioned elbow grease.

Everyone gets to the "end of his talent" sooner or later. I think perhaps Ben Roethlisberger is realizing this. Things as natural to him as breathing are becoming less possible as age and injuries take their toll, and if he wants to cement his status as a top quarterback in the NFL and make it to Canton he is going to have to substitute harder work, more film study, and a more "cerebral" approach for some of the native ability he has relied on thus far. (I believe he would have gone even farther and been less injured at this point had he come to this understanding a bit earlier, but better late than never.)

But whatever natural gifts a player brings to the table, there is also the matter of how the coaching staff is going to view him. My speculations in Part I of this series about the Pygmalion Effect received a confirmation from this comment:

As a son of an alcoholic father and an abusive mother, I really didn’t give a crap in school and my grades proved it. All of my teachers said I had potential but nothing was done about it past the point that they expected me to do poorly. Out of the blue, I began studying and changed my grades from barely passing to top of the class. This caused more problems because now I must be cheating. After a test I was sent to the principals office and my mother was called in to explain how I cheated to get an A on this test. My desk and locker were constantly searched to find the cheat sheets I must have been using. I was moved to the desk in the front of the class so that I couldn’t copy from the desk next to me. No thought or credit was given to the fact that maybe I was studying. I definitely agree with your analogy on how the staff looks as lower draft picks. They will have a harder time proving they are the guy.

But, like this poster, one needn't accept other people's expectations as defining one's destiny. In Part II of the series I discussed some traits common to the few players who beat the odds and excelled as low-round draft picks. Those traits can probably be summed up, as PaVaSteeler did, by "strength of character."

I’ve written before, at my usual great length, about the balance between talent and effort, and won't attempt to reproduce the discussion now. The point is, for a late-round pick, this is where the rubber meets the road. So with that lengthy preamble, I would like to give Momma's charge to the 2012 class.

I welcome all of you fine gentlemen to Steeler Nation. You had the great good fortune to be chosen by the best organization, top to bottom, in the league. If you want to continue to be a Steeler for any appreciable length of time, the ball is in your court. Now is not the time to kick back and enjoy the feeling of being signed to a team. In fact, the time to do that is after you retire. Right now, this very moment, you are making the decision as to whether you want to be an NFL player or whether you will just be a statistic in my next series of posts about low-round draft failures.

You may have been blessed with every every advantage growing up, or you may have had an incredibly difficult life. You may have been the star of your high school football team, or you may have been a benchwarmer most of the time. You may be angry because you weren’t drafted higher, or you may be grateful you were drafted (or signed) at all. None of this matters now.

You can’t control where and when you were drafted, or who drafted you, or whether the coaching staff is high on you or just thought you would be a slightly-better-than-average camp body. This still leaves several critical things in your control. How hard are you going to work? What sort of attitude are you going to take? And how good a teammate are you going to be? It's up to you. Here are a few things to ponder:

Be humble and accept help. The Steelers are one of the few organizations in which the veterans will mentor the newbies, even possibly to their own detriment. There is no one who can help you more than the guy who's been doing it already. And if you succeed, remember to give back when the time comes and you are a vet welcoming a new class of youngsters.

Come to camp in the best shape of your life, work your tail off, and catch the coaches’ eye. Special Teams is where young guys get their chance. Take it. Brett Keisel started on Special Teams, and here’s what his coach had to say:

"He was a demon," remembered Mitchell. "Here's a guy who's 6-foot-6, close to 300 pounds, flying down the field and taking the heads off people. That's where he got his chance. Then when some guys left, Brett stepped in, and he never looked back."

Remember, one way or another you are catching the coaches' eyes. They aren’t only looking for stars, they are looking for the easy guys to put at the top of the list when it is time for the Turk to make his rounds.

And finally, find a way to finish your education if you didn't graduate. It's difficult for young adults paying off tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans to understand why so many athletes take their education for granted, or even fail to profit from it.

Your college scholarship was a huge blessing, whether you realize it or not, and it's worth the time and annoyance to get the benefit of it. Just this year your new QB, Ben Roethlisberger, finished his degree; possibly the best safety currently playing in the NFL, Troy Polamalu, finished his as well. And a 2010 rookie, Curtis Brown, returned to classes as soon as the season ended, although, as he tweeted, he "really didn't want to come back to school." These men are taking the long view. If Roethlisberger and Polamalu were to retire today, they will already have made more money than the vast majority of Americans could ever dream of. If they feel their education is valuable, what does that mean for you? As Curtis Brown said, "Never start something and not finish."

And now back to our regularly scheduled subject—football. Here is an example to encourage you as you set to work. One of the sixth round picks in 2010 was Antonio Brown. You may have heard of him. Not a lot of people had, in 2010. He was playing for Central Michigan University. The Steelers sent their scouts to look at another player on the team, and something about Brown caught their eye. When the draft came around, they had a hole at wide receiver and an extra pick, thanks to Santonio Holmes, so they took a flier on Brown.

The Steelers had drafted another receiver in the third round—Emmanuel Sanders. There were, as Mike Tomlin said, two dogs and one bone, and Tomlin continually played the two against each other. But by season’s end Brown had cemented his status as the returner and wowed the world with a few big catches in the postseason.

He chose not to rest on those laurels. Instead he came to training camp determined to outwork everyone. A nagging foot injury to Sanders gave Brown his chance to earn a roster spot. Last year, as a second-year receiver from a small school who was picked in the sixth round, he made NFL history as the only wide receiver to attain 1000 yards each as a receiver and a returner. He also made the Pro Bowl. Brown could, as a result, be a diva, but he's a great colleague. He and the other receivers help and support one another, something you will find throughout the team.

Even at the Pro Bowl Brown's relentless work ethic was noticable. While many of the players were phoning it in at best he was on the field for nearly every offensive snap, and then managed to persuade the defensive coaches to put him in as a DB late in the game. Okay, so Larry Fitzgerald completely toasted him, but at least he was trying.

But perhaps, you may say, this is because Antonio Brown had a loving, supportive family and good upbringing. It's a great theory, but it isn't the case. He grew up in Liberty City, one of the less salubrious neighborhoods of Miami, and as Teresa Varley, author of this article about Brown on Steelers.com said, "To get out of there in a way that involves neither a ride in the back of a police car nor a hearse is an accomplishment." He had a rather difficult early life, including a time on the streets at age 16 after his mother remarried and his stepfather didn’t want him around.

Brown had a choice. He could feel sorry for himself, he could decide the world owed him something, he could fall prey to the temptations of a young man without a home surrounded by a culture defined by drugs and gangs, or he could work his way out of Liberty City. He chose to work. He's still working.

You've made it this far, and congratulations for that. But this is not the pinnacle of your career, it's the first step. Do take the opportunity the Steelers have offered you and give it your very best shot, because it's entirely likely it's your only shot. Your odds of making it elsewhere if the Steelers cut you are even smaller. And if, despite your best efforts, you don't make it with the Steelers or anyone else, you've learned lessons which will serve you well in your life after football.

I look forward to seeing you all at training camp. I’m hoping to be able to give a glowing report about our new group of rookies. You have the luxury of a low ceiling of expectation. Steeler Nation loves rooting for an underdog. Come out and blow us all away!



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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