Daily Archives: May 13, 2012
It is extremely tough not to root for wide receiver Limas Sweed, who was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft. The Steelers gave the 6 foot, 4 inch receiver out of Texas every opportunity to shake his demons since they drafted him, but they finally were forced to part ways with him last season as he had problems staying on the field and more importantly holding onto the football.
Sweed has had his tires kicked by a few teams following his release by the Steelers, and the latest team to kick those tires was the New York Giants, who invited Sweed Read more [...]
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers only managed to sign one rookie to his first NFL contract yesterday and it was their final pick OG Kelvin Beachum out of SMU. Art Rooney II said after last season that Ben Roethlisberger’s protection was Priority No. 1 so the Steelers didn’t mess around in the draft and Beachum became the third offensive linemen they selected with their nine picks.
Beachum’s your typical seventh-round pick; he was a depth pick, and since the Steelers desperately needed healthy offensive linemen last year, he looks like the right choice. And if he can make the team, he’ll be a Steeler for the next four years now that he’s signed his contract.
The kid started 52 games for SMU – you know, the team that beat Pitt in the Compass Bowl – so it looks like he should have the durability to stay healthy, and since he played tackle in college and was drafted as a guard, his versatility was probably pretty attractive too.
He’ll have his work cut out for him though just to make the team out of training camp with all of the talent the Steelers have acquired for the line. Unless they decide to go with 10 linemen to start the year, which may not be a terrible idea considering what happened to the line last year, Beachum will probably be a practice squad lineman his first year.
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
Overall I am projecting six new starters for the Steelers next season. The offensive line was probably the toughest group to predict due to the uncertainty surrounding just about every spot but center Maurkice Puncey's. Apart from the offensive line, the main changes in the Steelers lineups will be the absences of Aaron Smith, James Farrior, and Hines Ward, who were all released this offseason to free up cap space. As always, the Steelers have stayed away from any big name free agent signings this offseason, preferring to build through the draft.
Here is my look at the projected starters for the Pittsburgh Steelers for week 1 of the upcoming NFL season.
Quarterback - Ben Roethlisberger: Out of all the people that liked what the Steelers did in the draft, no one liked it as much as Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers need Big Ben to stay healthy down the stretch this season or else they’ll likely face another early exit in the playoffs.
Running Back - Isaac Redm...
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
Quarterback – Ben Roethlisberger: Out of all the people that liked what the Steelers did in the draft, no one liked it as much as Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers need Big Ben to stay healthy down the stretch this season or else they’ll likely face another early exit in the playoffs.
Running Back – Isaac Redman: With Rashard Mendenhall likely out for at least the majority of the 2012 season, Isaac Redman will have to carry the load. Redman is a bruising power back with a tendency to get north and south with more urgency than Mendenhall. While he may lack the speed and lateral quickness of Mendenhall, Redman’s production last season speaks for itself. Redman rushed for 479 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Mendenhall only averaged 4.1 yards per carry, so it remains to be seen just how much the Steelers are losing next year without him. Don’t get me wrong, I think Mendenhall is a great running back. However, the promise Redman showed in games like the playoff game last season in which he rushed for 121 yards on just 17 carries should have Steelers fans excited.
Left Tackle – Marcus Gilbert: The Steelers announced that Marcus Gilbert will be making the transition to left tackle back in mid-February. Although Mike Adams also projects as more of a left tackle than a right tackle, it seems unlikely that Gilbert would stay at right tackle after such an announcement has been made. Even if Mike Adams is the left tackle of the future, he needs to get much stronger in the upper-body before he can assume the role of a starting NFL left tackle. It’s a longshot that he will be ready by week 1. Until then, it seems likely that Gilbert will be asked to hold down Roethlisberger’s blind side. After Willie Colon went down in week one of last season, Gilbert took over at right tackle and stayed there for the remainder of the season. He showed growing pains, but improved significantly as the season went on. Following a successful rookie year, it appears as though Gilbert has a bright future on the Steelers offensive line.
Left Guard – Ramon Foster: Foster had a pretty good season at right guard last season. Though some have speculated that Willie Colon will move inside and thereby bump Foster out of the starting lineup, I don’t expect such a move to take place. Fans have been calling for Colon to be moved to guard for years now and it simply hasn’t happened. Foster has some holes in his game, but he performed relatively well last season overall. While he is above average in pass protection, he leaves a little to be desired in the running game. Foster also needs to improve his technique as a trapper.
Center – Maurkice Pouncey: If there is any such thing as a sure thing on the perpetually shifting and banged-up Steelers offensive line, then it’s that Maurkice Pouncey will be breaking the huddle in 2012. About to enter his third season, Pouncey is already a two-time Pro Bowler. The only thing that has held Pouncey back in his first two NFL seasons has been a nagging left ankle injury, but it’s been surgically repaired this offseason and Pouncey should be close to 100% heading into training camp. Pouncey is very good with line calls and should have no problem adjusting to the new blocking schemes Todd Haley will incorporate. Expect another Pro Bowl year out of the Steelers leader on the offensive line.
Right Guard – David DeCastro: When you look at the current guards on the Steelers roster, it is very hard to imagine that DeCastro will not be a starter next season. The selection of DeCastro in the first round was an extremely popular pick and for obvious reasons. With DeCastro, who was the best guard in the draft, the Steelers instantly upgraded a former weakness of their roster, turning it into a possible strength. DeCastro played right guard in college and I would expect the Steelers to leave him there, at least initially. He is quick off the ball, has very good upper body strength, possesses very good balance and body control for his size, and has very good athleticism. DeCastro is also an excellent blocker in space and is probably at his best when he’s pulling. He’s a good pass protector as well. There are no major weaknesses in DeCastro’s game, and it would be a shocker if he was a disappointment at the pro level. Above all else, DeCastro should provide some of the nastiness that has been missing on the Steelers offensive line for the past few seasons. He could be the next Alan Faneca.
Right Tackle – Willie Colon: Colon has missed the majority of the past two seasons to injury. Reports are that he is now 100% recovered from the triceps injury he sustained in week 1 last season against the Ravens. Unless Mike Adams is ready to start, Colon will undoubtedly be the starting right tackle to start the year. Before being plagued by injuries Colon excelled at right tackle, especially in pass protection.
Tight End – Heath Miller: Miller set a career high in 2011 with 12.4 yards per reception. If there’s one player on offense that the Steelers always know what they’re going to get out of, it’s Heath Miller. Due to his blocking ability and willingness to give up his body for the team, Miller is one of the best tight ends in football. It doesn’t matter what the statistics say.
Wide Receiver – Mike Wallace: Mike Wallace wants a long-term deal, and Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert has made it pretty clear through both his actions and statements this offseason that locking Wallace up for the long-term is the Steelers number one priority of the offseason. The problem appears to be that Wallace is simply asking for too much money. The Steelers have a contract value in mind that they’re not willing to stray too far from, and Wallace is likely asking to become one of the highest paid receivers in football. As good as Wallace is, the numbers clearly indicate that he slipped significantly towards the end of last season. This suggests that if defenses scheme hard enough to slow him down, they can be successful. If Wallace finished last season as strong as he started it, then I would be willing to bet that he would be already signed to a long-term deal; there would be less uncertainty over whether or not Wallace is truly an elite receiver or just an extremely talented vertical threat. Wallace wants to be paid like the player he was in the first half of the season, but the Steelers don’t seem convinced enough to budge. Playing hardball with Wallace could turn out to be a deadly game however if Wallace holds out into the season and grows sour towards the organization. It’s critical that the Steelers lock Wallace up sooner rather than later and get him in camp to learn Todd Haley’s new offense.
Wide Reciever – Antonio Brown: 2011 was a breakout year for Brown; he was named MVP by the team and also became the first player in NFL history with at least 1000 receiving yards and 1000 return yards in the same season. In 2012, defenses will no longer be sleeping on Brown. His production next season will show how good he really is, and also the degree to which his breakout year came about as a result of opposing defenses focusing on slowing Mike Wallace down. My expectation is that Brown has another big season ahead of him. He especially excels in getting yards after the catch, which is always a tough thing for defenses to take away even with added attention.
Wide Reciever – Emmanuel Sanders: It will be interesting to see what types of formations Todd Haley will use most frequently in Pittsburgh. Just based on the makeup of the Steelers roster, it would appear that Haley would try to employ a lot of three-wide receiver sets to get Emmanuel Sanders on the field more often. The Steelers lack a true fullback and are somewhat limited at the backup tight tend spot as well. In the past Haley has used fullbacks, but David Johnson is more of an H-Back type and leaves a lot to be desired whether employed at tight end or fullback. It would be my guess that Emmanuel Sanders will see the field more often next season than Johnson or backup tight end Leonard Pope, so I am listing him as a projected starter. After Antonio Brown’s breakout season in 2011, it’s easy to forget that Emmanuel Sanders showed more potential than Brown as a rookie. What happened? Ever since the Super Bowl loss to the Packers, Sanders has been suffering from a nagging foot injury that he never truly recovered from. He was kept out of five games last season, and it was clear from watching him on the field that he was never truly 100% healthy as he lacked burst coming in and out of cuts. After missing both training camp and the preseason, Sanders was never really able to get his timing down with Roethlisberger. None of this takes away from the impressive combination of size and speed that Sanders offers, exemplified by the fact that Rex Ryan switched Darrelle Revis off of Mike Wallace and onto Sanders in a regular season matchup in 2010. 2012 could be the breakout season for Sanders that the 2011 season was for Brown. If this is the case, the Steelers will have an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position.
Left Defensive End – Ziggy Hood: With Aaron Smith officially retired and gone for good, it’s time for Ziggy Hood to finally step in and assume a starting role at defensive end. Hood was drafted with the 32nd pick in 2009. After originally serving as a rotational backup, Hood filled in for Smith in both 2010 and 2011 after the veteran was placed on injured reserve. Smith only played in 16 games during the last three years of his career, giving Hood the opportunity to learn the scheme and grow as a player. Hood may never turn out be the player Smith was, but he has made enough plays in the first few years of his career to indicate that he could be a solid starter for a long time in Pittsburgh.
Nose Tackle – Casey Hampton: It remains to be seen whether or not Hampton will be able play at the start of the season. Coming off of ACL surgery, Hampton is a candidate to start the season on the PUP list. If he’s not ready, expect either fourth round pick Alamedu Ta’amu or Cameron Heyward to fill in until Hampton is ready to return. Ta’amu is more of a true nose tackle, but Heyward was the Steelers first-round pick in 2011 and gained some valuable experience last season. In all likelihood it would be Ziggy Hood bumping down from end to nose if Hampton cannot go in week 1. Hood would be replaced by Heyward at end.
Right Defensive End – Brett Keisel: Keisel has really developed during the last few seasons as a leader of the Steelers defense. He followed up his Pro Bowl campaign of 2010 with a solid season in 2011 in which he recorded 48 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 passes defensed, and 2 forced fumbles. He also led the team with 37 quarterback pressures. With Aaron Smith gone and Casey Hampton coming off of a torn ACL, the Steelers will now need “the beard” more than ever.
Left Outside Linebacker – LaMarr Woodley: The Steelers really need Woodley and Harrison to each stay healthy next season. Their pass rush just isn’t the same when either of them is out of the lineup. They only started in 4 games together last season. In 9 starts last year, Woodley still had a very productive year with 9 sacks. Although he tried to return many times, Woodley was never the same after he suffered a hamstring injury against New England in week 9.
Left Inside Linebacker – Larry Foote: Foote is expected to be given the enormous task of attempting to replace the giant void in the middle of the Steelers defense left by James Farrior. Although he’s not James Farrior, Foote is serviceable and experienced. He started on both Steelers Super Bowl teams last decade before being replaced by Lawrence Timmons. Since Foote has been primarily used on special teams since the Steelers resigned him in in 2010, it’s difficult to tell how much of a drop off Foote will be at inside linebacker. Farrior was beginning to show signs of age catching up to him in 2011 as he was a liability at times in coverage. What’s really being left behind by Farrior is a void in leadership. Sylvester Stevenson and rookie Sean Spence will push Foote in training camp, but I’d be surprised if the veteran didn’t emerge with the starting job.
Right Inside Linebacker – Lawrence Timmons: Timmons is one of the more underappreciated players on the Steelers defense. He can do everything Dick Lebaeu asks him to do as a player. Gifted with great speed for an inside linebacker, Timmons has great range in coverage and plays sideline to sideline against the run. For such a gifted athlete, Timmons does leave a little to be desired as a pass rusher. Regardless of this minor deficiency, Timmons has turned out to be everything the Steelers hoped for when they selected him in the first round in 2007. If he can surpass Ryan Clark for the team lead in tackles next season, Timmons will have taken the next step towards becoming an elite linebacker.
Right Outside Linebacker – James Harrison: Though Harrison will turn 34 this May, he has less wear and tear on his body than most players his age due to the fact that his NFL career really didn’t start until 2004. Since then, Harrison has been arguably the best pass rushing outside linebacker in the entire league. Harrison missed 4 games last season with a broken orbital bone, but was still productive with 9 sacks. With Woodley back alongside him next season, I expect Harrison to have a better season next year.
Left Cornerback – Ike Taylor: Though he
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
Taylor tore a pectoral muscle while working out, and Browns head coach Pat Shurmur said the timetable of his return is "more months than weeks."
The worst part of these injuries, outside the damaging blow to the defenses of their respective teams, is they're random; they can happen to anyone. It makes this time of the year volatile and dangerous.
A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training shows, within collegiate sports, football has having the highest rate of injury per athlete-exposure (A-E), meaning combining games and practices. During the fall season, football has a 35.9 injuries per 1,000 A-E, considerably higher than any other sport. In the off-season, football has 9.8 injuries per 1,000 A-E.
While the study shows injuries are far more likely to happen in games than practice in all sports, the amount of injuries within football practices is substantially higher than any other sport.
The Steelers lost RT Willie Colon to an Achilles injury in May of 2010. It's the same area of injury as Suggs, and Eagles LT Jason Peters, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in April. Ditto for Buccaneers DE Da'Quan Bowers.
Taylor's injury occurred while lifting weights. His is the same injury that took down Browns LB D'Qwell Jackson in 2009. Conditioning is a vital part of the off-season, and players have to do it, but sometimes it just feels like surviving the offseason is just as tough as making it through the year relatively unscathed.
Be safe, Steelers linemen. Stretch and use a spotter.
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
The Pittsburgh Steelers are making quick work of signing their draft choices. Yesterday the team reached an agreement with their fourth seventh round selection SMU offensive tackle / offensive guard Kelvin Beachum. With his signing, the Steelers only have two member’s of their draft class left to sign, first round pick Stanford offensive guard David DeCastro and third round selection Sean Spence.
Beachum was a left tackle at SMU, and playing that position in the wide open spread attack cries pass blocker, and the 6-3, 304 pounder has demonstrated an aptitude to protect the blindside. A thick athlete, he has a natural bend to anchor in the pass game and has enough quickness and lateral agility to mirror. He plays through the whistle and is a second-level type guy.
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
The 2012 draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers is a few weeks behind us now. I have already posted about the state of the offensive and defensive line positions following the draft and today we will look at the state of the running back depth chart following the draft.
Rashard Mendenhall - Mendenhall is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is likely to start the 2012 season on the PUP list as he continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered in the 2011 season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Should Mendenhall indeed start the season on the PUP list he will miss the first six games Read more [...]
Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers
The 2012 NFL Draft was considered a success for the Pittsburgh Steelers by experts and fans alike. However, that is all just meaningless speculation. The real winners of the draft will not be determined for at least three years.
However, as fans, we still want to analyze and predict what our draft picks will do. The Steelers had nine draft picks, one in the first five rounds, and four in the seventh. Obviously, as you get later and later into the draft, the expectations drop. If a seventh round pick makes the team, that can be considered a successful pick. However, a first round pick is supposed to become a Pro Bowl caliber player. So, what will this year's draft picks do? Here is what I think
David DeCastro, offensive guard
DeCastro came into the draft as the most highly touted guard since Alan Faneca and Steve Hutchinson. Faneca was drafted 26th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hutchinson was drafted 17th overall by the Seattle Seahawks. Of course, DeCastro was drafted 24th overall by the Steelers. Mike Tomlin and staff are hoping DeCastro becomes Alan Faneca. The question is, will he? In my opinion, he will. DeCastro has all the tools to become a dominant guard for a decade or more and could already be a top five guard in the NFL. I believe that as a rookie, he will start at left guard for 16 games and within three years, he will be an All Pro player. By the time he retires, I think he will have multiple All Pro selections and be an eventual Hall of Famer. Those are very high expectations but when you are compared to legends like Alan Faneca and Steve Hutchinson in the pre-draft proces, there is not much room for being average or even just being a good NFL player.
Mike Adams, offensive tackle
Mike Adams was drafted 56th overall for numerous reasons. Despite having first round talent, Adams was involved in the Ohio State scandal as well as failing numerous drug tests. He also was not coached well at Ohio State. Despite poor coaching and a tough year for Ohio State, Adams finished last year with a 91.2% blocking efficiency (higher then Kevin Zeitler at 90.6% but well below David DeCastro at 96%). Adams has all the tools to be a fantastic LT for years to come but don't expect him to win the job in his rookie year. As a rookie, I believe Adams will be the top backup at both LT and RT. By year three, I think Adams will be our starting LT. I expect Adams to become one of the better LTs in the NFL and make a few Pro Bowls.
Sean Spence, linebacker
Sean Spence is an incredibly talented player who was picked in the third round. He fell in the draft because of height concerns (he is barely 5'11"). However, at Miami, admist scandal and bad on field results, all Sean Spence did was produce. Spence is a great athlete with incredible instincts. However, don't expect him to start anywhere in the near future. Timmons is solidified as the starting Mack and either Sylvester or Foote will start at the Buck. However, that does not mean that Spence won't contribute. I expect Spence to step in and play immediately, being a nickel linebacker and playing in passing situations. I see him contributing on special teams as well. I don't think Spence will ever be a starter but I think he will fill a huge role in our defense, being a linebacker that can man up on any running back, tight end, and even some slot wide receivers.
Alameda Ta'amu, nose tackle
Ta'amu is a massive man (weighing anywhere between 330 and 400 pounds depending on the day) with incredible strength. However, he was wildly inconsistent at Washington and was dominated when playing David DeCastro and had trouble with Baylor's Phillip Blake. However, a lot of this was due to poor technique and being out of shape. He is now weighing below 340 pounds and John Mitchell will surely teach him the proper techinques of a 3-4 NT. So, what should we expect from Ta'amu? Long term, he should become the Steelers starter. Whether that is in 2013 or 2014, depends on how Steve McLendon continues to develop. This year, Ta'amu will be the third NT and might play sparingly or a lot depending on injuries. I expect Ta'amu to eventually be our starting NT and be a very good one. He has tons of potential and with a year or two of coaching from Dick Lebau and John Mitchell, he should become a star.
Chris Rainey, running back/wide receiver/kick returner
Chris Rainey is a jack of all trades. He can play running back and wide receiver on offense and is also a scary kick returner. However, his most under-appreciated talent is his ability to block punts. Last year at Florida, he blocked 6 punts. If he can get anywhere close to that number for the Steelers, he will already be a great pick. Rainey has limitations (height and weight) but because of his speed and pass catching abilities, he will contribute. As a rookie, I am expecting Rainey to be our starting punt returner and also get 10 to 15 touches a game on the offensive end. Whether that is through handoffs, screens, or deep routes will depend on the team we are playing but he should be a weapon that Todd Haley properly utilizes. Eventually, I can see Rainey become a 2000+ all purpose yards per season type of player.
Toney Clemons, wide receiver
Clemons was a guy who I did not know much about before we picked him but since then, I have done a lot of research and loved what I found. Clemons has a rare combination of size and speed and unlike Limas Sweed, he is actually able to catch a pass. As a rookie, I see Clemons being the 5th WR and also being a kick returner and special teams gunner. However, I eventually see him becoming a major contributor in the Steelers offense. If Mike Wallace is not signed long term, I could see Clemons being the man who picks up the slack. I think Clemons could eventually be a 750 yard and 7TD per year guy. The Steelers found themselves a keeper in Clemons.
David Paulson, tight end
Paulson is an undersized tight end who is also not a great athlete. However, what he does have is incredible hands. Anything in his area he will come down with. However, Paulson faces a major problem. The Steelers currently have veteran tight ends (Miller, Pope, Johnson) along with other young tight end prospects on the roster (Lyons, Saunders). If Paulson wants to make the roster, he will have to have an incredible pre-season. He should be a practice squad guy in his first one to two years but eventually he could be a decent #2 tight end for us. His ceiling is that of a #2 tight end but if he reaches his potential he could be a 500 yard and 5TD per season guy.
Terrence Frederick, cornerback
Frederick is an undresized corner from Texas A&M. He is a zone corner (perfect for the Steeler scheme) and is a great tackler. At first, I was very down on the pick because of his perceived lack of athleticism. However, SteelCage changed my mind on him and I now think he could be a nickel corner. As a rookie, I see him making the roster as our 5th and final corner if he can play special teams. If not, a place on the practice squad seems about right. Eventually, I see him as our starting nickel corner and a big contributor to our team
Kelvin Beachum, offensive tackle/offensive guard
Beachum is a do it all linemen with great experience. He started all 52 games of his career at SMU at left tackle but in the NFL, he seems like a backup at numerous positions. He reminds me of a younger and cheaper version of Trai Essex. As a rookie, I expect him to be on the practice squad to gain strength unless he can beat out Greg Warren for the long snapping job. Eventually, I see him being Trai Essex. A guy who you don't want starting but you have full confidence in coming in when injuries occur at any position on the offensive line.
As a whole, this is the Steelers best draft class in a long time. Every player has the ability to contribute in their own way and that is all you can ask for. Three of the first four picks could become starters at key positions for the Steelers and have All Pro Potential. They got weapons for the offense and added depth at linebacker and corner. This class is filled with character risks but it could become the best Steelers draft class since 1974.
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
Wed, 09 May 2012 17:23:06
The Steelers and second-round pick Mike Adams of Ohio State agreed to a four-year contract Tuesday.
Adams, a 6-foot-7, 323-pound offensive lineman, is the fourth of nine picks the Steelers have come to terms with since the draft, joining receiver Toney Clemons, nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu and running back Chris Rainey.
Clemons also came to terms on a deal yesterday.
Adams had been graded as a first-round pick but dropped to the second round because of concerns over his character....
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Steelers.com is featuring Ask The Steelers, an opportunity for fans to email their questions for a select Steelers player to answer. We will have six different players taking the questions over the...
Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : News