Category Archives: Preseason
Steelers Final cuts: T Tony Hills, CB Crezdon Butler, P Jeremy Kapinos, TE John Gilmore, DE J.Crittenton.
Surprising? Maybe a few.
Crezdon Butler - Butler had a decent preseason but he never separated himself from the pack like many thought. He did have a 95-yard pick six but apparently that wasn't enough for Coach Tomlin. Let's hope Butler clears waivers because this kid still has potential.
Tony Hills - This is a bit of a surprise to me. It's been reported that Hills came into camp in the best shape of his career and he performed well during preseason at both Tackle and Guard. He even started at RG for two games. I would rather have Hills starting at RG than Legursky.
Jeremy Kapinos - Many thought that he outperformed Daniel Sepulveda but I disagree. Sepulveda does have injury concerns.
This completes the Pittsburgh Steelers Cuts for the 2011 season. Here are the other cuts. Baraka Atkins, Mario Harvey, Chris McCoy and Mortty Ivy, defensive lineman Corbin Bryant, defensive backs Brett Greenwood, Macho Harris, Donovan Warren and Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, running backs James Johnson and John Clay, offensive linemen Colin Miller, Kyle Jolly, John Malecki, Trevis Turner and Keith Williams, wide receivers Armand Robinson, Wes Lyons and Tyler Grisham, tight end Jamie McCoy and kicker Swayze Waters.
The Atlanta Falcons will face the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. This will be the Steelers third preseason game and you'll see the starters play the 1st half and the roster will begin to finalize for those on the "bubble".
Here are a few players to pay special attention to during tonight's game:
Tony Hills - The tackle from the University of Texas in now a 4th year player and it's now or never for him. Hills came into training camp in great shape and has played inspired during practice and the last 2 preseason games. Hills can play tackle as displayed against the Philadelphia Eagles or guard. Hills has been so impressive that he appears to be the front runner for the RG position. Tonight, Hills is starting at RG.
Antonio Brown - What else can you say about the youngster? The guy has seized every opportunity in training camp and preseason. He is continuing right where he left off last year but now he may be in the process of wrestling the 3rd wide receiver spot from Emmanual Sanders. Sanders has been sidelined with a foot injury.
Cornerbacks - How will our cornerbacks Keenan Lewis, Crezdon Butler, William Gay, Donovan Warren, Bryant McFadden (questionable), and Cortez Allen (questionable) fair against the highly talented and explosive Atlanta Falcons offense.
Ramon Foster and Chris Scott - Will they allow Tony Hills to steal their spot at RG? At the start of training camp, it was Foster's job to lose. Apparently, he is starting to lose it.
Marcus Gilbert - The rookie LT from the University of Florida had a rough start to training camp reportedly showing up out of shape. He has turned things around recently and is getting his first start due to Jonathan Scott's injury (hyperextended knee). He will have a tough matchup against Atlanta's 4-time Pro Bowler, John Abraham.
According to ESPN.com reports:
The Pittsburgh Steelers and veteran cornerback Ike Taylor have reached an agreement on a four-year deal, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The Pittsburgh Steelers completed their roster cut on Friday, September 4th 2009. Unlike previous years, the Steelers surprised they're fans by a few shocking roster cuts. The only two players cut from this past April's draft include Ra'Shon "Sonny" Harris and local standout center A.Q Shipley. Although a few players including Shipley and Harris are cut, that is not an indication that the two will not become valuable members of the Pittsburgh Steelers squad even this year. However, there is no guarantee these players will clear waivers. The Steelers are very deep this year and one must assume that several other teams are eyeing the Steelers roster cuts.
And now for a list of the Steelers more surprising roster cuts:
1) Isaac Redman - The undrafted free agent from Bowie State was a standout during training camp and preseason particularly in the redzone drills. Isaac Redman was expected to make the 53 man roster and take over for short yardage and goaline duties in replacement of Gary Russell. Unexpectedly, Redman was cut in favor of another rookie, Frank "The Tank" Summers, a 5th round pick from UCLA.
2) Donovan Woods - A solid special teams player, Woods was in the progress of learning both inside and outside linebacker positions. Last year, he proved to be a proven commodity on special teams. This year, as well as last, Woods has looked like an up and coming player stuck behind the depth of the Steelers linebacking corp. With Woods' success in special teams, and his position flexibility, his cut seems a bit shocking.
3) Jason Capizzi - Another local favorite, Capizzi was cut. The 6-9, 325+ pound tackle had high hopes of making the team this year. Capizzi showed position flexibility playing both left and right tackle.
4) Carey Davis - The starting fullback and special teams ace, Davis is one of the most surprising cuts. Davis' special team's duties are expected to be replaced by Frank Summers. The signing of Summers is mostly due to him saving two roster spots. He can play fullback and be the short yardage back that the Steelers desperately need.
5) Bruce Davis - The second year outside linebacker from UCLA is one of the most disappointing cuts. He was expected to make significant strides in his second year but his play hasn't progressed to the liking of Coach Tomlin and company. Davis has also struggled on special teams which normally spells doom for a young player on a deep Steelers team. Patrick Bailey, linebacker and special teams player of sthe year, received the roster spot in replacement of Davis.
6) Anthony Madison - Another special teams standout, Madison was a victim of the two impressive rookie cornerbacks, Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett. Lewis and Burnett provide the Steelers a mechanism to get younger in the defensive backfield. Both players proved their worth during training camp and in the preseason.
The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their first preseason game 13-17 of the year last night to the Washington Redskins. The game gave us a good opportunity to see the first team for the first couple of series. However more importantly it gave the youngsters an opportunity to showcase their skills in hopes of making the 53 man roster.
On a side note, starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not play due to an injury to his achillies heel from starting left tackle, Max Starks (6-8, 340 pounds) stepping on it. Initial tests confirmed that the injury does not appear to be serious. I really worry about the health of Big Ben this year. He may get sacked 50+ times this year if Max Starks & Co. continue to perform at this level. This offensive line looks to be just as bad as last year if not worse. They're pass protection was subpar and they have not gotten any push in the run game.
The preseason record does not really matter. It's the analysis of the players, and the "sharpness" of the game. It was good to see of the rookies such as Ziggy Hood do well. As a team though, the Steelers looked flat. They didn't seem to have a sense of urgency outside of a few players, and they certainly weren't "sharp" (13 penalties). Below are some quick notes from what I've observed from the game:
Lawrence Timmons - Excels in "search and destroy" mode but I still don't think he's strong in the run game. Once these guards get their hands on him, he really struggles to fight through blocks. Everytime the Redskins ran to his side, they gained positive yardage, somtimes in huge chunks too. I do not think I have ever seen Timmons read a run play, fight through a block inside, and stop a running back at or behind the line of scrimmage. It's obvious to me that 3-4 ILB is not his ideal position during run plays at this point in his career. To be honest, if this becomes a consistent problem, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing Keyaron Fox on 1st down.
Limas Sweed - Similar to last game, Sweed dropped a very easy first down catch. However, he made a very nice sliding catch for 17 yards.
Mike Wallace - The "speedster" continues to impress. He has good hands and isn't afraid to go across the middle.
Rashard Mendenhall - Did not play with the first team offense at all. When given the opportunity, he did well averaging 5.2 yards a carry (5 carries for 26 yards). He looks a little hesitant out there though.
Offensive Line - In defense of the OL, they were down 2 starters if you consider Darnell Stapleton a starter. Overall, they played poorly. On the first play of the game, Max Starks almost got Charlie Batch killed. The DE ran right around Starks like he wasn't even there. I swear, a lawn chair would have done a better job blocking than Starks did on that particular play. They hardly gave Batch any time to throw and Batch being very immobile doesn't help matters. Wow, we are very lucky to have Big Ben as our quarterback especially behind this OL. The OL also got very little push in the run game.
Daniel Sepulveda - It's great to have a solid punter again. He is really going to help out our defense (not like they need much help). Sepulveda had 5 punts averagine 47.8 yards.
Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes - Both had 2 very nice catches for 1st downs. Hines' was spectacular in a leaping grab on a post pattern with LaRon Landry on the coverage.
Dennis Dixon - 8/16 for 68 yards. He also had a few nice runs. He definitely has his hot and cold streaks. At this moment, I would not feel comfortable with him as our #2 QB.
Joe Burnett - Allowed the ball to be stripped on a punt return. He may have a hard time making the 53 man roster if he doesn't progress with special teams. He needs to protect the ball better.
Ziggy Hood - Another strong performance for the first rounder with 4 tackles and 2 sacks. I see him getting immediately involved in the rotation to keep our starters fresh. On a side note, he is very quick for a big man.
Ra'Shon Harris - Another rookie with a strong performance. Seems to hold his ground well and gets a little push into the backfield. If Harris can make the 53 man roster, this would be a great injection of youth to the Steelers defensive line. Could he possibly progress to our future NT?
Troy Polamalu - In typical Troy fashion, he looks like he's in mid season form
William Gay - Looks solid both in coverage and run support. I don't think we'll miss McFadden much as a starter. I just hope one of the young guys such as Burnett or Wallace step up to provide added depth to our secondary.
Keyaron Fox - Overall, solid ILB. Last night, he was particularly strong in run defense and led the team with 5 tackles. Very good to have a quality backup at ILB.
Other Backup LB's - Arnold Harrison and Donovan Woods looked solid. Some of our backups could probably start on other teams which is a good problem to have. I'm also seeing Bruce Davis progress as well.
Stefan Logan - Did very well in both kick and punt returns. Averaged 40 yards a kick return (60 yarder in the 3rd quarter).
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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.
It's been rumored that Mahan has been secretly demanding a trade after losing the starting center position 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 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.
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?
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.
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.