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Oviedo
06-09-2008, 09:38 AM
If Baker really emerges then our receivers and Tight Ends could be among the best in the league.

Steelers' Baker plots route to roster
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, June 9, 2008

Buzz up!


The ring may have been from just the Outback Bowl, but Dallas Baker fell in love with it, especially since his last name and jersey number had been engraved in it.
He wore it everywhere and took it off only when necessary, such as the time he went for a dip while he and his family were celebrating the Fourth of July at the beach in their hometown of New Smyrna, Fla. When he got out of the water, the ring was nowhere to be found, and Baker all but enlisted the beach patrol in an unsuccessful recovery effort.

"I was depressed for a while, because that ring meant everything to me," the former University of Florida standout said. "I ended up getting a letter when I went back to school for two-a-days, and a guy from Atlanta was saying he found my ring, and he would ship it to me."

The Steelers are hoping that Baker turns out to be every bit the found treasure as his cherished ring.

After spending his rookie season on the Steelers' practice squad, Baker will push for a roster spot and try to add depth to a wide receiving corps that features returning starters Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes and welcomes highly touted newcomer Limas Sweed.
The selection of Sweed in the second round of the NFL Draft in late April appeared to give the Steelers the tall receiver they have lacked since Plaxico Burress' departure following the 2004 season, but Baker should not be overlooked.

The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Baker impressed Steelers coaches with the catches he made on a regular basis during practice last season, and his knowledge of the offense has since grown.

"What a difference a year makes," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's confident. He has an understanding of what we ask him to do."

One thing that has the Steelers particularly excited about Baker, who is admittedly quiet and laid back: He needs time before feeling comfortable (and thriving) in new environments.

That proved to be the case at Florida, where he didn't break out until his fourth year in the program. Baker starred as a fifth-year senior, catching 60 passes for 920 yards and 10 touchdowns while helping the Gators win the national championship.

But despite good size and favorable bloodlines (his uncle is former NFL wide receiver Wes Chandler), Baker lasted until the seventh round of the 2007 Draft.

He caught just one pass in five preseason games last season, but he opened eyes after making the Steelers' practice squad. However, as Tomlin would be the first to say, making plays in practice is one thing; making them in games is quite another.

"He's taken giant steps, and I'm really proud of (how far) he's come," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "He's been doing great in the slot."

Baker said he hasn't missed an offseason practice or a conditioning session - he has added five pounds to his lanky frame -- and he has spent extra time watching film with wide receivers coach Randy Fichtner.

"I think I made a little progress, but I know I have a long way to go," Baker said. "I've got to keep getting better and make sure I understand what's going on because that way you play faster."

SteelerNation1
06-09-2008, 09:43 AM
Hopefully he becomes what Colbert has sorely lacked...a late round gem. IMO, 2009 will be his chance to play a lot.

Oviedo
06-09-2008, 10:03 AM
Hopefully he becomes what Colbert has sorely lacked...a late round gem. IMO, 2009 will be his chance to play a lot.

I think the last two post Cowher drafts have shown more potential in the later rounds than previously. There are a number of players who are still affiliated with the team who look like they may be able to contribute versus getting cut in camp and done.

Shawn
06-09-2008, 10:25 AM
Can you imagine Ward and Baker in slot...Holmes and Sweed outside and Mendy coming out of the backfield. :shock:

What about TE's with Spaeth, Miller, Ward, Limas, and Holmes? How can you cover that much size?

What about...ehhh well the possibilities are endless. If Baker and Sweed work out our O could be as good or better than the Pats. Yes, I said it...better than the Pats.

Oviedo
06-09-2008, 10:33 AM
Can you imagine Ward and Baker in slot...Holmes and Sweed outside and Mendy coming out of the backfield. :shock:

What about TE's with Spaeth, Miller, Ward, Limas, and Holmes? How can you cover that much size?

What about...ehhh well the possibilities are endless. If Baker and Sweed work out our O could be as good or better than the Pats. Yes, I said it...better than the Pats.


What about TE's with Spaeth, Miller, Ward, Limas, and Holmes? How can you cover that much size?

This is the alignment that gets me the most excited. Put these 5 out there and have Ben focus on getting the ball to the TEs and this would be tough to stop. All these players are excellent receivers.

No LB or safety will have the size to cover Miller and Spaeth which will open lots of routes for the other three.

SteelerNation1
06-09-2008, 10:37 AM
Hopefully he becomes what Colbert has sorely lacked...a late round gem. IMO, 2009 will be his chance to play a lot.

I think the last two post Cowher drafts have shown more potential in the later rounds than previously. There are a number of players who are still affiliated with the team who look like they may be able to contribute versus getting cut in camp and done.
I hope you're right. I like Baker, Sepulveda, and Gay from 07. If Kemo steps up this year that will be big. Although he was an 05 or 06 guy I think.

SteelerNation1
06-09-2008, 10:38 AM
Can you imagine Ward and Baker in slot...Holmes and Sweed outside and Mendy coming out of the backfield. :shock:

What about TE's with Spaeth, Miller, Ward, Limas, and Holmes? How can you cover that much size?

What about...ehhh well the possibilities are endless. If Baker and Sweed work out our O could be as good or better than the Pats. Yes, I said it...better than the Pats.


What about TE's with Spaeth, Miller, Ward, Limas, and Holmes? How can you cover that much size?

This is the alignment that gets me the most excited. Put these 5 out there and have Ben focus on getting the ball to the TEs and this would be tough to stop. All these players are excellent receivers.

No LB or safety will have the size to cover Miller and Spaeth which will open lots of routes for the other three.
Good points O. I think this is a Ben issue though. He needs to focus on the TE's and throw it when they break open. Too often he pumps, rolls one way or the other and goes for a "big" play rather than taking the check down.

SteelHoss
06-09-2008, 11:51 AM
Can you imagine Ward and Baker in slot...Holmes and Sweed outside and Mendy coming out of the backfield. :shock:

What about TE's with Spaeth, Miller, Ward, Limas, and Holmes? How can you cover that much size?

What about...ehhh well the possibilities are endless. If Baker and Sweed work out our O could be as good or better than the Pats. Yes, I said it...better than the Pats.


What about TE's with Spaeth, Miller, Ward, Limas, and Holmes? How can you cover that much size?

This is the alignment that gets me the most excited. Put these 5 out there and have Ben focus on getting the ball to the TEs and this would be tough to stop. All these players are excellent receivers.

No LB or safety will have the size to cover Miller and Spaeth which will open lots of routes for the other three.
Good points O. I think this is a Ben issue though. He needs to focus on the TE's and throw it when they break open. Too often he pumps, rolls one way or the other and goes for a "big" play rather than taking the check down.

I'm with you. Take the singles and doubles to move down the field and take some time off the clock. This only helps to set up the triples and home runs. The opposing D has no chance. It kind of mirrors that team that I have an extreme dislike for. :Clap

AngryAsian
06-10-2008, 01:12 AM
Can you imagine Ward and Baker in slot...Holmes and Sweed outside and Mendy coming out of the backfield. :shock:

What about TE's with Spaeth, Miller, Ward, Limas, and Holmes? How can you cover that much size?

What about...ehhh well the possibilities are endless. If Baker and Sweed work out our O could be as good or better than the Pats. Yes, I said it...better than the Pats.


What about TE's with Spaeth, Miller, Ward, Limas, and Holmes? How can you cover that much size?

This is the alignment that gets me the most excited. Put these 5 out there and have Ben focus on getting the ball to the TEs and this would be tough to stop. All these players are excellent receivers.

No LB or safety will have the size to cover Miller and Spaeth which will open lots of routes for the other three.


If anyone thinks that Ben's numbers this upcoming season will not explode this year is seriously on crack. The two areas that were deficient in our passing game last year were the redzone efficiency and passes out in the flat to a competent pass catching RB.... I think both these areas are addressed. The sickness will be the redwoods playing WR and TE, no defense could hope to cover that many targets.

BIG FAN
06-10-2008, 01:23 AM
As it stands, it is just as Oviedo stated, "If Baker really emerges.."
I only hope it's not too big of an if. I would love it to see this guy crack the line up, I'm just not sold yet.

Oviedo
06-10-2008, 08:07 AM
As it stands, it is just as Oviedo stated, "If Baker really emerges.."
I only hope it's not too big of an if. I would love it to see this guy crack the line up, I'm just not sold yet.

So far he seems to be showing he is getting better. That is encouraging. The reality is whoever your #5 receiver turns out to be he won't likely be active on game day unless he brings something to Special Teams.

Shawn
06-10-2008, 10:18 AM
Honestly...I just want Baker to make this team. I don't see anyway he gets serious playing time this season. I would love for it to happen but not this season. I think Washingtons experience will give him the slight edge at the #4. But, in red zone situations you might very well see a little Baker action. That could be very exciting.

MeetJoeGreene
06-10-2008, 12:11 PM
Honestly...I just want Baker to make this team. I don't see anyway he gets serious playing time this season. I would love for it to happen but not this season. I think Washingtons experience will give him the slight edge at the #4. But, in red zone situations you might very well see a little Baker action. That could be very exciting.

IF Nate is a number 4 (vs number 3), then I have a question and observation.

First the question: Will he be better as a 4 than as a 3 due to the fact that he could be covered by a "lesser" DB consistently -- this would enable his "freakish" athletic ability to shine and for him to get more open.

The observation is that if the answer to the above question is YES, will it make any difference if he drops passes.

AngryAsian
06-10-2008, 03:37 PM
IF Nate is a number 4 (vs number 3), then I have a question and observation.

First the question: Will he be better as a 4 than as a 3 due to the fact that he could be covered by a "lesser" DB consistently -- this would enable his "freakish" athletic ability to shine and for him to get more open.

The observation is that if the answer to the above question is YES, will it make any difference if he drops passes.


I have always been puzzled by the above observations made by the fans. I have not seen this from Nate and I doubt I will. Maybe my vision isn't what it used to be, but I'd have to disagree with the Steeler Nation masses on this perception.

Oviedo
06-10-2008, 03:44 PM
IF Nate is a number 4 (vs number 3), then I have a question and observation.

First the question: Will he be better as a 4 than as a 3 due to the fact that he could be covered by a "lesser" DB consistently -- this would enable his "freakish" athletic ability to shine and for him to get more open.

The observation is that if the answer to the above question is YES, will it make any difference if he drops passes.


I have always been puzzled by the above observations made by the fans. I have not seen this from Nate and I doubt I will. Maybe my vision isn't what it used to be, but I'd have to disagree with the Steeler Nation masses on this perception.

I believe it was Ben who once said that Nate had "freakish" athletic ability. I have often wondered if Washington is an FOB (Friend of Ben) and it has given him a longer look than he might have really earned.

Steelworth
06-10-2008, 07:59 PM
I have always been puzzled by the above observations made by the fans. I have not seen this from Nate and I doubt I will. Maybe my vision isn't what it used to be, but I'd have to disagree with the Steeler Nation masses on this perception.

I think it's his ridiculous vertical jump that's given him that label of freakish athletic ability, or whatever. But where's that gotten him so far, right?

Steel Life
06-10-2008, 11:01 PM
Jesus guys...so eager to throw Nate under the bus when all he's done is produce. What has Baker done to deserve all this praise & hope?...Nothing yet except stand 6'3". How about Sweed?...Nothing yet either. Yet here some of you are, ready to hand over spots 3 & 4 to two unproven WRs. Nate has earned his spot & despite what we think, management believes he's earned the contract too. I'm sure Nate's trying to get better, just like Baker, just like Sweed, just like Santonio & Hines - so can we stop acting like he's useless? Maybe his future does ultimately lie elsewhere with the addition of Sweed & his cap number, but as long as he's on the team I'll root for him.

AngryAsian
06-11-2008, 12:09 AM
Jesus guys...so eager to throw Nate under the bus when all he's done is produce. What has Baker done to deserve all this praise & hope?...Nothing yet except stand 6'3". How about Sweed?...Nothing yet either. Yet here some of you are, ready to hand over spots 3 & 4 to two unproven WRs. Nate has earned his spot & despite what we think, management believes he's earned the contract too. I'm sure Nate's trying to get better, just like Baker, just like Sweed, just like Santonio & Hines - so can we stop acting like he's useless? Maybe his future does ultimately lie elsewhere with the addition of Sweed & his cap number, but as long as he's on the team I'll root for him.


How is a remark on the inability to see Nate's skill set equate to throwing him under the bus. You make remarks regarding throwing unproven players on the roster into the 3 and 4 spots and thus negating Nate's "rightful" place there. Last I checked that no one has a solidified roster spot and that includes the number 1 and 2 WRs. They'll compete in camp and let the chips fall where they may. You can't blame fans for being excited about the up and coming young talent on this team... especially if they've seen these same players in college produce extremely impressive numbers and are now poised to help this team win some games.... that includes Nate, BTW. But I'll not pull punches when it comes to my vantage point and opinions. IMHO, Nate has had his opportunities and now its time to see where we can go with other options at WR. I'll continue to root for Nate as long as he wears the uniform. But I'll always be hopeful to find someone else to take his spot that will show us more consistency and a better set of hands. As for giving the guy time.... two words... MARQUES COLSTON.

Oviedo
06-11-2008, 08:49 AM
Jesus guys...so eager to throw Nate under the bus when all he's done is produce. What has Baker done to deserve all this praise & hope?...Nothing yet except stand 6'3". How about Sweed?...Nothing yet either. Yet here some of you are, ready to hand over spots 3 & 4 to two unproven WRs. Nate has earned his spot & despite what we think, management believes he's earned the contract too. I'm sure Nate's trying to get better, just like Baker, just like Sweed, just like Santonio & Hines - so can we stop acting like he's useless? Maybe his future does ultimately lie elsewhere with the addition of Sweed & his cap number, but as long as he's on the team I'll root for him.

No one has said that Nate hasn't produced. What has been said is that Nate is inconsistent and has limited upside compared to Sweed in particular. Last year was the perfect example, Nate has had many opportunities and last year his catches are less than 2006 and his yards per catch were lower. That is not a player who is taking it to the next level. It was said best that with the game on the line do you want Nate to be the player you have to rely on to make the critical catch. Sorry, but I don't. I'd have more trust in Miller or Spaeth than Nate.

I always root for any player on the Steelers to have a superb season because that only helps the team. I just don't see that season coming from Nate who if you do an honest assessment is never going to be more than a journeyman NFL receiver.

Chucktownsteeler
06-11-2008, 08:59 AM
I agree we have all the talent and weapons on offense. Probably as goos as anyone in the league.

My biggest concern is if Bruce "Air" Arians can do the job. Based on his dismal performance at Cleveland (DNA Level C) and last year, this is my biggest concern.

Chan Gailey, "where are you?"

Oviedo
06-11-2008, 09:10 AM
I agree we have all the talent and weapons on offense. Probably as goos as anyone in the league.

My biggest concern is if Bruce "Air" Arians can do the job. Based on his dismal performance at Cleveland (DNA Level C) and last year, this is my biggest concern.

Chan Gailey, "where are you?"

I still don't get where everyone thinks Arians was a problem. Our QB had the best season of his career. Our TE had the best season of his I believe. Our RB was near the top of the league in rushing before he got hurt. But our offensive coordinator stinks. :? :? :? They did this with a suspect offensive line. Do you think the players are going into every huddle making up the plays as they go along like kids playing on the street?