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phillyesq
09-03-2008, 08:00 AM
Steelers Notebook: Tampa gets Mahan for undisclosed pick
Stapleton becomes the backup at center

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Sean Mahan (61) was overpowered by some of the bigger nose tackles in the league and the Steelers signed free agent Justin Hartwig to replace him.

The Steelers traded backup center Sean Mahan to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday for an undisclosed draft choice in 2009.

Mahan, 28, started all 17 games, including their playoff, last season after he signed with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent from Tampa Bay. However, he was overpowered by some of the bigger nose tackles in the league and the Steelers signed free agent Justin Hartwig this year to replace him.

The two competed for the spot in the preseason, with coach Mike Tomlin declaring Hartwig, 29, the winner before the final preseason game.

With Mahan gone, Darnell Stapleton, who also can play guard, becomes Hartwig's backup. Stapleton made the team last year as an undrafted rookie from Rutgers.

The trade leaves the Steelers with an open spot on their 52-player roster that they likely will fill today.

The Buccaneers drafted Mahan in the fifth round from Notre Dame in 2003. The Steelers signed him to replace the retired Jeff Hartings at center and he did so after competing last summer for the job with veteran Chukky Okobi, who was released before the 2007 season began.
Kickoff-return worry

Kick coverage will get a quick test from Houston's Andre Davis. He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season and averaged 30.3 yards per return. Davis played his first three seasons, 2002-2004, with the Cleveland Browns.

"We're familiar with this guy in the AFC North from Cleveland," Tomlin said. "He's got great straight-line speed. He's fearless. He hits the hole long-striding and that's why he generates plays."

Rookie Steve Slaton from West Virginia University also returns kicks for the Texans.

"Andre Davis isn't the only one you've got to worry about in that phase of football," Tomlin said.
Linebacker playing time

Larry Foote will start his fifth season at inside linebacker, but Tomlin promised that Lawrence Timmons will play in the base 3-4 defense as well as the nickel.

"The thing is with those guys we're blessed with great depth at the linebacker position," Tomlin said. "Those guys are going to play for us -- James Farrior, Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons.

"I couldn't care less who runs out of the tunnel. That's irrelevant. What is relevant is that those three play football for us because they're playmakers. You'll see that on Sunday."
Polamalu ready to go

The Steelers are healthy after Foote returned to practice Monday after missing the previous week with a knee injury. Safety Troy Polamalu played in both series with the first-team defense Thursday night against Carolina after missing the first three games and the entire training camp with a hamstring injury.

"We're just going to toss him in," Tomlin said of Polamalu. "That's the nature of this thing. Training camp is important; preseason is important. He missed a bunch of that due to injury. But we play on Sunday and he's going to be a part of it. Hopefully he gets his legs under him quickly."
Mendenhall kickoff returner

Rookie Rashard Mendenhall will return kickoffs, but Tomlin still is not sure how much he will play at halfback. Mendenhall did not help his case when he lost three fumbles in the final two preseason games.

"We're looking at his preparation this week, his attention to detail in terms of how he executes his assignments, and his level of ball security," Tomlin said. "That process will be ongoing. That's what it's about. We'll see as we get closer to game time."

Mewelde Moore and Santonio Holmes will handle the punt returns, being used differently based on certain situations in the game, such as field position.
Quick hits

Tomlin called it "highly unlikely" that all seven defensive linemen will dress Sunday. ... Because the Steelers have only two tight ends on the roster, OT Max Starks might be used as the No. 3 tight end as a blocker, but they first must decide if he dresses as a backup lineman for the game. ... Ike Taylor switched to right cornerback and Deshea Townsend to left this year, but Tomlin indicated he could use Taylor to shadow one receiver as he did on occasion last season.

First published on September 3, 2008 at 12:00 am

Sounds like Mendenhall is only going to be used as a KR, with a few carries here and there, at least for the beginning of the season. Hopefully, that changes quickly as the season goes on.

I like the idea of rotating Timmons into the ILB spots. I wouldn't mind seeing him get a bit of time at OLB as well to keep Harrison and Woodley fresh.

proudpittsburgher
09-03-2008, 09:31 AM
Sounds like Mendenhall is only going to be used as a KR, with a few carries here and there, at least for the beginning of the season. Hopefully, that changes quickly as the season goes on.


See, that's what frustrates me with Steeler fans, especially over at the trib board. esq, this isn;t aimed at you, just pointing out your comment. If WP fumbled three times in the preseason, people would be calling for his head. Actually, many still are. But somehow, the rookie who has shwon the ability to run well, can't hold on to the ball because of his carelessness in carrying the ball, but there are people who want him starting. I like the possibilities as much as the next guy, but I'm taking wp for now.

phillyesq
09-03-2008, 10:12 AM
proudpittsburgher, maybe I should clarify my comment a bit. I'm not among those calling for FWP's head -- I like him. I'm not calling for Mendenhall to start either. I think he's an exciting talent, and I'm anxious to see him play, but I don't want him to be the starter, at least not yet.

Hope my post wasn't too Trib like -- I was just a little disappointed that we aren't going to see more of Mendenhall running the ball early in the season.

proudpittsburgher
09-03-2008, 11:24 AM
proudpittsburgher, maybe I should clarify my comment a bit. I'm not among those calling for FWP's head -- I like him. I'm not calling for Mendenhall to start either. I think he's an exciting talent, and I'm anxious to see him play, but I don't want him to be the starter, at least not yet.

Hope my post wasn't too Trib like -- I was just a little disappointed that we aren't going to see more of Mendenhall running the ball early in the season.

No, totally understand, that's why I said it wasn't directed at you. I just see all the love for Mendy, especially on the other board, but I am seriously pizzed about the fumbles. I really like a lot of what I am seeing so far, but if he can't hold on to the ball, he isn't worth the hassle.

phillyesq
09-03-2008, 11:42 AM
No, totally understand, that's why I said it wasn't directed at you. I just see all the love for Mendy, especially on the other board, but I am seriously pizzed about the fumbles. I really like a lot of what I am seeing so far, but if he can't hold on to the ball, he isn't worth the hassle.

No worries. I didn't take it personally. I haven't visited the Trib board much lately, but I didn't want to inadvertently bring the conversation over here to that level.

Iron Shiek
09-03-2008, 11:45 AM
No, totally understand, that's why I said it wasn't directed at you. I just see all the love for Mendy, especially on the other board, but I am seriously pizzed about the fumbles. I really like a lot of what I am seeing so far, but if he can't hold on to the ball, he isn't worth the hassle.

No worries. I didn't take it personally. I haven't visited the Trib board much lately, but I didn't want to inadvertently bring the conversation over here to that level.


Yeah you lousy bum! Quit bringing that crap over here. :D

:Beer :mrgreen:

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
09-04-2008, 02:18 PM
Ike Taylor switched to right cornerback and Deshea Townsend to left this year, but Tomlin indicated he could use Taylor to shadow one receiver as he did on occasion last season.



Wow, what a huge demotion for Ike.....shadowing the opposition's top receiver.

What's next? Cutting him outright? :lol: :lol: