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NKySteeler
05-11-2009, 11:37 AM
Success Of Pittsburgh Steelers In 2009 Depends On Offensive Line
by Brian Carson (Contributor)
May 10, 2009

http://img74.imageshack.us/img74/4047/111173feature.jpg

It's hard to believe a defending Super Bowl champion with 20 starters returning could have any weaknesses, but the Pittsburgh Steelers do.

And it could come back to bite them in 2009.

Without a doubt, the Steelers had the worst offensive line of any Super Bowl champion in history.

Don't believe me?

Check out the stats.

In 2008, the offensive line gave up 57 sacks, eight of those coming in the playoffs. Most games found QB Ben Roethlisberger doing his best Fran Tarkenton or Roger Staubach impersonation.

Flashback to February and Super Bowl XLIII. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Remember the final drive and how Big Ben had to run for his life on every play. Steeler fans everywhere were thanking the football gods that Dominique Rogers-Cromartie couldn't cover Santonio Holmes.

Head coach Mike Tomlin was just happy Roethlisberger made it through the season in one piece.

Now that the glow of a world championship has died down, it's time to take off the rose-colored glasses and see the offensive line for what it isóa glaring weakness. One that could cost this franchise a repeat performance and a seventh ring.

What did the Pittsburgh front office do to address the problem in the off-season?

Not much.

Marvel Smith and Kendall Simmons were let go, and not one lineman was signed in free agency. The draft produced two picksóWisconsin G Kraig Urbik was tabbed in the third round and Penn State center A.Q. Shipley was a seventh round selection. Look for Urbik to challenge for a starting spot from the get-go. Shipley will need some time to develop.

The good news is all five starters return a year older, wiser and hopefully better. The bad news, this is the same five guys who gave up all those sacks in 2008.

The line has size, center Justin Hartwig (6-4, 312), LG Chris Kemoeatu (6-3, 344), RG Darnell Stapleton (6-5, 305), LT Max Starks (6-8, 345), and RT Willie Colon (6-3, 315) all are 300-plus pounders who, at times, can be dominant run blockers.

The problem is pass protection.

If Roethlisberger goes down, the season is over for Pittsburgh. Byron Leftwich left to try and win the Tampa Bay job, which leaves veteran Charlie Batch, and youngster Dennis Dixon as the second and third options.

Batch is a solid player and a good locker room leader, but has a history of injury problems and is entering his 13th season. His best days are behind him. Dixon was a spread option QB at Oregon and isn't ready to be in charge of an NFL team.

Big Ben is the face of the franchise and a bona fide superstar. His health and well-being are the primary drivers for this organization to be successful. That and a nasty Dick LeBeau defense.

Roethlisberger is tough, but even he can't keep taking all the hits he does game in and game out, season after season. There may not be a sense of urgency in Pittsburgh regarding the o-line situation, but it will come on fast if the line struggles early on.

There isn't much left for the Steelers in free agency. If nothing transpires on the waiver wire once training camps get underway, they'll have to go with what they got.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, the offensive line must get better at protecting its star player. If it doesn't, Steeler fans will have to wait for that seventh ring.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1718 ... -in-2009.. (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/171859-success-of-pittsburgh-steelers-in-2009..).

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
05-11-2009, 12:02 PM
We all know the many reasons to be pessimistic about the O line, and for the most part they are legitimate concerns. Here are a few reasons for hope. Feel free to add on if you can think of any:

1) Cohesion - We started off last season with only two returning long term vets - Simmons and Smith. We also had a second year starter, a first year starter, and a new vet. By the end of the year, both vets were on the PUP list which added a first year starter and the reshuffling of Max. This year the worst case scenario is that these 5 play together again. If nothing else, that should give us a slight improvement over the group which was thrust into action for the first time last year.

2) Young players - Kemoeatu and Colon are both 26. Stapleton will turn 24 this year. Once again, worst case scenario is that all three should be a little better with that extra year under their belts. It seems that the team is very high on the potential of Kemo.

3) Max - Starks is almost the oldtimer here at 27. What seems to always be ignored in his case is that he is just re-learning the LT position. He played RT for the most part since he arrived, including starting there in the SBXL victory. He first started toying with LT in the '07 pre season. He was awful. He was forced over at the end of the '07 season when Marvel went down and performed well in mostly poor weather until he got hurt. Once again, forced to the bench, he returned to play well at LT last year. He was probably our most consistent lineman last year. So, since college, he has barely played LT, but now has about 3/4 of a season there and goes into camp knowing that he is the starting LT.

4) Second year starting - This kind of goes with the cohesion thing, but it is something that I think should be stressed. 4 out of the 5 starters will be starting at their position in our system for only the second year. Old man Colon will be there for his third year. This is an amazing stat to me. Doesn't it make sense that even if we are stuck with the same starting 5 that our line should be better just because of this?

Oviedo
05-11-2009, 12:24 PM
We all know the many reasons to be pessimistic about the O line, and for the most part they are legitimate concerns. Here are a few reasons for hope. Feel free to add on if you can think of any:

1) Cohesion - We started off last season with only two returning long term vets - Simmons and Smith. We also had a second year starter, a first year starter, and a new vet. By the end of the year, both vets were on the PUP list which added a first year starter and the reshuffling of Max. This year the worst case scenario is that these 5 play together again. If nothing else, that should give us a slight improvement over the group which was thrust into action for the first time last year.

2) Young players - Kemoeatu and Colon are both 26. Stapleton will turn 24 this year. Once again, worst case scenario is that all three should be a little better with that extra year under their belts. It seems that the team is very high on the potential of Kemo.

3) Max - Starks is almost the oldtimer here at 27. What seems to always be ignored in his case is that he is just re-learning the LT position. He played RT for the most part since he arrived, including starting there in the SBXL victory. He first started toying with LT in the '07 pre season. He was awful. He was forced over at the end of the '07 season when Marvel went down and performed well in mostly poor weather until he got hurt. Once again, forced to the bench, he returned to play well at LT last year. He was probably our most consistent lineman last year. So, since college, he has barely played LT, but now has about 3/4 of a season there and goes into camp knowing that he is the starting LT.

4) Second year starting - This kind of goes with the cohesion thing, but it is something that I think should be stressed. 4 out of the 5 starters will be starting at their position in our system for only the second year. Old man Colon will be there for his third year. This is an amazing stat to me. Doesn't it make sense that even if we are stuck with the same starting 5 that our line should be better just because of this?


You are being way to optimistic (I do agree) but I'm sure that shortly you will be put straight by the experts who will point out that how Tomlin and Colbert know nothing about talent and have only brought in one talented player since Tomlin took over. We are therefore destined to fail this year and there are "fans" who can't wait.

MeetJoeGreene
05-11-2009, 12:29 PM
Stapleton (6-5, 305),

I didn't realize Stapleton was that tall. So, he should have the room/frame to put on more pounds. I would like to see him add 10-15 lbs of muscle this off season. Should help his power and to hold up through the year. Of course, I really hope Urbik is so good he takes Darnell's place.

flippy
05-11-2009, 12:37 PM
Stapleton (6-5, 305),

I didn't realize Stapleton was that tall. So, he should have the room/frame to put on more pounds. I would like to see him add 10-15 lbs of muscle this off season. Should help his power and to hold up through the year. Of course, I really hope Urbik is so good he takes Darnell's place.

get the kid some roids. bulk him up.

and while we're at it, let's change his first name to dirk :D

every time i hear darn(ell), i think of something getting screwed up....

dirk sounds like he's bringing it.

RuthlessBurgher
05-11-2009, 01:16 PM
Stapleton (6-5, 305),

I didn't realize Stapleton was that tall. So, he should have the room/frame to put on more pounds. I would like to see him add 10-15 lbs of muscle this off season. Should help his power and to hold up through the year. Of course, I really hope Urbik is so good he takes Darnell's place.

The team's official website lists Stapleton as 6'3" 305 lbs.

RuthlessBurgher
05-11-2009, 01:19 PM
Stapleton (6-5, 305),

I didn't realize Stapleton was that tall. So, he should have the room/frame to put on more pounds. I would like to see him add 10-15 lbs of muscle this off season. Should help his power and to hold up through the year. Of course, I really hope Urbik is so good he takes Darnell's place.

get the kid some roids. bulk him up.

and while we're at it, let's change his first name to dirk :D

every time i hear darn(ell), i think of something getting screwed up....

dirk sounds like he's bringing it.

Dirk sounds like he's bringing Marky Mark's prosthetic penis.

http://assets.espn.go.com/i/magazine/new/reed_rothchild_a.jpg

Then again, Darnell makes me think of Crabman.

http://www.poptower.com/images/db/4674/450/500/my-name-is-earl.jpg

flippy
05-11-2009, 01:58 PM
Stapleton (6-5, 305),

I didn't realize Stapleton was that tall. So, he should have the room/frame to put on more pounds. I would like to see him add 10-15 lbs of muscle this off season. Should help his power and to hold up through the year. Of course, I really hope Urbik is so good he takes Darnell's place.

get the kid some roids. bulk him up.

and while we're at it, let's change his first name to dirk :D

every time i hear darn(ell), i think of something getting screwed up....

dirk sounds like he's bringing it.

Dirk sounds like he's bringing Marky Mark's prosthetic penis.

http://assets.espn.go.com/i/magazine/new/reed_rothchild_a.jpg

Then again, Darnell makes me think of Crabman.

http://www.poptower.com/images/db/4674/450/500/my-name-is-earl.jpg

how bout doug, then?

RuthlessBurgher
05-11-2009, 02:26 PM
Stapleton (6-5, 305),

I didn't realize Stapleton was that tall. So, he should have the room/frame to put on more pounds. I would like to see him add 10-15 lbs of muscle this off season. Should help his power and to hold up through the year. Of course, I really hope Urbik is so good he takes Darnell's place.

get the kid some roids. bulk him up.

and while we're at it, let's change his first name to dirk :D

every time i hear darn(ell), i think of something getting screwed up....

dirk sounds like he's bringing it.

Dirk sounds like he's bringing Marky Mark's prosthetic penis.

http://assets.espn.go.com/i/magazine/new/reed_rothchild_a.jpg

Then again, Darnell makes me think of Crabman.

http://www.poptower.com/images/db/4674/450/500/my-name-is-earl.jpg

how bout doug, then?

We already have an interior o-lineman named Doug.

http://media3.steelers.com/MediaContent/2008/10/03/06/Legursky_Doug_97037.jpg

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
05-11-2009, 03:00 PM
We all know the many reasons to be pessimistic about the O line, and for the most part they are legitimate concerns. Here are a few reasons for hope. Feel free to add on if you can think of any:

1) Cohesion - We started off last season with only two returning long term vets - Simmons and Smith. We also had a second year starter, a first year starter, and a new vet. By the end of the year, both vets were on the PUP list which added a first year starter and the reshuffling of Max. This year the worst case scenario is that these 5 play together again. If nothing else, that should give us a slight improvement over the group which was thrust into action for the first time last year.

2) Young players - Kemoeatu and Colon are both 26. Stapleton will turn 24 this year. Once again, worst case scenario is that all three should be a little better with that extra year under their belts. It seems that the team is very high on the potential of Kemo.

3) Max - Starks is almost the oldtimer here at 27. What seems to always be ignored in his case is that he is just re-learning the LT position. He played RT for the most part since he arrived, including starting there in the SBXL victory. He first started toying with LT in the '07 pre season. He was awful. He was forced over at the end of the '07 season when Marvel went down and performed well in mostly poor weather until he got hurt. Once again, forced to the bench, he returned to play well at LT last year. He was probably our most consistent lineman last year. So, since college, he has barely played LT, but now has about 3/4 of a season there and goes into camp knowing that he is the starting LT.

4) Second year starting - This kind of goes with the cohesion thing, but it is something that I think should be stressed. 4 out of the 5 starters will be starting at their position in our system for only the second year. Old man Colon will be there for his third year. This is an amazing stat to me. Doesn't it make sense that even if we are stuck with the same starting 5 that our line should be better just because of this?


You are being way to optimistic (I do agree) but I'm sure that shortly you will be put straight by the experts who will point out that how Tomlin and Colbert know nothing about talent and have only brought in one talented player since Tomlin took over. We are therefore destined to fail this year and there are "fans" who can't wait.

I hope we fail as miserably as we did last year.

RuthlessBurgher
05-11-2009, 03:03 PM
[quote="steeler_fan_in_t.o.":1oryrdvy]We all know the many reasons to be pessimistic about the O line, and for the most part they are legitimate concerns. Here are a few reasons for hope. Feel free to add on if you can think of any:

1) Cohesion - We started off last season with only two returning long term vets - Simmons and Smith. We also had a second year starter, a first year starter, and a new vet. By the end of the year, both vets were on the PUP list which added a first year starter and the reshuffling of Max. This year the worst case scenario is that these 5 play together again. If nothing else, that should give us a slight improvement over the group which was thrust into action for the first time last year.

2) Young players - Kemoeatu and Colon are both 26. Stapleton will turn 24 this year. Once again, worst case scenario is that all three should be a little better with that extra year under their belts. It seems that the team is very high on the potential of Kemo.

3) Max - Starks is almost the oldtimer here at 27. What seems to always be ignored in his case is that he is just re-learning the LT position. He played RT for the most part since he arrived, including starting there in the SBXL victory. He first started toying with LT in the '07 pre season. He was awful. He was forced over at the end of the '07 season when Marvel went down and performed well in mostly poor weather until he got hurt. Once again, forced to the bench, he returned to play well at LT last year. He was probably our most consistent lineman last year. So, since college, he has barely played LT, but now has about 3/4 of a season there and goes into camp knowing that he is the starting LT.

4) Second year starting - This kind of goes with the cohesion thing, but it is something that I think should be stressed. 4 out of the 5 starters will be starting at their position in our system for only the second year. Old man Colon will be there for his third year. This is an amazing stat to me. Doesn't it make sense that even if we are stuck with the same starting 5 that our line should be better just because of this?


You are being way to optimistic (I do agree) but I'm sure that shortly you will be put straight by the experts who will point out that how Tomlin and Colbert know nothing about talent and have only brought in one talented player since Tomlin took over. We are therefore destined to fail this year and there are "fans" who can't wait.

I hope we fail as miserably as we did last year.[/quote:1oryrdvy]

Yeah...sure sucks drafting 32nd. :D

True Fan
05-11-2009, 03:18 PM
that article was spot on. you cant ignore the oline for too long before it bites ya

Slapstick
05-11-2009, 03:25 PM
Thank God it won't bite the Steelers until after they are fitted for their Super Bowl rings...

steeler_george
05-11-2009, 03:48 PM
Another thing I want to bring up is our last year's schedule. We palyed against some good to dominate "D"- Baltimore 2 times and once in the play offs, Philly, Giants, Dallas, Titans, etc.

NKySteeler
05-11-2009, 03:57 PM
Yea, we have a great team with alot of talent... And while we won it all due to being a superior team, we were also lucky in alot of ways.

1. Ben went down and we had excellent relief from Leftwich. I'm not sure we can expect the same from Batch/Dixon.

2. Parker/Mendy suffered injuries, and we had a great effort from Moore. More than expectedly so IMO from a late off-season addition to the squad.

3. Our D had a phenomenal season resembling those from the '70s.

... Now, could all this happen again? Maybe... I just would rather not have to count on all the bounces going our way again this season. Any weakness could be considered an issue, and I feel that our line is just that... Ben was put down on the turf many more times than the "average" amount, and it wasn't all due to his "scrambling style".

This article wasn't posted with the intent to be negative about the team, because I'm not... I actually like our chances at repeating... But I'm also not going to sit here and say "all's perfect" when there is some aspect that is weak.

ikestops85
05-11-2009, 04:17 PM
Yea, we have a great team with alot of talent... And while we won it all due to being a superior team, we were also lucky in alot of ways.

1. Ben went down and we had excellent relief from Leftwich. I'm not sure we can expect the same from Batch/Dixon.

2. Parker/Mendy suffered injuries, and we had a great effort from Moore. More than expectedly so IMO from a late off-season addition to the squad.

3. Our D had a phenomenal season resembling those from the '70s.

... Now, could all this happen again? Maybe... I just would rather not have to count on all the bounces going our way again this season. Any weakness could be considered an issue, and I feel that our line is just that... Ben was put down on the turf many more times than the "average" amount, and it wasn't all due to his "scrambling style".

This article wasn't posted with the intent to be negative about the team, because I'm not... I actually like our chances at repeating... But I'm also not going to sit here and say "all's perfect" when there is some aspect that is weak.

:Agree
We were a good football team last year but like all SB champions it does take some luck to go all the way to the end.

First and foremost you can't afford to get a rash of injuries in either one position or one unit. I think last year Seattle was starting it's #7 and #8 wide receivers and Denver had to put 8 running backs on IR. We had injuries but except for the RB position they seemed to be spaced out. One more injury in our backfield and I think we never would have seen Tampa.

You also have to have some key close calls go your way. While we were on the wrong side of the call at times the really big ones went our way (i.e. Holmes last second catch against the ravens).

Finally you need some luck. How bad was that ball that Romo threw to Townsend for the game winning interception returned for a TD?

But for any of that stuff to matter you have to be damn good and that's what the steelers are. That's why they have a chance almost every year to win the big prize, why it hurts so bad when they don't and feels so great when they do.
:tt2

steelers43
05-11-2009, 06:28 PM
My only question about the OL is what five is best suited to start and where?

I personally like

Max - Kemo - Shipley - Urbik - Colon

RuthlessBurgher
05-12-2009, 12:04 PM
My only question about the OL is what five is best suited to start and where?

I personally like

Max - Kemo - Shipley - Urbik - Colon

Urbik may be able to wrestle RG away from Stapleton right off the bat, but I don't think the team (who places a strong priority on continuity) would consider starting 2 rookies on the o-line at the same time. I think Hartwig starts at C this year, and Shipley competes with Stapleton (and possibly Legursky as well) for the starting center job in 2010.

Oviedo
05-12-2009, 12:20 PM
My only question about the OL is what five is best suited to start and where?

I personally like

Max - Kemo - Shipley - Urbik - Colon

Urbik may be able to wrestle RG away from Stapleton right off the bat, but I don't think the team (who places a strong priority on continuity) would consider starting 2 rookies on the o-line at the same time. I think Hartwig starts at C this year, and Shipley competes with Stapleton (and possibly Legursky as well) for the starting center job in 2010.

That is why all the pre-draft talk about "improving" the OL with multiple rookie OL was silly. Not the way they do business. College players with no NFL experience can't be ready for the OL in most cases. That is why the Steelers are successful. They make players prove they can do the job not hand it to them because of draft status and the reviews of so-called "draft experts."

phillyesq
05-12-2009, 03:14 PM
My only question about the OL is what five is best suited to start and where?

I personally like

Max - Kemo - Shipley - Urbik - Colon

Urbik may be able to wrestle RG away from Stapleton right off the bat, but I don't think the team (who places a strong priority on continuity) would consider starting 2 rookies on the o-line at the same time. I think Hartwig starts at C this year, and Shipley competes with Stapleton (and possibly Legursky as well) for the starting center job in 2010.

Ruthless, I agree. My guess is that Urbik takes the starting job at about the midpoint of the season. Very rare for a rookie to start for the Steelers week 1, but I would be disappointed if Urbik doesn't win the job by midseason.

I doubt that Hartwig is in jeopardy of losing his spot, but if Shipley shows enough in practice, I agree that he and Stapelton could easily compete for the spot next year.

True Fan
05-12-2009, 09:57 PM
My only question about the OL is what five is best suited to start and where?

I personally like

Max - Kemo - Shipley - Urbik - Colon


shipley will be lucky to make the practice squad, i think

buckeyehoppy
05-17-2009, 03:50 PM
I think we can all forget about the FO adding anything to the balance on the OL for this current roster. It's going to be like Gene Hackman playing four in "Hoosiers"..."our team is on the floor".

The current OL depth chart, parsing it from the current roster stands as follows:

LT-Starks, Hills, Capizzi
LG-Kemoeatu, Parquet
C-Hartwig, Legursky, Shipley
RG-Stapleton, Essex, Urbik
RT-Colon, Foster

That's 13 guys. 9 of which will make the active opening day roster. 1, maybe 2, will be on the PS.

The only positive out of this, so far, is that the continuity has to be there...it just has to be. For the bulk of the starters on this line, it'll be their 3rd together. That is a plus, regardless of the level of talent.

With the exception of Essex and Parquet, every projected backup has one full season or less of experience. This is where coaching and leadership from the starters will be extremely important. Just judging from our projected starters, I am more than a little concerned about the leadership possibilities, especially considering that two of those players are in the last season with their current contracts. Let's just say that that is a potential distraction.

This is where, barring injuries, I would figure the OL depth chart will shake out at the end of TC/ beginning of the RS:

LT-Starks, Hills, Capizzi
LG-Kemoeatu, Urbik
C-Hartwig, Stapleton
RG-Stapleton, Urbik, Essex
RT-Colon, Essex, Capizzi

PS-Parquet, Shipley
Cut-Foster, Legursky

I'm not sure if they can keep Parquet on the PS because he has already been there for two years. I'm pretty sure they will have to carry him as an active player or cut him, so my projection here is largely wishful thinking. If Foster offers the same position flexibility, he will get the nod over Parquet because there will be no question over his status on the PS.

Shipley will beat out Legursky, I am guessing. But neither will start the season on the active roster since, when push comes to shove, Stapleton can slide in and cover Hartwig in a pinch. He will get a good look at C in camp because they are going to need to know whether he is a viable option to slide in as a full-time starter at C after this season.

Urbik will be called to cover backup at both sides of G. He will start this season if anyone in the interior line goes down. He may well beat out Stapleton anyway with a good enough camp or if they value Stapleton more as a C/G backup who can relive either or all inside positions.

Bottom line is that the Steelers are going to be asking a whole lot from Starks and Kemo, neither of whom have at this stage of their careers proven that they can be consistently reliable over the course of a whole season. Starks is singing for his supper this season. Kemo has already received his second helping at the Steelers table.

We'll have to see whether the new deal affects Kemo for better or worse. For Starks, he doesn't have much of a choice but to excel in a contract year...and it will be the first time in his career that he has had a successful season from wire to wire if he can do that. Each time he has successfully finished a season, he has done so in relief of an injured player.

I am good with the FO strategy with the OL. Basically, I am hoping this plan succeeds for their sake. If it works, they will probably still need OL depth in the next draft but the need will be reduced. If it doesn't work, then the FO is squarely on the hook for the unit failure and their ignoring of this unit in the last couple drafts will be, most assuredly, in the cross hairs.

The important things to look at will be how quickly the backup players have picked up the system and how Kemo and Starks will react to being set in their spots from the outset of the season.

RuthlessBurgher
05-17-2009, 04:14 PM
I think we may keep ten o-lineman this year among our final 53 instead of just nine.

Where does the extra space come from? They normally keep 5 RB's and 3 TE's. But since Summers can contribute as a short-yardage ball carrier as well as a fullback, and McHugh can contribute as a third tight end as well as a fullback, that makes Carey Davis expendable (and I think both Summers and McHugh could also contribute on special teams just like Davis did as well). They could keep Parker, Mendenhall, Moore, Summers, Miller, Spaeth, and McHugh as seven guys among the RB/TE instead of the customary eight between those two positions.

I think Urbik beats out Stapleton for the starting RG spot coming out of training camp, giving us a starting line of Starks-Kemoeatu-Hartwig-Urbik-Colon. While not the most athletic line in the world, there are some nasty characters among that group.

I think Essex and Stapleton will be the primary back-ups on gameday because of their versatility (Trai at guard or tackle and Darnell at guard or center). Dressing only 7 o-lineman on gameday allows you to be able to suit up more guys that would help your special teams coverage units.

Tony Hills, A.Q. Shipley, and Ramon Foster round out the 10 o-lineman on the roster. We always have at least one UDFA make the roster each year, and Foster seems like the most likely candidate to me. Although these three guys may be inactive on gameday more often than not, I think that it is important to keep these two tackles and one center on the 53 man roster (as opposed to exposing them to practice squad poaching by other teams) because our two starting tackles and starting center all have contracts that will expire after this season. These guy could be counted on as potential starters as early as 2010.

I won't miss Capizzi, Parquet, or Legursky too much. If the team wants to keep any of them around on the practice squad (provided that player still have PS eligibility remaining), that's fine by me, but I don't see any reason for those guys to make the final 53 unless the guys I mentioned earlier get hurt in camp or just fall on their face in Latrobe.

buckeyehoppy
05-17-2009, 05:13 PM
I think we may keep ten o-lineman this year among our final 53 instead of just nine.

I could see that, just based on the size of the question mark behind this unit. That would help Foster's prospects most of all and may guarantee Parquet's spot on the final roster, since I am pretty sure that they will have to put him on the roster or outright him.


Where does the extra space come from? They normally keep 5 RB's and 3 TE's. But since Summers can contribute as a short-yardage ball carrier as well as a fullback, and McHugh can contribute as a third tight end as well as a fullback, that makes Carey Davis expendable (and I think both Summers and McHugh could also contribute on special teams just like Davis did as well). They could keep Parker, Mendenhall, Moore, Summers, Miller, Spaeth, and McHugh as seven guys among the RB/TE instead of the customary eight between those two positions.

They are bringing back Davis as a courtesy to him, since he has been to camp with the team two times and knows the ropes. Outside of that, unless he shows the staff a missing element of his game that he hasn't shown them before, he is toast and is merely a camp body. I expect him to be one of the first camp cuts. Summers and McHugh already offer more position versatility than him. Davis does nothing well of note.


I think Urbik beats out Stapleton for the starting RG spot coming out of training camp, giving us a starting line of Starks-Kemoeatu-Hartwig-Urbik-Colon. While not the most athletic line in the world, there are some nasty characters among that group.

I hedged my bet here like I hedged my bet in the Anaheim/SanJose series in the hockey playoffs. This could happen, but I'm just guessing it won't based on past history of the coaching staff not wanting to rush anyone from the draft into the lineup too fast. That said, I think Urbik starting from the get go at RG will immediately make Colon better at RT and immediately improves the Steelers ability to run to the right which is something they didn't do well with Stapleton starting at RG last season.


I think Essex and Stapleton will be the primary back-ups on gameday because of their versatility (Trai at guard or tackle and Darnell at guard or center). Dressing only 7 o-lineman on gameday allows you to be able to suit up more guys that would help your special teams coverage units.

Essex and Stapleton would be most valuable in these roles anyway and I think the coaching staff has to be evaluating Stapleton as a possible successor as starting C. Stapleton has the right body build for the position and if they aren't going to consider him at C, then you'd really have to question what his role is going to be with the Steelers anyway. Either that, or the Steelers FO and coaching staff has a glaring deficiency as talent evaluators that hasn't been apparent lately.


Tony Hills, A.Q. Shipley, and Ramon Foster round out the 10 o-lineman on the roster. We always have at least one UDFA make the roster each year, and Foster seems like the most likely candidate to me. Although these three guys may be inactive on gameday more often than not, I think that it is important to keep these two tackles and one center on the 53 man roster (as opposed to exposing them to practice squad poaching by other teams) because our two starting tackles and starting center all have contracts that will expire after this season. These guy could be counted on as potential starters as early as 2010.

Hills and Foster are particularly valuable in this regard. As far as Foster is concerned, if he can show the same kind of position versatility as Essex, then Capizzi is probably toast unless he can push Colon at RT. Starks WILL NOT be tagged next year. He will be signed or launched, period. If he has a crappy season, it will make for an easy decision regarding him at the end of the year. Best case scenario: Hills actually pushes Starks in camp and opens the eyes of the brass.


I won't miss Capizzi, Parquet, or Legursky too much. If the team wants to keep any of them around on the practice squad (provided that player still have PS eligibility remaining), that's fine by me, but I don't see any reason for those guys to make the final 53 unless the guys I mentioned earlier get hurt in camp or just fall on their face in Latrobe.

As far as I can tell, unless Capizzi can also play G or he can push Colon at RT, he may be as good as gone. I think you can only keep a player on your PS for two seasons. After that, they either have to make the 53 or be outrighted. If Colon has a lousy camp, that might just open a door for Capizzi and/or Foster to make the final roster. As far as Legursky is concerned, he is in direct competition for a spot with Shipley...the loser gets launched and the winner gets to go to the PS.

buckeyehoppy
05-17-2009, 05:27 PM
Another number to keep in mind for the Steelers OL this year is:

30

The FO has stood pat with what they consider to be an acceptable situation at OL. That's fine...they won a SB last season with what most would consider an inferior OL.

All I ask is that the OL, as presently constituted, gives up no more than 30 sacks in the regular season and no more than one a game in the playoffs. If they can manage that, then, I say, the experiment will have worked. Any less, and they'll need to keep trying to figure out the chemistry.

Hopefully, Big Ben won't have to sit out half the season if the experiment is failing.

This season is when we'll all know definitively whether the squeaking wheel that the OL has been still needs grease.

RuthlessBurgher
05-18-2009, 10:04 AM
As far as I can tell, unless Capizzi can also play G or he can push Colon at RT, he may be as good as gone. I think you can only keep a player on your PS for two seasons. After that, they either have to make the 53 or be outrighted. If Colon has a lousy camp, that might just open a door for Capizzi and/or Foster to make the final roster. As far as Legursky is concerned, he is in direct competition for a spot with Shipley...the loser gets launched and the winner gets to go to the PS.

I can't see Capizzi moving inside to guard. Dude is 6'9". Even though Ben is a tall QB at 6'5", you wouldn't want a guy 4 inches taller than him with his head in his passing lanes as an interior o-lineman.

Oviedo
05-18-2009, 10:22 AM
As far as I can tell, unless Capizzi can also play G or he can push Colon at RT, he may be as good as gone. I think you can only keep a player on your PS for two seasons. After that, they either have to make the 53 or be outrighted. If Colon has a lousy camp, that might just open a door for Capizzi and/or Foster to make the final roster. As far as Legursky is concerned, he is in direct competition for a spot with Shipley...the loser gets launched and the winner gets to go to the PS.

I can't see Capizzi moving inside to guard. Dude is 6'9". Even though Ben is a tall QB at 6'5", you wouldn't want a guy 4 inches taller than him with his head in his passing lanes as an interior o-lineman.

Yea but we don't exactly have a classic pocket passer for a QB. Ben moves so much I think this would be less of an issue for ben then say Brady or Manning.