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Oviedo
12-04-2009, 11:17 AM
Good info from Wexell. My view of Burnett is well know. The guy is a playmaker. I wish we were seeing more of what he and Lewis could do. I guess if we lose another game or two we probably will.

I respect LeBeau's defense of Farrior, but ILB is a candidate position IMO for our Round 1 pick this next draft. Ro McClain from Alabama will likely be gone and would be my top choice but Brando Spikes from Florida could still be on the board.


A Safe Harbor



Another ball gets away from Steelers DBs (Getty) By Jim Wexell
SteelCityInsider.com
Posted Dec 3, 2009



| More

The Steelers' secondary needs to start making opposing QBs pay for throwing deep. Also, Dick LeBeau defends James Farrior, and Anthony Madison smiles and keeps his mouth shut.

PITTSBURGH – In one practice series this week, rookies Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis did something rare for Steelers cornerbacks this season: They made plays.
Lining up on the scout team, Burnett intercepted a pass intended for a tight end who wasn’t looking. Burnett was, and he returned the interception for an easy touchdown. Two plays later, Lewis blitzed off the edge and leaped to bat Ben Roethlisberger's pass to the ground.

In a season in which cornerbacks Ike Taylor, William Gay and Deshea Townsend have made so few plays, might we expect one of the rookies to reach the field soon?

“I feel good about our young players,” said defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. “But I feel real good about our veteran corners, too.

“You look at the numbers. It’s easy to pick out a play here and a play there, but I think you have to go on the overall numbers. Other than the number of interceptions, our guys are playing competitively now.”

Well, the “number of interceptions” isn’t really a number; it’s zero. The Steelers and the St. Louis Rams are the only teams in the league whose cornerbacks – starting or otherwise – have not intercepted a pass.

While the Steelers do have the league’s No. 3 overall defense, their pass defense ranks 13th, and much of that low ranking has to do with the high number of big plays allowed.

In 2008, the Steelers allowed only 9.5 yards per completion, but this year they’re allowing 11.1 yards per catch. In the last two games allowed nine catches of 20 or more yards, including catches of 47, 61, 54 and 44.

“We’re giving up too many of them. There’s no question about it,” LeBeau said. “What I would like to see us do is intercept. You’ve got to make people pay if they’re going to go downtown, because they’re going to get some of those in there. We’re not picking those off, so our emphasis is making them pay a little more when they want to go deep on us. We definitely have to cut those plays off.”

TALE OF TWO ILBs

Lawrence Timmons sat on the bench for most of the second quarter Sunday, but LeBeau said it was not a benching, but a chance for him to keep his injured ankle fresh, as well as a chance for Keyaron Fox to play.

“It’s more a situation of trying to get Lawrence back to 100 percent, which he’s pretty close to,” LeBeau said.

In the second half, Timmons sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco twice and forced a fumble the second time to set the offense up for the go-ahead touchdown.

Timmons’ partner inside, James Farrior, also sacked Flacco and forced a fumble, but that was after his man, Ray Rice, had caught a fourth-down pass and gained 44 yards to set up the game-tying field goal.

Because of Rice’s big play, and the early-season fourth-down completion to Cincinnati back Brian Leonard, some are wondering whether the skills of the 34-year-old Farrior are beginning to diminish. LeBeau fiercely defended his captain.

“Well, James Farrior won the Dallas game for us a couple years ago,” LeBeau started. “He has played both Super Bowl games with serious injuries that a lot of people wouldn’t have gone out there with. We lead the league in rushing defense. I think we’re third in total defense. Our middle linebacker plays damn good football. I wished that I would’ve put him in a little better defense, to be honest with you, on both of those plays, but over the course of this season and recent seasons, James has been successful nine out of 10 times on those type of plays.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say ‘this play’ or ‘that play.’ You have to look at the whole picture. And the defense’s production, particularly from the linebacker position, has been very, very good.”

MADISON BACK IN BLACK, GOLD

When things were going well for Anthony Madison last season, he praised the kick coverage ace before him, Chidi Iwuoma, for teaching him what he knows.

“It’s not something rookies can just step out there and do,” Madison said last season.

The Steelers had to learn the hard way. Again.

Just as they did with the 28-year-old Iwuoma the year after he captained the special teams in a Super Bowl victory, the Steelers cut the 28-year-old Madison the training camp after he led the team in special-teams tackles during another Super Bowl run.

And, just as the Steelers did with Iwuoma on Dec. 4 in 2006, they called Madison back on Dec. 2 this year to restore some pride to a unit that had gone from first in the league to 31st in one year.

Madison watched it all happen while he was a part of the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts.

“I always paid attention. These are my brothers,” Madison said. “You watch and you spectate and you watch it from a fan’s perspective.”

What was his reaction to the Steelers allowing four kickoff returns for touchdowns?

“I’m not going into all of that,” he said. “But it’s one of those situations where you, you know, you just look and you wonder.”

A source in the Steelers’ personnel department said that Madison has not lost his skills, that he was cut simply because of a numbers problem coming out of training camp. Madison said the same numbers problems surfaced in both Cleveland and Indianapolis.

“It’s one of those situations where I’m glad to be back,” said Madison, who’ll play gunner on the punt team and replace Stefan Logan as the “L2” on the kickoff team. “I’m just ready to get to my regular role and try to help this team win.”

INJURY UPDATE

Troy Polamalu (knee) and Travis Kirschke (calf) missed another practice. Polamalu won’t play Sunday, and it’s unlikely that Kirschke will. ... Chris Kemoeatu (knee) was listed as questionable on Tuesday, but has practiced full-time both days this week and expects to play Sunday.

RuthlessBurgher
12-04-2009, 11:25 AM
It will be good to get Kemo back.

I didn't realize that Kirschke suffered a setback re: his calf injury, since he played last week.

The parallels between the Steelers cutting Iwuoma after the SBXL season and re-signing him in early December because of coverage struggles and the Steelers cutting Madison after the SBXLIII season and re-signing him in early December because of coverage struggles are interesting to say the least.

D Rock
12-04-2009, 12:20 PM
now that Logan is off the coverage teams, and he's not really doing a whole heck of a lot with his return opportunities...

is he the next to be cut if a player needs to be brought in?



I know he's had the best averages of any returners here lately, but if he's not breaking the big ones, then Wallace and Burnett can probably be just as good.

phillyesq
12-04-2009, 12:30 PM
Great read -- thanks for posting.

I'm very glad to hear that Madison will replace Logan on the kickoff team.

Oviedo
12-04-2009, 01:26 PM
now that Logan is off the coverage teams, and he's not really doing a whole heck of a lot with his return opportunities...

is he the next to be cut if a player needs to be brought in?



I know he's had the best averages of any returners here lately, but if he's not breaking the big ones, then Wallace and Burnett can probably be just as good.

Logan has been an undeiable improvement for returns, but I would still like to see Burnett get a chance. I'm pretty certain that Logan is a one year solution unless he starts to do a Devon Hester or Josh Cribbs impersonation real soon.

Mister Pittsburgh
12-04-2009, 01:34 PM
Love what Lebeau has done for the Steelers but think he is dead wrong when he says you can't look at just this play or that play. In the course of a game it is about half a dozen plays that really make the difference. And it isn't really something new that nobody in our secondary other than Troy could catch the football if it was Tomlin's 8 year old throwing it to them.

I think Lebeau's defense the past couple years relies too heavily on Troy. Everybody else has to play such straight laced fundamental football so Troy has the ability to run around doing his thing. When Troy isn't in there.....seems like our D isn't anywhere near as good.

I will put it this way, with Troy in there, I think we could beat the Saints. Without Troy in there, I would be sweating playing KC........ :shock:

phillyesq
12-04-2009, 02:54 PM
now that Logan is off the coverage teams, and he's not really doing a whole heck of a lot with his return opportunities...

is he the next to be cut if a player needs to be brought in?



I know he's had the best averages of any returners here lately, but if he's not breaking the big ones, then Wallace and Burnett can probably be just as good.

Logan has been an undeiable improvement for returns, but I would still like to see Burnett get a chance. I'm pretty certain that Logan is a one year solution unless he starts to do a Devon Hester or Josh Cribbs impersonation real soon.

I would love for you to be right on Burnett as a returner, but from what I remember, didn't he put together a Willie Reidesque preseason on punt returns?

papillon
12-04-2009, 03:35 PM
now that Logan is off the coverage teams, and he's not really doing a whole heck of a lot with his return opportunities...

is he the next to be cut if a player needs to be brought in?



I know he's had the best averages of any returners here lately, but if he's not breaking the big ones, then Wallace and Burnett can probably be just as good.

Logan has been an undeiable improvement for returns, but I would still like to see Burnett get a chance. I'm pretty certain that Logan is a one year solution unless he starts to do a Devon Hester or Josh Cribbs impersonation real soon.

I would love for you to be right on Burnett as a returner, but from what I remember, didn't he put together a Willie Reidesque preseason on punt returns?

I don't know about punt returns, it seems that Logan is the guy for the rest of this season. I would like to see Beunett get some reps versus the Raiders at cornerback this weekend though. If nothing else, it may light a fire under Willie Gay and get him pick it up a bit. He was handed the job without much competition for the spot.

Pappy

phillyesq
12-04-2009, 05:11 PM
now that Logan is off the coverage teams, and he's not really doing a whole heck of a lot with his return opportunities...

is he the next to be cut if a player needs to be brought in?



I know he's had the best averages of any returners here lately, but if he's not breaking the big ones, then Wallace and Burnett can probably be just as good.

Logan has been an undeiable improvement for returns, but I would still like to see Burnett get a chance. I'm pretty certain that Logan is a one year solution unless he starts to do a Devon Hester or Josh Cribbs impersonation real soon.

I would love for you to be right on Burnett as a returner, but from what I remember, didn't he put together a Willie Reidesque preseason on punt returns?

I don't know about punt returns, it seems that Logan is the guy for the rest of this season. I would like to see Beunett get some reps versus the Raiders at cornerback this weekend though. If nothing else, it may light a fire under Willie Gay and get him pick it up a bit. He was handed the job without much competition for the spot.

Pappy

I agree with you there. It would be nice to see if Burnett could contribute a bit, at least in obvious passing situations.

Oviedo
12-04-2009, 05:17 PM
now that Logan is off the coverage teams, and he's not really doing a whole heck of a lot with his return opportunities...

is he the next to be cut if a player needs to be brought in?



I know he's had the best averages of any returners here lately, but if he's not breaking the big ones, then Wallace and Burnett can probably be just as good.

Logan has been an undeiable improvement for returns, but I would still like to see Burnett get a chance. I'm pretty certain that Logan is a one year solution unless he starts to do a Devon Hester or Josh Cribbs impersonation real soon.

I would love for you to be right on Burnett as a returner, but from what I remember, didn't he put together a Willie Reidesque preseason on punt returns?

I don't know about punt returns, it seems that Logan is the guy for the rest of this season. I would like to see Beunett get some reps versus the Raiders at cornerback this weekend though. If nothing else, it may light a fire under Willie Gay and get him pick it up a bit. He was handed the job without much competition for the spot.

Pappy

I agree with you there. It would be nice to see if Burnett could contribute a bit, at least in obvious passing situations.

I'd like to see it too, but with our backs to the wall it only makes sense to go with thre devil that you know.

NJ-STEELER
12-04-2009, 06:40 PM
i'm really intrigued by K Lew. glad to see he's at least making plays in practice


he's got the size to play CB for us. depending on how he's developing might decide if we draft a CB with a high pick.

ALSO, i think a replacement for farrior should be drafted too. dont know if i want to spend a # 1 on it though.

we have a 1, mid 2, and a player (debo) that plays like a high #1 pick. with that much talent around, IMO it wouldn't take much to be a force at ILB (eg. jerry olsavsky).
I'd be happy with a 3rd/4th rd thumper ala earl holmes

phillyesq
12-04-2009, 07:31 PM
i'm really intrigued by K Lew. glad to see he's at least making plays in practice


he's got the size to play CB for us. depending on how he's developing might decide if we draft a CB with a high pick.

ALSO, i think a replacement for farrior should be drafted too. dont know if i want to spend a # 1 on it though.

we have a 1, mid 2, and a player (debo) that plays like a high #1 pick. with that much talent around, IMO it wouldn't take much to be a force at ILB (eg. jerry olsavsky).
I'd be happy with a 3rd/4th rd thumper ala earl holmes

What is wrong with Fox?

winwithd
12-04-2009, 11:46 PM
I agree. What about Fox?

I was thinking about that this week. Would it work if we play Fox on certain downs or in certain situations to give Farrior a break so that he might be fresher in the 4th quarter? Or is Farrior just that much superior to Fox? We need to fix this 4th quarter lack of D. How about giving Farrior all week off from practice like they do with Hines?

I agree that ILB needs to be high on the draft list if we don't think Fox will be the answer.

RuthlessBurgher
12-05-2009, 12:49 AM
I agree. What about Fox?

I was thinking about that this week. Would it work if we play Fox on certain downs or in certain situations to give Farrior a break so that he might be fresher in the 4th quarter? Or is Farrior just that much superior to Fox? We need to fix this 4th quarter lack of D. How about giving Farrior all week off from practice like they do with Hines?

I agree that ILB needs to be high on the draft list if we don't think Fox will be the answer.

Hines doesn't take all week off from practice. He takes Wednesdays off. So does Farrior and Deshea.

BradshawsHairdresser
12-05-2009, 09:18 PM
LeBeau is in denial about Farrior. Two years ago is a long time when one's skills are deteriorating rapidly. Farrior has lost a step, it's evident to almost everyone except our Defensive Coordinator. I appreciate what he's done in the past (as well as what he continues to do well), but it's obvious he is no longer an every-down player, and the Steelers had better be looking to groom someone to help at ILB.

He's also in denial about the defense. He can crow "We're #3" all he wants, but we're seeing this D regularly collapse late in games.

Oviedo
12-06-2009, 10:46 AM
LeBeau is in denial about Farrior. Two years ago is a long time when one's skills are deteriorating rapidly. Farrior has lost a step, it's evident to almost everyone except our Defensive Coordinator. I appreciate what he's done in the past (as well as what he continues to do well), but it's obvious he is no longer an every-down player, and the Steelers had better be looking to groom someone to help at ILB.

He's also in denial about the defense. He can crow "We're #3" all he wants, but we're seeing this D regularly collapse late in games.

:Agree What concerns me is statements like LeBeau is making. There are some issues and we won't fix them if they are not confronted. Of course LeBeau is not going to throw Farrior under the bus but hopefully outside of of public statement there is acknowledgement that something is wrong with the defense.

The absence of Troy could be the reason but that is very concerning that we have a single point of failure on the defense. The relaity is that Troy will probably always miss games every season because of the way he plays. We need to take that into account and either have a personnel or schematic solution. That is Lebeau's job and this season he gets a "B" grade at best.

That is not good enough which is why 18 points is the difference between us being a 5 loss team and a 1 loss team.