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fordfixer
05-02-2010, 09:58 AM
Steelers Minicamp: There's a fullback on roster
Sunday, May 02, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10122/1054921-66.stm

No rookie on the Steelers' 90-man minicamp roster faces the dichotomy that confronts Demetrius Taylor, an undrafted defensive tackle from Virginia Tech.

Taylor is the only fullback listed on the Steelers' 90-man roster, a position he has never played and which the team's coordinator says will never exist in his offense.

"There's not a fullback on the roster," Bruce Arians declared three days before the Steelers opened the 2009 season. "There's a running back who plays fullback, a tight end who plays fullback. I don't have a fullback. There's no fullback in my offense, there's never going to be one."

In this minicamp there is one, precisely one. Taylor actually played fullback one year -- as a high school freshman. He then moved to running back and linebacker, went to Virginia Tech as a linebacker and moved to defensive tackle. At 6 feet, 270-something, he is not big enough to play that position in the pros.

Nevertheless, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin saw something during the Virginia Tech pro workout day and asked Taylor if he thought he could play fullback.

"He had the explosive, fullback-type movements," Tomlin said. "He ran a 4.70 in the 40, he had a 9-something broad jump, he kind of looked like a fullback. I asked him if he had a [running-back] background. He said he did, he was one in high school, he was recruited as one."

He has been recruited as one again, the only listed fullback on a team that supposedly will try to run the ball more consistently (per Steelers president Art Rooney's instructions). Other players have lined up at the position in games, but only Taylor is listed as a fullback. Tight ends David Johnson and Sean McHugh and running back Frank Summers have played fullback, and the Steelers are taking a look at running back Isaac Redman there as well.

Arians was declared off-limits on the topic this weekend, and Tomlin scoffed at what his coordinator said last September about the fullback position.

"We got fullbacks. You guys take him too literally sometimes," said Tomlin.

Last season, before the Steelers let him go as a free agent without making an offer, halfback Willie Parker talked about how much better it was for him and others to run behind a true fullback. He decried the loss of it in the Steelers' offense.

Tomlin said those types of pure fullbacks are tough to find.

"Those high school fullbacks are playing different positions on college football teams because very few teams employ a fullback," Tomlin said. "So you have to turn over a stone or two and find out who is that kind of animal."

Tomlin turned a 270-pound stone over to discover Taylor.

"He has nice quick-twitch," Tomlin explained. "We won't know until we know, that's the reality of it. We were excited to give him an opportunity."

If Taylor can pull it off, he would not become the first to do so, but would join the few.

"When I was in Detroit, we had a defensive lineman come in and convert to fullback and did well, Jon Bradley," said McHugh, a Lion before he became a Steeler.

Indeed, Bradley played defensive tackle for Tampa Bay from 2004 through 2006 (Tomlin being on that staff for two of those years) before he went to Detroit and switched to fullback. He played fullback for the Lions in 2007, listed as 6 feet 1, 301 pounds. He played in 15 games that season, started six.

Defensive lineman Dan Klecko also has played some spot fullback for the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles.

So, why not Demetrius Taylor?

"I was pretty good," Taylor said, recalling the one year he played the position. "I could go out there and make some big-time blocks."

The Steelers will need some of those to get their running game in gear.


NOTES -- Quarterback Byron Leftwich continued to run with the first team. ... Bryant McFadden promised to remunerate Keenan Lewis for giving him his No. 20 back, but neither will say how much it cost him. Lewis switched to No. 23. ... Rookie C Maurkice Pouncey, now wearing No. 53, is trying to convince linebacker Patrick Bailey to give him his No 55. ... Don Henderson, the agent for kicker Jeff Reed, will arrive here this week to try to move negotiations along with Kevin Colbert for a contract extension. Reed signed his one-year tender as the team's franchise player.

skyhawk
05-02-2010, 10:02 AM
:HeadBanger

Flasteel
05-02-2010, 11:48 AM
Sounds to me that Tomlin and Arians don't quite see eye-to-eye on the subject. If nothing else, we need to at least have someone who can be a situational FB and can light some linebackers up in the hole. Hopefully this guy or one of the others can fill that niche.

Discipline of Steel
05-02-2010, 11:57 AM
Sounds to me that Tomlin and Arians don't quite see eye-to-eye on the subject. If nothing else, we need to at least have someone who can be a situational FB and can light some linebackers up in the hole. Hopefully this guy or one of the others can fill that niche.

Just to use an arguement others have offered in regards to Stefan Logan...is a situational fullback worth using a roster spot for? We all know how Tomlin likes flexibility. :stirpot

hawaiiansteel
05-02-2010, 04:16 PM
i love this quote:


"There's not a fullback on the roster," Bruce Arians declared three days before the Steelers opened the 2009 season. "There's a running back who plays fullback, a tight end who plays fullback. I don't have a fullback. There's no fullback in my offense, there's never going to be one."

Shawn
05-02-2010, 04:41 PM
i love this quote:


"There's not a fullback on the roster," Bruce Arians declared three days before the Steelers opened the 2009 season. "There's a running back who plays fullback, a tight end who plays fullback. I don't have a fullback. There's no fullback in my offense, there's never going to be one."


I think BA jokes around quite a bit. I don't think this is a case where Tomlin wants to have a fullback and Arians doesn't. This is a case where Arians knows what the public opinion is on him and FBs...and he's playing around a bit with it.

Lebsteel
05-02-2010, 06:17 PM
Sounds to me that Tomlin and Arians don't quite see eye-to-eye on the subject. If nothing else, we need to at least have someone who can be a situational FB and can light some linebackers up in the hole. Hopefully this guy or one of the others can fill that niche.

Just to use an arguement others have offered in regards to Stefan Logan...is a situational fullback worth using a roster spot for? We all know how Tomlin likes flexibility. :stirpot
Well...I've read where Taylor was a very good ST guy at Va Tech, so maybe he would be a good wedge buster on kickoffs? If he proves to be a good ST player and a capable blocker, I think he makes the team.

SS Laser
05-02-2010, 06:22 PM
I thought the wedge was outlawed last yr? I know there was some kind of ST rule change?

hawaiiansteel
05-02-2010, 06:53 PM
I thought the wedge was outlawed last yr? I know there was some kind of ST rule change?



that is correct, the wedge was outlawed last year.




No wedge means major adjustment for kickoff units

By Vic Carucci | NFL.com


Special teams coaches throughout the NFL are having a particularly busy offseason.

Since league owners voted in March to outlaw the use of a blocking wedge involving three or more players on kickoff returns, the men who choreograph the organized chaos that is the kicking game have been working on and teaching alternative tactics to be used during the 2009 season.

"It's a big change," Chicago Bears special teams coach Dave Toub said.

Renowned Buffalo Bills special teams coach Bobby April said the wedge has been "the essence of the kickoff return, the point of attack. So to eliminate that part is really eliminating a big part of that particular play."

But the league's competition committee determined that too many players were being injured, either while colliding with the wedge or from being a part of it, and recommended its banishment for safety reasons. Now, having any more than two blockers within two yards of each other on the same plane in front of a kickoff returner will result in a 15-yard penalty.

The challenge facing Toub, April, and the rest of the NFL's special teams brain trust is figuring out how to do more, or at least as much, with less. Most teams had a minimum of three players closely bunched in front of the return man, forming a human plow blade (or wedge) to clear a path through the first wave of would-be tacklers. Others would use four and, in rare cases, as many as five.

For the Bills, who consistently used a three-man wedge, it wouldn't seem like such a big deal to take away one member of that group. But it is.

"The wedge is like the offensive line," April said. "For us, we have to reduce that line by 33 percent. What would happen if you reduced the offensive line in the running game by 33 percent? Or, in the case of a four-man wedge, what if you reduced it by 50 percent? You'd have a little different running game."

April and several other special-teams coaches in the NFL anticipate that there will be a noticeable decrease in average yards per kickoff return, at least during the 2009 season while clubs become acclimated with the new rule. That's a very big deal for an offensive-challenged team such as the Bills, who rely so heavily on favorable field position. Thanks in large part to strong kick returns, the Bills led the league in average drive start last season.

Back-to-the-future approach
Removing the wedge doesn't necessarily mean teams can't be successful on kickoff returns. It just requires some different strategies.

"The offseason is where we really look at it and practice some different things," Toub said. "Everybody's working on it. We have a system right now that we're practicing. We're kind of tweaking it."

Other rules changes
The elimination of the blocking wedge isn't the only rule change that will impact the kicking game during the 2009 NFL season.

There are two others: Teams no longer will be allowed to bunch players to one side of the line on onsides-kick attempts and a 15-yard penalty will be assessed for a blindside (or peel-back) block involving helmet, forearm, or shoulder contact with the head of a defender on returns.

The Buffalo Bills were about the only team that did bunching for onsides kicks. They would tightly pack five players between the hash marks on either side of kicker Rian Lindell. As his quick pooch kick rolled the requisite 10 yards, he and his 10 teammates would converge on it like an avalanche, which was what Bills special teams coach Bobby April called the tactic. The league's competition committee determined it was too much of an injury risk -- particularly for the receiving team -- but that seems debatable given that few, if any other teams, do onsides-kick bunching.

Several special teams coaches are concerned that officials will have a difficult time determining when to penalize blockers for making contact with the head of would-be tacklers given how often and dramatically that returners change directions.

--Vic Carucci
Many special teams coaches expect the bulk of the league to take a back-to-the-future approach, with clubs reviving the "match return" that was popular in the mid- to late-1990s. The tactic simply had 10 blockers each matching up with 10 members of the coverage unit while the returner ran through the first opening he found rather than the zone concept of trying to outnumber would-be tacklers in a given area with three or more blockers.

"It was almost like a punt return where each blocker had a guy, he tried to hold him up, and the returner ran for daylight," April said. "I could see where people could end up doing a lot of that, because it's been a successful return in this league fairly recently."

"You're going to see more man schemes," Toub said. "Everybody will have a man. There won't be any more zone blocking with the wedge."

Don't be surprised if some clubs try taking advantage of a loophole in how the banning of the wedge will be enforced. April recently spoke with NFL director of officiating Mike Pereira, who explained that officials will watch how the blocking forms at the time the return man fields the ball and determine whether there is a violation at that point. A flag won't be thrown if only two blockers are within two yards of each other, on the same plane, in front of the returner. And it wouldn't be a violation if two additional blockers were positioned in front of the other set of two, turning the wedge into sort of a box, when the ball is caught. That is a conclusion that special teams coaches have drawn from watching a DVD that league officiating crews have been showing to coaches as examples of what will and won't be penalized.

"I think that could be something people start trying to go to," Tennessee Titans special teams coach Alan Lowry said. "It's going to be interesting."

Tougher adjustment for some teams than others

The Titans probably face the easiest transition, because their kickoff-return strategy is as varied as any in the league. They have used combinations of five, four, three, and even two blockers mostly in an effort to keep the opposition off-balance from week-to-week and return-to-return.

"Most of the time, when we went with just two, it was so that we could start right into the middle of the field and then be able to bounce one way or the other," Lowry said. "We'd tell our guys which way were going to bounce, and try to set up blocks (accordingly)."

One team that relied heavily on wedge-style returns, and could have the hardest time adjusting to the new rule, is the New York Giants. Giants frequently used a four-man wedge, and asked their kickoff returners to pretty much attack the first opening he found up the middle. The same is true with the Bears' Danieal Manning, who has done extremely well behind a three-man wedge.

So far, there are no plans to take them off kickoff returns or reduce their involvement. However, it wouldn't be a shock to see the Bears employ Devin Hester, whose free-wheeling return style makes him one of the more dangerous punt returners in the NFL, on more kickoff returns.

Bigger changes are expected to occur among the blockers that teams use.

"It'll be different type guys back there, probably a little bit more athletic," Toub said. "You'd use D-linemen or O-linemen at times, but now you can't use those guys because they've got to be able to block in space. One of those two guys is going to probably be more of an athletic type of guy because he's got to be able to block a man in space -- a linebacker, fullback type of guy."

Consequently, larger and less athletic players who are near the bottom of the depth charts at their respective positions are less likely to be activated on game day (or even make the final roster cut) than they were previously.

"It's an adjustment, but it's not anything that's going to radically change the beauty of the return."

-- Bobby April
Another area heavily impacted by the elimination of the wedge is kickoff coverage, where adjustments also are being made.

"The coverage is going to be different," Toub said. "Before, guys would come down and say, 'OK, there's the wedge, I know where the return is going.' That freed up your mind to play fast on kickoff coverage. Now when you come down, you have a man blocking you. You don't know exactly where that point of attack is. It's kind of like covering a punt where you have a guy that's blocking you down the field on a punt return. The return can actually hit anywhere so it makes coverage a lot tougher. You have to be ready to shed your man and run to the ball."

Such maneuverability will likely be taken into account when special teams coaches choose players for kickoff coverage.

Which side will have a greater advantage, the return or coverage unit? Most special teams coaches say that, for at least one season, the edge goes to the coverage guys.

"League-wide, it's going to take all of us a little while to make adjustments," April said. "Then, in a year or so, you'll start seeing an improvement. It's an adjustment, but it's not anything that's going to radically change the beauty of the return. The excitement of the return is going to be there. It's just a little bit unknown how people will adapt and how they'll deploy their guys."

http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d ... nfirm=true (http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d8104d93c&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true)

Lebsteel
05-02-2010, 07:15 PM
I thought the wedge was outlawed last yr? I know there was some kind of ST rule change?
Oops, how did I not notice that? OK, forget the wedge busting, maybe just hard hitting, schlobber-knocking tackler?

Pahn711
05-03-2010, 06:00 AM
i love this quote:


"There's not a fullback on the roster," Bruce Arians declared three days before the Steelers opened the 2009 season. "There's a running back who plays fullback, a tight end who plays fullback. I don't have a fullback. There's no fullback in my offense, there's never going to be one."


I think BA jokes around quite a bit. I don't think this is a case where Tomlin wants to have a fullback and Arians doesn't. This is a case where Arians knows what the public opinion is on him and FBs...and he's playing around a bit with it.

I don't think BA has any room to "play around" on this subject. I'm also not so sure we need a true fullback to run more. I mean, considering the multiple tight end/wr sets that Arians runs, wouldn't bringing in a true fullback take away any element of surprise? Its like bringing in the Bus on the goaline.

hawaiiansteel
05-05-2010, 03:12 AM
Even Steelers' Ward favors return to emphasizing run game

Wednesday, May 05, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/200905/ward2_330.jpg

Hines Ward's personal goals would be achieved more easily in an offense that leaned heavily on the pass. As he plays into his football dotage, the more he adds to his receiving statistics, the closer he can get to the Hall of Fame.

Instead, the most-productive receiver in Steelers history is the latest to join the growing list in the organization who believes the offense must run more consistently in 2010.

"Last year, we had a prolific offense," Ward noted. "We had two 1,000-yard receivers, a 1,000-yard back and a 4,000-yard quarterback, and we were out of the playoffs. Go figure that."

Others have been doing just that. It began when Steelers president Art Rooney said in January, "We need to figure out how to get better running the football."

It continued in March when coach Mike Tomlin affirmed his intent to improve his ground game.

"We've got to run the ball more effectively in critical situations because that's how we desire to play football, and it increases our chances of winning," Tomlin said. "It makes us a more dominant football team."

To that end, the Steelers spent their weekend minicamp using a variety of players at fullback -- Frank Summers, who played some there as a rookie; converted rookie defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor, running back Isaac Redman and tight ends David Johnson and Sean McHugh, who have played the position for the Steelers.

"I see us working on it more in walk-throughs," Summers said of the running game. "There's more emphasis on it, we're going over it in meetings."

Other circumstances should speed the process, including the suspension of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for at least the first four games of the season and the trade of receiver Santonio Holmes.

Ward sees the Steelers running more, particularly in the early part of the season when Roethlisberger is not available.

"Yeah, I do, just to be more balanced. I mean it's great to put up numbers but to complement our defense -- who weren't as powerful as they normally are -- we have to control the ball more, time of possession. I suspect we can."

Ward believes Roethlisberger's desire and ability to pass influenced some of the strategy.

"We don't try to throw the ball. It's just, in some cases, Ben likes to run the no-huddle and, when you run the no-huddle, you add probably about 10-15 more attempts to your passing plays. So, when he throws 20-25 times, add 10-15 more attempts by doing the spread huddle.

"It's something that works for us. We were good, we just have to be better in the red zone. I don't think we had problems driving up and down the field, but we have to do a better job when we get down in the red zone and put more focus and emphasis on that."

Ward also said they can return to a strong running game behind Rashard Mendenhall and the addition of rookie Jonathan Dwyer.

"I predict we'll be more balanced. Look for Mendenhall, for us to use a lot of him. Dwyer looks like he's coming on strong. Who knows? I would like to be a more-balanced team, I think it complements our defense and makes us a better ball team."

New helmet for Big Ben

Roethlisberger, who had been wearing a more traditional looking helmet, has switched to a Riddell Revolution Speed helmet that provides more head protection. He wore the helmet during his two spring practices April 19-20. Roethlisberger missed a game in Baltimore in November because of concussion-like symptoms from a hit the previous game.



Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10125/10 ... z0n2LCksw5 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10125/1055623-66.stm?cmpid=steelers.xml#ixzz0n2LCksw5)

costanza2k1
05-05-2010, 05:19 AM
Run or pass seems to be the question of the past few seasons. I think the right answer to this question is you should be able to pass to get up on teams and then run when you need to (to milk the clock). Seems that in our smash mouth days we could run whenever we wanted until our running backs got injured and then we couldn't pass at all. These days we're able to pass and not able opposing offenses on the sidelines with out run game. I prefer balance. I hope we get that this year.

Oviedo
05-05-2010, 08:03 AM
i love this quote:


"There's not a fullback on the roster," Bruce Arians declared three days before the Steelers opened the 2009 season. "There's a running back who plays fullback, a tight end who plays fullback. I don't have a fullback. There's no fullback in my offense, there's never going to be one."


I think BA jokes around quite a bit. I don't think this is a case where Tomlin wants to have a fullback and Arians doesn't. This is a case where Arians knows what the public opinion is on him and FBs...and he's playing around a bit with it.

I don't think BA has any room to "play around" on this subject. I'm also not so sure we need a true fullback to run more. I mean, considering the multiple tight end/wr sets that Arians runs, wouldn't bringing in a true fullback take away any element of surprise? Its like bringing in the Bus on the goaline.

I think the point that Arians tries to make is that he doesn't have aone-dimensional player who just runs into people. He wants players who have a more diverse skill set. Example is Sean McHugh who has actually played more FB for the Lions and Steelers than TE even though he is listed as a TE. He was very effective as a lead blocker in the last Super Bowl run.

I really don't want to see another Dan Kreider who looked like he was having an epileptic fit when he tried to catch the ball out of the backfield and could barely stay on his feet once he got the ball. Jerome Bettis made Kreider not vice versa. Bettis' made hi own holes and he din't need a FB but Kreider got way too much credit for that.