View Full Version : Steelers offensive linemen banged up again

11-23-2010, 03:04 AM
Steelers offensive linemen banged up again
By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Monday, November 22, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 10469.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_710469.html)

The Steelers came out of their 35-3 win over the Raiders in relatively good health.

The game did take its toll on the unit that has been hit hardest with injuries this season.

Center Maurkice Pouncey (knee contusion), left guard Chris Kemoeatu (cramps) and left tackle Jonathan Scott (ankle) all missed part of yesterday's game because of injuries.

The good news for the Steelers is none of the injuries appears to be serious, and Pouncey said it is unlikely he will need an MRI to assess any damage to his left knee.

The injuries, while minor, did force the Steelers to do some shuffling along the offensive line, which has become a weekly ritual.

At one point yesterday, the Steelers had Trai Essex at left guard, Ramon Foster at right guard and Doug Legursky at center.

Foster started in place of Essex yesterday at right guard, and coach Mike Tomlin said his decision at that position was not dictated by injuries.

"Trai was below the line," Tomlin said. "We'll assess (Foster's) work and proceed from there. We need winning performances from everybody."

11-24-2010, 03:53 PM
I liked the fact that Kemo b!tch-slapped Seymour and that Colon ran onto the field in Ben's defense. :tt2

I also liked the way Ramon Foster and Flozell played together on the right side... :Clap

On the Steelers: Tomlin thrilled by team's response

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on his team: "They're going to protect one another when someone's been wronged. That's just human nature."

The new get-tough NFL now has established the price of sucker-punching a starting quarterback long after a play ends. If you are willing to pay $25,000, step right up and take your shot.

That was, in effect, what league officials decided when they fined Oakland defensive tackle Richard Seymour that amount for punching quarterback Ben Roethlisberger long after rookie Emmanuel Sanders caught his 22-yard touchdown pass Sunday.

There was no suspension and only an itty-bitty fine for a player who will make $12.4 million this year and one who has a history of such behavior. The NFL fined him $10,000 for a hit on Cleveland's Jerome Harrison after a play ended last December.

The latest fine represents .002 of Seymour's salary this season, akin to a guy who makes $124,000 getting a speeding ticket of $250. The sting of it may fade quickly.

Mike Tomlin did not want to comment on Seymour's fine, but he did have something to say about how his players responded. They included an open-hand slap to Seymour's face by guard Chris Kemoeatu, who was penalized for it, and injured reserve member Willie Colon charged onto the field in street clothes.

"That's what 'team' is about," Tomlin said. "Am I shocked that they responded the way they responded? No. Am I excited they responded the way they responded? I expect them to be good teammates. That's part of being good teammates. They're going to protect one another when someone's been wronged. That's just human nature. These guys work extremely hard together. They're close personally and professionally, so why should we be surprised by the type of response that occurred in the stadium on Sunday? It's very natural. I'm glad both teams were able to move on from it and continue to play the football game."

Tomlin takes different route
Unlike last season when Tomlin promised changes would be made before a game in Cleveland and then made none, the coach promised none last week and made several.

Ramon Foster replaced Trai Essex as the starting right guard. Rookie Emmanuel Sanders moved up to No. 3 wide receiver over Antwaan Randle El. Rookie Antonio Brown returned punts. The changes included a full practice in pads last Wednesday for the first time since early in the season.

Tomlin said Foster will remain the starter at right guard and praised Sanders for his play and his reaction to adversity.

"We liked the intensity," Tomlin said of Foster. "We liked the physical presence that he provided. We liked the way that he and Flozell [Adams] worked together. We'll push forward."

Sanders caught his second touchdown pass in two games.

"He's made plays when given an opportunity," Tomlin said. "He continues to prove it's not too big for him. More than anything, as much as those things, when he makes a mistake he doesn't go in the tank and he usually rebounds from it relatively quickly.

"He put a ball on the ground in Miami and rebounded from it relatively quickly. He dropped the first ball thrown to him on Sunday. He quickly rebounded. Not only is it not too big for him, he doesn't shadow box; he doesn't ride the emotional roller coaster. He tends to bounce back from failures pretty quickly. All of those things are kind of attractive to go along with the talent that we all see."

Adams' approach a hit
The Steelers signed Flozell Adams, 35, to a one-year contract after Colon's Achilles tendon tore in June. Adams not only started all 10 games at offensive right tackle, he has performed above the Steelers' expectations.

"He's done maybe even better than we anticipated," Tomlin said of the Dallas Cowboys' longtime left tackle. "He's an old dog learning a new trick, if you will, playing on the right side. He's been very stable, been a stabilizing presence for us, has a nice demeanor that we like.

"He plays. He's competitive. He's only concerned about winning. I like guys like that. This guy made a lot of money, has a lot of accolades, been on some high-profile teams. None of that seems to be overly important to him right now. He just wants to win and do whatever he can to help us do so."

Medical report
Brett Keisel and Will Allen should return to play Sunday in Buffalo, but rookie Antonio Brown is not likely to suit up.

Tomlin issued mostly good news on his team's health. Keisel, who missed four of the past five games with a hamstring injury, is "going to be a full participant here in the early portion of the week and be available to play, so that's a good thing."

Allen has been cleared after missing the past two games with concussions. No. 2 tight end Matt Spaeth, however, has a concussion and will undergo tests.

Three linemen left the game Sunday at various times, but all are expected to play, including center Maurkice Pouncey, who has what Tomlin said is a bruised thigh.

Brown has swelling on his knee and combined with the return of Allen likely will not suit up Sunday. Troy Polamalu's Achilles tendon, listed as strained last week, "is still the same." Polamalu played a full game, but Tomlin said he will not go through a full practice early this week.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10328/11 ... z16ENluQqH (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10328/1105729-66.stm#ixzz16ENluQqH)

11-25-2010, 03:47 PM
Adams serves as stabilizing influence

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Flozell Adams
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Walking wounded

No Steelers' unit has been hit harder with injuries than the offensive line. The Steelers have started five different combinations up front through 10 games. Here are some key losses the line has had to endure.

Willie Colon, RT: Ruptured his Achilles tendon in late June while working out at the Steelers' facility; had started 54 consecutive games before the Steelers placed him on injured reserve.

Max Starks, LT: Missed second game after spraining his ankle in the season opener; Had season-ending surgery after suffering a disc injury in his neck against the Bengals on Nov. 8.

Trai Essex, RG: Missed four games after suffering a high-ankle sprain in late September at Tampa Bay; has since lost his starting job to Ramon Foster.

Chris Kemoeatu, LG: Knee and ankle injuries sidelined sixth-year veteran for Patriots game; missed time during an early-September game against the Titans because of a knee injury.

Less than an hour before a recent Steelers practice, Flozell Adams is sacked out in front of his locker.

A do not disturb sign is hardly necessary considering that the hulking lineman does not readily grant interviews when he is awake.

"Sometimes when an old dog sits on the porch, he just wants to be left alone," Willie Colon, two lockers away, says with a smile. "Right now, he just wants to be left alone, so heed the warning."

Adams has done anything but sleep on the job since signing with the Steelers right before training camp. He has shored up a position that became an Adams-sized question mark when Colon went down in June with season-ending Achilles injury.

And the 6-foot-7, 338-pounder has made a relatively seamless transition to right tackle after playing left tackle in 12 previous seasons with the Cowboys, consistently grading well while starting every game this season.

Adams had been flagged for just three penalties through 10 games. The next holding call on the player nicknamed "Hotel" will be his first one as a Steeler.

"He's done maybe better than we anticipated," coach Mike Tomlin said of Adams. "He's been a stabilizing presence for us. He's an old dog learning a new trick, if you will."

Adams, 35, is the oldest player on the Steelers, but age and the fact that he had become so accustomed to protecting his quarterback's blind side are not the only factors that made his move to right tackle a calculated gamble.

He had to learn different techniques while developing cohesion with new linemen without the benefit of any offseason practices.

The degree of difficulty involved with a move from left to right tackle is such that Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler said, "It would be like writing with your left hand all the time, and someone saying, 'Hey, turn around and write with your right hand.' He attacked that when he came to training camp. He poured his heart into it."

Adams' heart had been with the Cowboys prior to his arrival in Pittsburgh.

Adams started 173 games for Dallas from 1998-2009 and made five Pro Bowls, but the Cowboys released him last April.

The injury to Colon, who had started every game at right tackle since the end of the '06 season, led the Steelers to sign Adams to a two-year, $7.5 million contract.

Adams didn't balk at changing positions even though he became the most accomplished player on the Steelers' offensive line before his first practice with the team.

"Immediately," Adams said, "this was the organization I wanted to come to."

The reason for that, Adams said, is simple: he wants to win a Super Bowl.

The single-mindedness he has applied to that quest as well as mastering a new position has endeared him to Tomlin.

"This guy's made a lot of money, has got a lot of accolades and has been on some high profile teams," said Tomlin, who is only three years older than Adams. "None of that appears to be overly important to him right now. He just wants to win and do whatever he can to help us do so."

Adams has apparently meshed with his fellow offensive linemen as well off the field as he has on it.

Despite the intimidating persona and the wary if not perturbed look that an interview request sometimes elicits, his teammates said Adams has fit right in with a tight and fun-loving group.

"He has a dry sense of humor, and he'll say some off the wall stuff that will get everybody cracked up," Kugler said.

What has turned out to be anything but off the wall: the notion that a player in the twilight of a decorated career could, well, learn a new trick.

"It was real tough at the beginning," Adams said of the move to right tackle. "It's like anything else: you've got to keep working at it and plugging away the best you can. It's finally starting to come."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 10912.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_710912.html)

11-26-2010, 10:27 AM
I'd sign Adams for another year and try to resign Colon to play Right Guard. Adams has played better RT than Colon ever did but put those two next to each other and you would have a dominant right side of the OL.

I would not be surprised to see then dress an extra OL for the next couple of games as a way to deal with the numerous in game injuries as they occur. Sooner or later one of those guys aren't going to be able to get back on to the field and we will need the extra body.

11-26-2010, 11:57 AM
the steelers have Adams under contract for next year (at 5 mil). it may be a team option, but if we want him, we have him.

11-26-2010, 06:28 PM
the steelers have Adams under contract for next year (at 5 mil). it may be a team option, but if we want him, we have him.

Yup...it was a 2 year, $7.5 million deal. This year at $2.5 million and a team option for $5 million next year.

With Colon unsigned beyond this year and a health question mark following a nasty Achilles injury, and considering how well Hotel has adjusted in his short time here, I think it is safe to say that they will exercise the option on Flozell, giving him one more year in the black and gold (unless, of course, he decides to pull a Bettis and retire when we win the Super Bowl in his old Dallas stomping grounds).

:tt2 :tt1

11-27-2010, 12:29 AM
Analyzing the O-Line: Another Week, Another Crazy Shuffle

Posted on November 25, 2010 by JJ

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope today is a great day for everyone full of turkey, plenty of football, family and friends.

And Iím thankful that on Thanksgiving, I can write about a very solid effort by the Steelersí o-line instead of the debacle that was the Patriotsí game. The Raiders gave the Steelers the kind of challenge that Pittsburgh prefers to haveĖthey lined up with their front four and expected to pressure Ben Roethlisberger consistently withhout resorting to blitzing. To make it even better, they then matched up man-to-man in the secondary (especially when the Steelers went to their four and five-wide receiver packages), which gave Roethlisberger plenty of room to run if he decided to tuck the ball and take off.

The result? The Raiders sacked Roethlisberger only twice all game, and both of the sacks were due more with the play call and coverage than any fault of the line. I counted only seven pass plays where Roethlisberger was pressured. By my count the Raiders rushed three men twice, four men 26 times, five men three times and six men three times. Roethlisberger was 1-of-3 against six man rushes and 2-of-3 against five-man blitzes. Surprisingly, one of the two sacks came against a three-man rush (he was 1-for-1 against them when he got the ball off) and he was 16-for-22 against four-man rushes.

This offensive line wants to face a team that lines up in a 4-3 and rushes with its four linemen. Blitzing and hiding where the pressure is going to come from gives the Steelersí line fits, partly because as a quite large and relatively immobile group, itís hard for the guards and tackles to start blocking one guy, hand him off and quickly pivot to block another man in another direction. But if a defensive tackle wants to line up and just try to blow a guard off the ball? Thatís the best possible scenario for the Steelers.

Thatís generally what Oakland tried to do, and we can only hope the Steelers are lucky enough to face more teams in the second half that decide to leave the blitz at home.

What Oakland did against the running game was much more difficult to handle. The Raiders lined up a lot in 4-3 under, with one of the defensive tackles lined up on center Maurkice Pouncey. Partly that was to ensure that Pouncey was tasked with blocking a defensive lineman instead of a linebacker (something heís much better at than the Steelersí starting guards). On top of that, the Raidersí linebackers were very aggressive at shooting gaps to attempt to disrupt the play in the backfield. One of the two ďinsideĒ linebackers (technically the weak or the middle linebacker) would shoot the gap while the other would read and try to fill following up behind him.

Thankfully for Pittsburgh, fullback David Johnson had maybe his best game of the season. Several times Johnson managed to deflect the hard-charging linebacker, giving Mendenhall time to let the hole open up. When he did meet a linebacker in the hole, Johnson also did a better job of driving him out of the hole. Maybe because of that, Mendenhall did a better job of following Johnson as well.

Before rolling out the overall numbers, I also wanted to just point out what a good job offensive line coach Sean Kugler is doing. There have been years where the Steelers have been able to line up the same five offensive linemen week in and week out. And when there have been injuries, usually in the past itís been one guy going down and another stepping up.

This yearís laundry list of injuries has made Kuglerís job much tougher than that. There have been multiple injuries on multiple weeks. Just this week, we saw Chris Kemoeatu, Maurkice Pouncey and Jonathan Scott all go down at different points in the game.

Hereís the overall numbers for last Sunday:

Player Good Plays Total Plays Pct.
Legursky Pass 11 11 100.00%
Spaeth Pass 5 5 100.00%
Moore Pass 3 3 100.00%
Miller Pass 2 2 100.00%
Mendenhall Pass 1 1 100.00%
Pouncey Pass 22 23 95.65%
Adams Pass 32 34 94.12%
Foster Pass 29 34 85.29%
Kemoeatu Pass 23 27 85.19%
Scott Pass 26 31 83.87%
Essex Pass 7 10 70.00%
Player Good Plays Total Plays Pct.
Mendenhall Run 0 0 100.00%
Moore Run 0 0 100.00%
Spaeth Run 21 24 87.50%
Adams Run 27 32 84.38%
Pouncey Run 12 15 80.00%
Johnson Run 12 15 80.00%
Scott Run 22 30 73.33%
Miller Run 22 30 73.33%
Foster Run 22 32 68.75%
Kemoeatu Run 16 25 64.00%
Legursky Run 8 15 53.33%
Essex Run 3 8 37.50%
Player Good Plays Total Plays Pct.
Moore Total 3 3 100.00%
Mendenhall Total 1 1 100.00%
Spaeth Total 26 29 89.66%
Pouncey Total 34 38 89.47%
Flozell Total 59 66 89.39%
Johnson Total 12 15 80.00%
Scott Total 48 61 78.69%
Foster Total 51 66 77.27%
Kemoeatu Total 39 52 75.00%
Miller Total 24 32 75.00%
Legursky Total 19 26 73.08%
Essex Total 10 18 55.56%

As far as the pressures, hereís how I broke them down. I didnít blame either of the sacks on any particular linemanĖone was a play-action bootleg where the linebacker rushed instead of following Hines Ward (who was coming across the field in a play that is a staple of every NFL teamís playbook). If the linebacker doesnít take the wide receiver, than the receiver is supposed to be open for a quick pass. Roethlisberger decided to look further downfield, and that gave Lamarr Houston time to sack him. On the other one, Roethlisberger was given decent time, couldnít find anyone open, then tried to step up in the pocket, which ruined blocking angles and led to a sack.

Sorry for how these pressures displayĖours seems to be the only WordPress installation that doesnít understand that table widths can be less than 100 percent of the width of the text.

Scott 3
Adams 2
Foster 2
Kemoeatu 1
Pouncey 1
Essex 1

Now on to the individual comments.

The first thing most everyone is going to want to know is how did Ramon Foster do. A week ago, we talked about how Trai Essex was playing very poorly in the running game (the post was entitled, Trai Essex, you are the weakest link). Thankfully, coach Mike Tomlin decided to shake things up and give Foster a try. Foster wasnít great, which isnít surprisingĖno backup offensive lineman on this team has greatness in their future, but he also wasnít awful. His problems were generally ones of mobility (and the aggressiveness of the Raidersí line). When Foster tried to pull, the Raiders often had the defensive linemen lined up against him shoot the opening gap, so Foster would peel back to block him. That would disrupt the play, but I canít blame him too much for avoiding the carnage of a lineman in the backfield unblocked.

Foster also had a poor cut block, some problems getting to linebackers to lock them up and a couple of pass plays where he was driven into the backfield. But overall, he was solid enough and looks deserving of another start.

The Steelersí other fill-in Jonathan Scott had another workmanlike effort. Watching Scott reminds you of seeing a slightly-drunk knife thrower at the circus. You worry that at any moment youíre going to see some carnage, but usually it works out. Scott often sets the corner in pass blocking, but because of his lack of balance and speed, he too often sets it too close to Roethlisberger. So play-in and play-out, heís within a step or two of causing a sack or a pressure. But most of the time, he manages to maintain his base, stop the rusher two steps from Roethlisberger and everythingís fine. When he fails to keep his center of gravity low enough, then he gets driven backwards and weíre looking at a play where Roethlisberger has to step up, slide over or otherwise get away.

The good news is even in most of those cases, Scott still is blocking his man, so itís generally something that Roethlisberger (who has the pocket escapability of Houdini) can handle. Scott was also flagged for holding.

In the run game, Scott is fine with blocking down on unsuspecting defensive tackles or handling a man heís lined head up on. And heís not bad at going to find a linebacker. But if heís asked to do a reach block he has problems. Admittedly, the reach block is one of the tougher blocks to pull off, as you are trying to get the outside shoulder of a lineman on your outside.

At this point, Iíve learned to accept Flozell Adams for what he is. There are plays where he looks like he decided he needed to take a siesta, but generally he has enough strength and savvy to make it work. Heís been very consistent and he handled the Raiders defensive ends with very little help.

Chris Kemoeatuís grades look bad this week, but partly thatís because he was lined up primarily against Richard Seymour in the first half (one of the best defensive tackles in the game), and partly because he struggled in his first couple of plays back into the game after he left with an injury.

Itís great news to hear that Maurkice Pouncey didnít suffer a serious injury. Pouncey was as solid as ever when he was in the game. When he was out, Doug Legursky started well, but quickly ran into trouble trying to root out big defensive tackles.

When Trai Essex came into the game to replace Jonathan Scott, he blew his block on three of the five playsĖdonít anyone be screaming for Essex to replace Scott at left tackle anytime soon. Yes, he does play with better balance, but Scott appears to be quicker and a better fit for the outside. Essex was a little better when he replaced Kemoeatu inside. On the 13 plays at that position, his man made the tackle on at least two of them and he was also flagged for a personal foul.

The backs did a solid job in blitz pickup, they just didnít have much to do. As far as the tight ends, Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth had some successes and some struggles, but at this point it would be hard to say that Miller is a better blocker than Spaeth.

http://www.steelerslounge.com/2010/11/a ... y-shuffle/ (http://www.steelerslounge.com/2010/11/analyzing-oline-week-crazy-shuffle/)

11-27-2010, 01:07 AM
I'd sign Adams for another year and try to resign Colon to play Right Guard. Adams has played better RT than Colon ever did but put those two next to each other and you would have a dominant right side of the OL.

I would not be surprised to see then dress an extra OL for the next couple of games as a way to deal with the numerous in game injuries as they occur. Sooner or later one of those guys aren't going to be able to get back on to the field and we will need the extra body.
so you'd plug another tackle in at guard. a tackle who has never, and whose coaches have said will never be a guard...?

11-27-2010, 02:03 PM
I'd sign Adams for another year and try to resign Colon to play Right Guard. Adams has played better RT than Colon ever did but put those two next to each other and you would have a dominant right side of the OL.

I would not be surprised to see then dress an extra OL for the next couple of games as a way to deal with the numerous in game injuries as they occur. Sooner or later one of those guys aren't going to be able to get back on to the field and we will need the extra body.
so you'd plug another tackle in at guard. a tackle who has never, and whose coaches have said will never be a guard...?

For what it's worth, it was Larry Zeirlein who said that. Perhaps Sean Kugler has a different opinion.