View Full Version : Steelers' rookie making impact

01-19-2011, 01:54 AM
Even if Mike Tomlin won't admit it, Steelers' rookie making impact
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PITTSBURGH -- Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers is not the type to pass out lollipops and put stars on the foreheads of rookies for jobs well done.

"They're doing okay," Tomlin said Tuesday when asked about his rookie class this season.

But newcomers have made contributions to a team that will play for the AFC title Sunday against the New York Jets:

* Center Maurkice Pouncey, the first-round draft pick from Florida, has started every game. He was voted to the Pro Bowl.
* Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, a third-rounder from SMU, had 28 catches for 376 yards and two touchdowns in regular season. In a playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens, he had four catches for 54 yards.
* Wide receiver Antonio Brown, a sixth-rounder from Central Michigan, primarily returned punts and kickoffs in regular season, including an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. But against Baltimore, his 58-yard reception set up the winning touchdown.
* Linebackers Jason Worilds (second round, Virginia Tech) and Stevenson Sylvester (fifth round, Utah) both have been contributors on special teams. Worilds had two sacks in the regular season. Both could be Pittsburgh linebackers of the future.

"I think all of our coaches put us in great situations," says Pouncey, at the head of the class. "They have been out here every step of the way, encouraging us and teaching us how to be professional athletes, and we've done a good job at it."

01-19-2011, 02:59 AM
Maurkice Pouncey helped Steelers gain key first down in unusual way

Posted by Mike Florio on January 18, 2011


Several of you have forwarded to us an intriguing clip from early in the fourth quarter of the division-round game between the Steelers and Ravens. And while we’re not prepared to label the maneuver depicted therein as “cheating,” it’s definitely worth pointing out the tactic employed, in the hopes that the officials will be on the lookout for such behavior in the future.

After a third-down pass from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to receiver Antonio Brown moved the ball inside the 15, the officials spotted the ball on the fourteen, with most of the ball behind the stripe on the hash mark. (It actually looked to be a bad spot; Brown seemed to get beyond the 14 when he fell.)

Enter Maurkice Pouncey. As the Steelers lined up for fourth down, Pouncey placed his hand on the ball and moved it noticeably forward, to the other side of the 14. Then, Ravens coach John Harbaugh disrupted the process, apparently because he believed the officials had given the Steelers a first down, and because Harbaugh was considering challenging it. (The more likely reality is that Harbaugh was feigning confusion so that his defense would get a look at the offensive alignment, the time-honored “time out without calling a time out” maneuver.)

Referee Jeff Triplette announced there would be no challenge to the spot because the officials had not given the Steelers a first down, which should have been obvious from the fact that the chains had not, you know, moved. A shot of the ball then showed it resting at the spot to which Pouncey had moved it before Harbaugh bought time for his defense, with most of it now on the other side of the 14-yard stripe.

Though the clip doesn’t reveal Pouncey moving it a second time (the producer cut to a shot of Roethlisberger moving the offense quickly toward the line), the next image from the traditional in-game sideline camera shows the ball entirely between the 14 and 13.

The officials then intervene, forcing the Steelers to wait to snap the ball until the Ravens have a chance to line up.

And then Pouncey puts his hand on the ball and moves it again.

In the end, fourth and one became fourth and inches, thanks to what amounted to three separate movements of the ball by Pouncey. Roethlisberger then easily converted the first down on a different kind of “sneak”.

We don’t fault Pouncey for it. We doubt that he’s the first guy to do it. Moreover, the Steelers ultimately were forced to settle for a field goal, so the only harm was the consumption of nearly two minutes in the very early portion of the final quarter.

In our view, the officials are the ones who deserve the blame here. They need to be aware of the phenomenon of centers trying to take advantage of these hidden inches, especially when his team is going for it on fourth and short.

Remember, only the best officiating crews work in the postseason. Perhaps a non-playoff crew would have allowed Pouncey to pick the ball up and carry it beyond the orange stick.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... nusual-wa/ (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/01/18/maurkice-pouncey-helped-steelers-gain-key-first-down-in-unusual-wa/)

01-19-2011, 03:38 AM

It was 4th and 1 at the start and by the time the ball was snapped it was less than a quarter yard from the orange marker.

01-19-2011, 12:05 PM
That my friends is a veteran move!!! I saw Manny Sanders doing some veteran stuff on Saturday too!!! This group of rookies seem to be ahead of their years!!! This group, in my mind, will lead the Steelers into the next decade!!! Tomlin and Colbert did a fantastic job in April and it will benefit the team for a long long time!!!

01-22-2011, 01:22 AM
Steelers' 2010 draft picks paying immediate dividends

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Antonio Brown
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Bumper crop

Early returns from the Steelers' most recent draft class have been mostly positive, as a handful of rookies have emerged as key contributors. Here is a look at the Steelers' 2010 draft.

Maurkice Pouncey, C (1st round): Has started every game and made the Pro Bowl, the first Steelers rookie OL to do so since the 1950s.

Jason Worilds, OLB (2nd): Plays primarily on special teams because of a couple of guys named James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR (3rd): Four catches in the Steelers' first eight games; 28 in the nine that have followed

Thaddeus Gibson, OLB (4th): 49ers claimed him in early September after Steelers were forced to waive him because of an injury situation

Chris Scott, OT (5th): Hasn't dressed in any games after spending first part of the season on physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

Crezdon Butler, CB (5th): Has dressed for just four games, but Steelers like his potential.

Stevenson Sylvester, LB (5th): Has made an impact as a special-teams player.

Jonathan Dwyer, RB (6th): Has only dressed for one game, gaining 28 yards on nine carries in regular-season finale at Cleveland.

Antonio Brown, WR (6th): Late-round gem turned in two of the biggest plays of the season: an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Tennessee and a 58-yard catch last Saturday against the Ravens.

Doug Worthington, DE (7th): Only player from the draft class not to spend any time on 53-man roster; spent latter part of season on Tampa Bay's practice squad.

Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders were studying their playbooks one night in early August when Ike Taylor stopped by their dorm room at St. Vincent College.

It was more than just a social call, as the veteran cornerback told the rookie wide receivers that the Steelers would need both of them in the upcoming season.

Taylor's talk proved prophetic.

Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey may be the headliner of a strong 2010 draft class, but Sanders and Brown have also emerged as key players in the Steelers' pursuit of a seventh Lombardi Tophy.

Each has earned the trust of coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And that could be significant Sunday, when New York Jets cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie try to take Hines Ward and Mike Wallace out of the Steelers' passing game.

"This could be a challenge for both Mike and I," Ward said of getting open in the AFC Championship Game. "When we are not getting looks, the younger guys, Emmanuel and Brown, they have got to step up big for us like they have all season and make plays."

Brown made one of the bigger ones of the season last Saturday when he used his helmet to help secure a 58-yard pass from Roethlisberger in an AFC divisional playoff game at Heinz Field.

Sanders hasn't done anything quite as dramatic, but he has shown steady improvement since supplanting Antwaan Randle El as the Steelers' No. 3 wide receiver.

The two close friends had been competing for one active roster spot until December — when Tomlin decided that he could no longer have one of them watching in street clothes.

"I anticipated that at some point, either due to the quality of play or injury, that there would be a point in time when we would need both of them," Tomlin said. "I didn't necessarily tell them that, but I anticipated it."

And to think Sanders and Brown had been fretting about simply making the team when Taylor paid them a visit during training camp.

"As a rookie, you've got so many emotions, and you don't know what's going on," Sanders said. "For him to tell us that, it definitely motivated us."

Added Brown: "It gave me tons of confidence. I just believed in Ike."

Recent history didn't support Taylor's assertion that both would help the Steelers this season as Tomlin has grudgingly relied on rookies since becoming the coach. That explains why a punter and a linebacker who played solely on special teams won the Joe Greene Award, given to the team's top rookie, in his first two seasons as head coach.

Then there is the difficulty of the transition for wide receivers from college to the NFL.

"Probably the hardest position on offense because there are so many different styles of corners and safeties they have to learn," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "Most have not been exposed to good route running, press man-to-man (coverage)."

Sanders and Brown have benefited from learning under veterans such as Randle El and Ward, who owns just about every receiving record of note in Steelers history.

Sanders admitted to feeling a bit in awe after he made the Steelers and realized he would be playing on the same team as Ward.

"And the next thing I thought was how could I get better from him?" Sanders said. "I got under his wing and tried to see the game how he sees it."

Sanders has proven to be a quick study, and the Jets can attest to his progress. His season high in catches (seven) and receiving yards (78) came in the Dec. 19 loss to New York.

He broke free late in the game — and might have caught Roethlisberger's overthrown pass for a touchdown had a defender not grabbed his jersey.

Brown's David Tyree-esque catch last week against the Ravens is a big reason why Sanders and the Steelers get another crack at the Jets.

It also validated how the Steelers have brought along two of their prized rookies this season.

"We're not calling on Emmanuel every single play," Roethlisberger said. "We're not calling on Antonio every play. It's when we call on them they answer the bell."

Just as Taylor told them they would do.

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01-22-2011, 01:24 AM
And wait until Brown surpasses Sanders like I think he will. Makes the class even better.