View Full Version : Steelers Draft Two OL – Post Draft Look At The OL Situation

05-02-2011, 03:32 PM
Monday, May 02, 2011

Steelers Draft Two Linemen – Post Draft Look At The Offensive Line Situation

Not only did the Steelers draft two cornerbacks over the weekend, they also drafted two offensive linemen in the form of 2nd round draft pick Marcus Gilbert out of Florida and 6th round selection Keith Williams from Nebraska. Much like I did with my post draft look at the Steelers cornerback situation, I will now give you an early look at the Steelers offensive line as it stands today following the draft depth chart wise. The Steelers kept 9 linemen on the active roster in 2010 and may be forced to keep as many as 10 this year depending on how the free agency situation shakes out with Willie Colon.

Here is the Steelers offensive line situation as we know it today under offensive line coach Sean Kugler:

C Maurkice Pouncey - There is not really too much to be said as far as Maurkice Pouncey goes. He will really progress even more after having a full season under his belt and word is that he has fully recovered from the ankle injury suffered against the Jets in the AFC Championship game that caused him to miss the Super Bowl against the Packers. He is the rock of the Steelers offensive line going forward.

LT Max Starks - The last report in late March was that left tackle Max Starks has been medically cleared and working out in Arizona after missing the second half of the 2010 season with a neck injury. Starks is signed through 2012 and if indeed fully recovered, he should be the opening day left tackle in 2011. The drafting of tackle Marcus Gilbert will help to push Starks even harder.

RT Flozell Adams - According to recent reports, Flozell Adams has said he wants to return to play his final year under contract with the Steelers if he can start. Adams is scheduled to earn 5 million in 2011 and there was no signing bonus attached when they signed him prior to the start of the Steelers 2010 training camp. If a salary cap is put into place, the Steelers might ask him to take a pay cut though. In addition, Adams future may be tied to the status of Willie Colon whose free agency status has yet to be determined. Should Colon return to the Steelers and not be kicked inside to right guard, Adams might be set free after one season in the black in gold. Adams is still seeking a Super Bowl ring and might be enticed to stay at a lower price.

T/G Willie Colon – Before the lockout began, Colon was tendered as if he will be a restricted free agent, but that could change depending on how the labor situation pans out as he just as easily could wind up finally hitting the market as an unrestricted free agent. The Steelers are saying they want him back and Colon wants to return as well, but probably with a new 2-3 year deal. If he his retained as a restricted free agent for one season, he could be kicked inside to the unsettled right guard spot if the Adams is retained as well. If Adams is let go and Colon is retained, he is the odds on favorite to open the season at right tackle assuming he is totally healed from his Achilles injury that cost him the entire 2010 season. His status holds the answers to several questions on the 2011 offensive line depth chart. He remains the biggest wild card on the offensive line moving forward.

LG Chris Kemoeatu - 2010 was certainly not the best season that left guard Chris Kemoeatu has had with the Steelers. He is under contract through 2013 and is the odds on favorite to be the starting left guard once again in 2011. The Steelers drafted left guard Keith Williams and left tackle Marcus Gilbert this past weekend. Gilbert has played all four spots on the line, while Williams is merely a true guard. Neither figure to be ready to beat out Kemoeatu for the left guard spot out of camp so Kemoeatu should be the guy, but needs to up his level of play tremendously in 2011.

G Ramon Foster - Ramon Foster ended the season as the Steelers right guard and at worse should make the 53 man roster as a swing guard and could indeed still be in the running to keep his starting gig. His status is also tied closely to Colon and whether or not he is retained and kicked inside. He has a leg up on the rookies in regards to his in-game experience and understanding of the system, so it is hard not to see him making the 53 man roster at this point.

C/G Doug Legursky - When Pouncey was forced to sit out the Super Bowl, it gave Doug Legursky an opportunity to show he can handle the starting center job in case of emergency. He played well against the Packers and also showed he can also play both guard positions in a pinch in 2010. He is an exclusive rights free agent who almost certainly will be back as the 2011 ultimate swing interior lineman for the Steelers and backup center.

G/T Trai Essex - Although Trai Essex showed his swing capabilities at both guard and tackle in 2010, it will not be enough for the Steelers to bring him back in 2011 more than likely. He is an unrestricted free agent and could get an offer to sign elsewhere as a backup lineman. If he remains unsigned come the start of the season, he would be a phone call away should the Steelers suffer multiple injuries to the line in 2011.

T Jonathan Scott - The status of tackle Jonathan Scott could be tied to both Adams and Colon as well. Scott progressed immensely, late in the season after taking over for the injured Starks, after a very rocky start, but he is currently an unrestricted free agent and in limbo. The Steelers reportedly have had some dialogue with him prior to the lockout and should either Adams or Colon not be back in 2011, Scott could be re-signed as the swing tackle. Like Essex, if he his not brought back and does not sign elsewhere, he would only be a phone call away should disaster strike. He is serviceable and has played for offensive line coach Sean Kugler for a number of years.

T Tony Hills - The Steelers tendered restricted free agent tackle Tony Hills prior to the start of the lockout and the only guarantee is that he will be in camp. He has under performed since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2008 draft and has been a huge liability in his limited paying time. It would take some unforeseen circumstances for him to make the 53 man roster. He better take plenty of pictures while in Latrobe as it will be the last time he sees it as a member of the Steelers.

T/G Chris Scott - Is he tackle? Is he a guard? We just do not really know anything about the Steelers 2010 5th round draft pick as he missed all of training camp and pre season after injuring his foot prior to training camp while working out back in Tennessee. He remained on the Steelers PUP list until Starks was placed on injured reserve and finally got some well needed practice which was likely limited in reps. He will be in a battle with the rookie Williams for a place on the 53 man roster, but has an outside chance of making the roster depending on the status of Colon and Adams combined with the decision of if the Steelers choose to keep 9 or 10 offensive linemen this year.

T Marcus Gilbert - There is no doubt that the Steelers 2011 2nd round draft pick Marcus Gilbert will make the 53 man roster and coach Kugler has said he will train him at both tackle and guard spots once practices begin. It is hard to see him starting right out of the chute though and he will likely be a backup tackle when the season begins. The Steelers hope that by his second season that he is ready to start at either the left or right tackle spot.

G Keith Williams - The biggest area of weakness that 2011 6th round draft pick Keith Williams is his pass blocking as he is regarded as a much better run blocker coming out of college. Kugler said following his selection that he has pulling capabilities and will be trained at both guard positions when practices begin. Considering the depth issues the Steelers have at guard, I think it would take Williams falling on his face completely to not make the 53 man roster. At the very worst, he will be placed on the Steelers practice squad if he clears waivers, a move the Steelers will be very hesitant to make. His best case scenario is a quick progression under the tutelage of Kugler and winning the right guard spot with hopes he can replace Kemoeatu on the left side in 2012.

G/C Dorian Brooks - When Pouncey was placed on injured reserve for the Super Bowl, Dorian Brooks was activated to the 53 man roster after spending the season on the practice squad. He was inactive for his one game on the roster and trained to be an emergency center and swing guard in 2010. He was re-signed to the Steelers offseason roster following the season where he will once again look to compete for a position on the Steelers practice squad in training camp.

T Kyle Jolly - Like Brooks, tackle Kyle Jolly was re-signed to the offseason and will compete in training camp for a spot on the practice squad. He has zero chance at making the Steelers 53 man roster.

G Nevin McCaskill - Another offseason roster signing was guard Nevin McCaskill, who has bounced around on various practice squads since going undrafted in 2007. He is a long shot to even make to Latrobe once the Steelers start signing their rookie draft picks. Should he make it to camp, his best case scenario is winning a spot on the Steelers practice squad.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/05/st ... situation/ (http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/05/steelers-draft-two-linemen-post-draft-look-at-the-offensive-line-situation/)

05-02-2011, 07:56 PM
Looking at it as it stands, Chadman would suspect...

LT- Starks is set
LG- Kemoeatu is set
C- Pouncey is set
RG- Colon is possible
RT- Adams is possible

Swing OT- Most likely Gilbert
Swing OG/C- Looks like Legursky

That's 7. The Steelers would likely keep 2 or 3 more on the roster. Going to suggest that Jonathon Scott might stick due to his late season performnce & also because he can fill that swing OT role until Gilbert proves ready. Ramon Foster could be the other due to position flexibility & because he wasn't the worst OL guy we've had.

That potential 10th spot could go to Williams- but it's more likely he would fall to the PS.

This would mean Essex, Hills & the Neville Nobodies would be released/cut/unsigned.

If Colon isn't signed, Foster most likely moves to RG & Williams to the active roster. If Adams is removed- Colon to RT, and Foster in again.

So, the 2011 'Most Likely' O-Linemen will be:
OT's- Starks, Adams, Gilbert, J Scott.
OG's- Kemoeatu, Colon, Foster
C's- Pouncey, Legursky

PS- Williams & C Scott.

05-02-2011, 08:10 PM
Scott should make the roster. I could see him being a possible starter after the 2012 season when Starks leaves as long as he continues to progress. Either him or Gilbert and the hope would be that the other could service the other tackle position.

05-03-2011, 08:49 AM
Let's say Starks, Kemo, Pouncey, Foster, & Adams starters going into camp. I think you could say with some certainty that Hills, Essex, McCaskill, & Jolly will not be on the 53. Essex will not be given a contract and I don't see Hills making it out of camp. J Scott will be the backup at LT because I think he will be retained. Gilbert will stick and I also think Legursky will be retained. 9 OL is a definite on the roster so that leaves at least one more or two if they carry 10. Colon wants to remain & the staff would like him to. Looking at this, you would think if Adams returns & Colon is retained he would have to play G. Brooks, C Scott, & Williams could all be PS elligible. If we play under 2010 rules and Adams returns, It looks like everyone might get their wish of Colon playing G. Pretty pumped about the possibility of Starks, Kemo, Pouncey, Colon, & Adams with J Scott, Bronco, Gilbert, & Foster as the backups. That being said, if Colon becomes unrestricted, I see a log jam on the OL and the Steelers pocket book. I don't see how they could afford to keep Adams & Colon with other contracts needing to be done.

05-03-2011, 10:04 AM
I would not be so quick to count Essex out of the mix. He is the only player with experience playing both Guard and Tackle. If he is willing to come cheap, and I bet he is, he could very well be back.

I also think J Scott has earned another contract and from what you hear he loves being here so he could be an easy resign.

I think Chris Scott and Foster fight it out for a roster spot.

05-03-2011, 11:55 AM
I would not be so quick to count Essex out of the mix. He is the only player with experience playing both Guard and Tackle. If he is willing to come cheap, and I bet he is, he could very well be back.

I also think J Scott has earned another contract and from what you hear he loves being here so he could be an easy resign.

I think Chris Scott and Foster fight it out for a roster spot.

I don't think C Scott is any threat to Foster. Foster has 12 regular season starts plus playoffs & SB. C Scott wasn't active at all his rookie season. If you are using your experience theory for Essex wouldn't that hold true for Foster who has starts at both G spots and Scott has none? If Colon becomes UFA and walks Essex has a shot. If they go with 2010 rules & Colon is RFA, he could become the odd man out. They want Bronco & J Scott back. So starting 5 of Starks, Kemo, Pouncey, Foster, & Adams gives you 7. Gilbert is 8. Colon RFA would make it 9. Colon UFA and walks means Essex, C Scott, Brooks, Hills, Jolly & Williams and any UDFA fight for 1. I discount Essex because if Colon remains, it doesn't look good for him. If Colon leaves, I think Essex will have a hard time seperating himself from the rest of the bunch. Six seasons under your belt should not have you falling back into a group of 1-3 rookies, 3-4 2nd year players, and a player who has been in the league 3 years and only active for 4 games (Hills). I would love Essex to stay, but the clock has made turned the necessity into a luxury they no longer can afford.

05-08-2011, 11:17 PM
Sunday, May 08, 2011

Chris Scott – The Forgotten 2010 Draft Pick

A little over a year ago the Steelers drafted Tennessee tackle Chris Scott in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft with hopes he could provide some depth at both the tackle and the guard position. Offensive line coach Sean Kugler said immediately after the selection that Scott is a physical player that has some position flexibility at both the tackle and guard position. Kugler noted that Scott, who was primarily a left tackle at Tennessee, could also play on the right side as well. The position flexibility that Kugler mentions stems from the fact that Scott broke into the Volunteers lineup at the right guard spot before being moved to left tackle.

Mini camps and OTA sessions seemed to be going good for Scott after he was drafted as he saw time at left tackle and received some work at guard as well. Then disaster hit as Scott injured his foot late in June while working out back in Tennessee and needed surgery to correct the break. The injury cost Scott all of training camp and preseason as he was placed on the PUP (Physically Unable To Perform) list where he stayed until activated in the early part of November when left tackle Max Starks was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury.

The best thing about Scott getting activated to the roster when Starks went down was the fact he could finally get on the practice field again for the first time since the post draft OTA sessions. While his reps were likely few and far between, they were reps nonetheless and well needed ones at that. Since that time there have hardly been any updates of where he worked on the line and how he looked. He remains one of the biggest unknown quantities the Steelers have heading into his second season.

One of the biggest knocks on Scott prior to the draft was his inconsistent footwork and lack of lateral range. He measured in at the 2010 combine at 6 foot 4 and a 1/2 and weighed 319 pounds. His arm length was an acceptable 34 1/8 inches, but the times he turned in for the 40 yard dash, 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone drill certainly exposed his lack of speed, short area quickness and inability to change directions fast. These all add up to reasons as to why he lasted so long in the draft.

Now that the Steelers have drafted tackle Marcus Gilbert in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft and guard Keith Williams in the 6th, Scott will have to use what little work he has had in the practice offense to gain whatever advantage he can over the two rookies.

Scott also needs several things to break his way in addition to some great early practices whenever they get started following the lockout. Gilbert is a near lock to make the 53 man roster so that could leave Scott to battle former Volunteers line-mate Ramon Foster and Williams for a spot on the roster. Should Willie Colon wind up being deemed an unrestricted free agent and move on elsewhere in 2011, it would certainly help the odds of Scott making the roster. One thing that could put Scott back behind the 8 ball once again though is if the Steelers choose to re-sign unrestricted free agent tackle Jonathan Scott. Scott came on strong late in the season in relief of the injured Starks and there were reportedly some early talks about re-signing him prior to the lockout beginning.

The Steelers carried just 9 linemen on the 53 man roster in 2010 and liked to dress just 7 every week on game day. Backup center Doug Legursky is also an easy lock to grab one of the non-starter line spots along with Gilbert; so that leaves just two spots left assuming Colon and Flozell Adams both return. That leaves two spots for Scott, Foster and the rookie Williams to battle over. Foster has the experience over the other two and has the flexibility to play all four spots on the line. Williams appears initially to be the most athletic of the three, but seems destined to be a guard only. He also will be hurt in his development the longer the lockout rolls on. Where does Scott fit in? More than likely he is best suited to be a swing right side guy as his footwork and lack of speed seems inadequate for a left side spot. If he is able to show he has improved on these areas during training camp, he could indeed make it hard for the Steelers to cut him. There is always an outside shot the Steelers could carry 10 linemen out of camp and that would certainly help the chances of Scott making the roster. I would not be willing to bet on that extra spot though.

5th round draft picks are easy to cut because their small signing bonuses are very easy to eat as dead money. Scott can't afford to miss any time during training camp again due to injury and he must stick out head and shoulders above the rookies during the pre season games. His position flexibility must be apparent or he will truly remain the forgotten draft pick of 2010 class.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/05/ch ... raft-pick/ (http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/05/chris-scott-the-forgotten-2010-draft-pick/)

05-09-2011, 02:27 AM
I remember very distinctly last year when almost everybody was saying, "Hartwig is a lock," simply because he was a starter the year before, and it would cost cap space to cut him. Well surprise - surprise.

I think the same line of reasoning could apply to Kemo this year. IMO, he presents very poor value. Not only is he expensive for a fat 6th round OG who sucks ass, but he is preventing us from grooming our young talent. If C. Scott or Legursky or Williams or even Gilbert show us something in camp, Kemo could be very expendable.

Put it this way... How much worse could any of those four be?

05-09-2011, 04:48 PM
Never Write in Absolutes, Especially on Willie Colon

Posted on May 8, 2011 by ted

Long-time and respected Steelers’ reporter Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blogged that there is no chance whatsoever that Willie Colon will move to guard because “he does not run well enough to play the position.”

First, people should never speak or write in absolutes outside of tested research in the hard sciences. Second, every single draft and scouting service listed Colon as a guard prospect when he came out of Hofstra in 2006, so it is certainly not absurd to think he could play that position. It should be noted that many current NFL guards also played tackle in college; and at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, Colon physically looks much more like an NFL guard than tackle.

It is true that Colon has only played tackle in the NFL, and had his best season in 2009 before missing all of 2010 after suffering a torn Achilles tendon last summer. Many Pittsburgh fans have long desired to move Colon inside due to his size, strength in run-blocking, and due to his problems handling speed pass rushers earlier in his career at right tackle. Fortunately, opponents’ best pass rushers generally line up outside of the offensive left tackle to attack most quarterbacks’ blind side.

We do not even know if Colon will be with the Steelers in 2010. Under pre-2010 rules, he was slated to be an unrestricted free agent before the 2010 season. However, since no new CBA was agreed upon, a provison kicked in that allowed teams to issue 1-year tenders to retain the rights of fourth- and fifth-year players. The Steelers have done that with Colon each of the last two off-seasons, issuing him a first-round tender for 2011 that would pay him roughly $2.7 million.

However, if a new CBA is reached that allows fourth- and fifth-year playesr to again become unrestricted free agents this offseason, Colon is likely to leave the Steelers, since the team’s front office has never seemingly valued his services as much as the coaching staff. Moreover, both the front office and coaching staff recently said that they want Flozell Adams to return as the team’s starting right tackle in 2011, with Max Starks back at left tackle.

Still, if a potential 2011 season is played under 2010 rules – a very real possibility, even more so if the owners’ lockout is again lifted by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals – Colon would remain property of the Steelers, and a bargain at that price if healthy.

We do not know if Colon can effectively pull from the right guard position, although the Steelers’ historically have pulled their left guards more often. We also do not know how much his Achilles injury will limit his mobility in 2011. However, Dulac’s emphatic notion that there is no chance Colon will ever play guard, which he has been repeating on his Twitter account without attribution from anyone in the Steelers’ organization, could easily be wrong just like his definitive writing that the Steelers would only keep eight linebackers on their opening-day 53-man roster in 2010 because that was the same number they kept in 2009 (the team ended up keeping nine like most others expected).

His reasoning about Colon’s inability to run is laughable. The Steelers’ Sean Kugler, like most offensive line coaches, wants position flexibility amongst his players. If Colon is with the Steelers in August and healthy, the team’s five best offensive linemen will be center Maurkice Pouncey, Adams, Colon, Starks and left guard Chris Kemoteau. There is a clear drop-off in proven NFL productivity afterward, with reserve tackle Jonathan Scott probably next on the list.

That top-five does not include Ramon Foster, a former undrafted college free agent who was serviceable after he replaced Trai Essex and Doug Legursky as the team’s starting right guard last season. Colon, who cannot run well enough to play guard per Dulac, had respectable 40-yard dash times of 5.26 and 5.36 seconds at the 2006 NFL scouting combine.

Foster, ironically, was clocked at 5.61 seconds in the 40, the worst time of any player who attended and ran the 40 at the 2009 NFL scouting combine. At 6-foot-6, Foster has more of a tackle-frame than Colon, and Foster only saw action at tackle over his last three years at Tennessee.

Now, I am not arguing that Foster could be a quality starting tackle in the NFL. But how can Dulac conclude that Colon cannot play guard just because he has not been tried at the position in the NFL yet? Based on 40 times, it certainly is not because Colon cannot run, and theoretically it should be much easier for a tackle to convert to guard than the opposite.

The Steelers have needed Colon much more at tackle in years past. However, if Starks and Adams are both healthy in 2011, they would need him more at right guard and will likely give him a look at that position if all three players are on the roster and healthy. I am not saying he will start start at right guard in 2011, particularly since he may not even be with the Steelers or could easily move back to tackle in the event of an injury to Starks or Adams, or after a failed experiment at guard. That said, trying Colon at guard this fall is a possibility, something acknowledged by head coach Mike Tomlin at his pre-draft press conference this year.

http://www.steelerslounge.com/2011/05/w ... #more-5324 (http://www.steelerslounge.com/2011/05/write-absolutes-willie-colon/#more-5324)

05-09-2011, 06:34 PM
I'm not counting on Colon returning. An achilles tear is a major injury. I think this could be a big problem for him playing NFL football. But we'll see if he can recover. I know most are going to write Hills off. He hasn't played at all and hasn't demonstrated that desirable quality called position flexibility. If he is smart and I think he is, he will spend this offseason working to expand his versatility so that he can be called on to play multiple positions. I still say he's got good feet, but if he can't get on the field this year, he's got to be cut, but I think he will be in the NFL somewhere. Heck, since he was once an All-American TE, he should start hinting around that he could go in at TE if need be.

Cutable vets are Essex, Foster or even Kemo.

05-19-2011, 04:15 PM
Thursday, May 19, 2011

Keeping A Healthy Max Starks Is A No Brainer

I was asked last night by a reader of the site via email how much the Steelers would save should they cut left tackle Max Starks prior to the start of training camp in attempt to free up money to pay either free agent cornerback Ike Taylor or get a long term deal done with franchised linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

The short answer to the question is around $3.25 million dollars in 2011. Starks signed a four year, $26.3 million contract back in June of 2009 of which $10 million was reported to be guaranteed money. It is believed that the contract was structured to pay Starks $8 million in signing bonus money over 4 years along with another $2.3 million in roster bonuses. $2 million of that $2.3 million is believed to have been paid immediately after the contract was signed as the first roster bonus for 2009.

Starks is currently headed into his 3rd year of the 4 year deal with $4 million left to be paid of the $8 million signing bonus and he is scheduled to count around $7.25 million against the cap in 2011. Should the Steelers cut him, they still have to pay him the $4 million due instantly as there currently is not a cut before March 1st rule in place in which the Steelers would be able to stretch out the remaining signing bonus over two years to my knowledge. Put simply, they would have to count the $4 million against the 2011 cap, if indeed there is one, after releasing him and thus the savings of only around $3.25 million dollars in 2011. That is not a ton of money saved assuming that Starks is indeed recovered from his neck injury that cost him most of the 2010 season.

On top of that, I do not think cutting Starks, if healthy, is a wise idea because although he is not a premier left tackle in the league, Starks is certainly more than serviceable and above average based on his play prior to 2010. His poor play at the beginning of 2010 can likely be attributed to the high ankle sprain he suffered in week 1 against the Falcons that forced him to miss week 2 against the Titans. Upon his return, he still seemed hobbled by the injury, but never missed a snap until he suffered the neck injury against the Bengals in week 9.

Starks is still on the right side of 30 and he reported that is rehab is about complete. Sure the Steelers drafted Florida tackle Marcus Gilbert in the 2nd round of the NFL draft, who they likely hope is the heir apparent to Starks, but the lockout is certainly not helping his speed of development. In addition, offensive line coach Sean Kugler stated that Gilbert would be worked at all 4 spots on the line early on until he finds his home.

Tackle Jonathan Scott is not currently under contract as he is an unrestricted free agent and although he progressed greatly after taking over for the injured Starks last year, he still had is moments where he looked pretty shaky. At best I think if he comes back in 2011 he once again would be better suited as a swing tackle. If right tackle Flozell Adams is allowed to return for his final year under contract, which I expect to happen, one should not expect him to play every snap at 36 years of age. In all of 2010 he missed more than 100 snaps due to being dinged up according to my records. In addition to Gilbert, Scott and Adams, the free agent status of tackle Willie Colon remains up in the air, and with the current appeal won by the NFL this past week, it looks more and more likely he could wind up being an unrestricted free agent which lessens his likelihood of returning in 2011 greatly. That leaves only Ramon Foster with playing experience and he seems to be better suited as a guard than he does a starting tackle.

In the end you can see that the Steelers really need Starks to return and I do not think releasing him is a wise choice if he is indeed healthy, as most expect him to be. The savings of only $3.25 million dollars is a drop in the bucket as his play, versatility and leadership is worth much more than that in my opinion. Ask me again after the 2011 season and I might have a different answer as Starks becomes a savings of around $5.25 million against the cap should his play fall off from his pre injury years and Gilbert has his rookie season under his belt.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/05/ke ... o-brainer/ (http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/05/keeping-a-healthy-max-starks-is-a-no-brainer/)

05-19-2011, 04:32 PM
People are actually considering cutting Max Starks to free up money to sign other players? Seriously? Glad those people don't work in the Steelers front office. Yikes.

05-20-2011, 10:56 PM
Addition of Gilbert adds intrigue to Steelers' O-line

By Mike Wilkening


The Steelers' addition of OT-OG Marcus Gilbert in Round Two of the NFL draft was a clear signal Pittsburgh envisions him having a key role on their offensive line, but where — and when — will he play regularly? Those issues remain to be sorted out, from all appearances. Though Gilbert played left tackle at Florida, the Steelers think he can play inside. "He has pulling skills, and we can envision him at the guard spot as well," Steelers OL coach Sean Kugler said during the draft, according to the team. "Right now, I couldn't tell you where he is going to line up. We are trying to get the best five and the best two game-day guys behind it. He'll be in the right spot when it comes time to go."

The Steelers seem likely to go with Max Starks at left tackle. At right tackle, Flozell Adams and Willie Colon (an unrestricted or restricted free agent, given whatever rules govern free agency when the NFL re-opens for business) are the top veteran options. At guard, Chris Kemoeatu (left) and Ramon Foster (right) are the incumbents. If nothing else, the Steelers have plenty of options at tackle and guard, but how the depth chart will be filled out bears watching.

http://www.profootballweekly.com/2011/0 ... elers-o-li (http://www.profootballweekly.com/2011/05/16/addition-of-gilbert-adds-intrigue-to-steelers-o-li)

06-14-2011, 03:11 AM
Sean Kugler Reflects On Solid Growth By Steelers Offensive Line in 2010, Looks Ahead to Even Better 2011

by Michael Bean on Jun 13, 2011


When you're on a coaching staff with Mike Tomlin and D!ck LeBeau, it's hard to win too many first place votes in a popularity contest. But Sean Kugler, the offensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, sure earned a legion of supporters and believers for the work he did with the line during his first season in Pittsburgh. The Steelers allowed 43 sacks last season, the eighth most in the NFL, but I don't think anybody would argue that the collective play of the line was significantly more consistent and improved. When you factor in the rash of injuries the line dealt with, particularly at the all-important tackle positions, and Kugler's work looks even more impressive in retrospect.

So what next for Kugler and the offensive line? Well, we won't exactly know what Kugler will be working with until the NFL Lockout is resolved. The primary factor still up in the air while the lockout drags on is the future of right tackle Willie Colon, who at the moment is a free agent. Whether Colon is retained or signs elsewhere, his future will impact a number of other players' futures. Still, for as much as Colon has improved since he joined the league and for as much as Steeler Nation might like to have him back, last season convinced me (and likely many others) that we can be just fine moving forward regardless of what unfolds with Colon. Kugler's sound coaching and motivating leave me convinced that the future is quite bright for the unit in 2011 and 2012 even if Colon is not part of the fold.

On Friday, Kugler joined 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh to talk about last season, the upcoming season and what his plan is to continue helping the men in the trenches improve their individual and collective play. I've transcribed most of the interview below.

On dealing with all the injuries along the line last year:

"Well it just happened frequently, so just keeping guys together and patching different guys in at different positions. So I don't think it was hard, it was just a challenge to get the guys to jel together week to week. But they're a great group of guys and accepted the challenge and competed every week."

On just how good Maurkice Pouncey was as a rookie and it being clear that Mike Tomlin wanted him to start:

"Yeah Maurkice is a special player. He's got the type of qualities that you look for in offensive linemen, and it was pretty evident in camp that he had the mental makeup to handle all the calls. Once we realized that, it was a pretty easy decision to put him at center."

On Flozell Adams:

"I just have a lot of respect for Flozell because that's a very difficult transition after doing something for so long. Flozell's just a complete pro. He worked his tail off, he competed game in and game out, and he did everything we asked of him and more. He's just a true pro."

Whether there's a specific position along the line that he most enjoys coaching:

"The reason I like coaching offensive line is I like coaching all five guys collectively. It's a challenge to get all five guys to play together as a unit, and I enjoy coaching the entire group. There's not a better position on the field to coach. The offensive linemen, those are usually the guys that are your most fun to be around, your must humble, and your hardest working guys. And I love my group here in Pittsburgh and we're going to add to that here this year and try to be a better, more efficient unit in 2011."

On the Steelers' second round pick in this year's draft, Marcus Gilbert:

"Well the unique thing about Marcus is he has great size. He has good athleticism for his size but he's played four different positions in three years as a starter in the SEC. He's played left tackle a full year as a starter, he's played right tackle, and he's also played both guard spots. So that's an interesting thing when you're looking for a guy who's versatile, and he's a versatile lineman that has the athleticism and size that we're looking for.

On what he has been keeping himself busy with during the ongoing lockout:

"Well I already drove my wife nuts, she's ready to have me out of the house and probably hopes training camp starts tomorrow. I've just been trying to get better as a coach and hopefully do a better job this year than last year...So you take whatever time you have, if it's not with the players, then try to improve upon yourself."

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... #storyjump (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/6/13/2222087/nfl-lockout-pittsburgh-steelers-offensive-line-sean-kugler-maurkice-pouncey-flozell-adams#storyjump)

06-14-2011, 07:30 AM
Kugler was the best addition to the Steelers in 2010. More so than any player.

06-14-2011, 08:43 AM
Kugler was the best addition to the Steelers in 2010. More so than any player.

I think you would have a difficult argument to prove that wrong. With Pouncey starting as a rookie, the transition of Adams, and the Steelers still making a SB appearance after losing both starting OT...Who else do you nominate? The only one that comes close is Pouncey but I'll take the teacher over the student.

06-14-2011, 09:51 AM
Kugler was the best addition to the Steelers in 2010. More so than any player.

I think you would have a difficult argument to prove that wrong. With Pouncey starting as a rookie, the transition of Adams, and the Steelers still making a SB appearance after losing both starting OT...Who else do you nominate? The only one that comes close is Pouncey but I'll take the teacher over the student.
You can't polish a turd. Even the best teacher wouldn't have improved Hartwig. Pouncey IMO was just as important.

06-14-2011, 01:08 PM
Not a big fan of kemoeatu. I would actually like to see Colon in that spot.

I thought Foster played well at RG considering his inexperience. He would benefit greatly from a full season next to Pouncey and Adams.

Getting Adams back would be nice, but not at 5mill. Especially when keeping Ike is a higher priority than getting Adams back. Either J. Scott or Gilbert could play the RT spot. Maybe even C. Scott. Keep Adams and Colon but not at the expense of losing Taylor.

I believe in Kugler. I feel that even if Colon and Adams didnt come back, the O-line would be quite capable. You could bring Essex and J. Scott back for what it would cost to keep Adams.

I'm quite comfortable with----- Starks,Kemoeatu,Pouncey,Foster,J.Scott

Getting Colon and Adams would be a nice luxury, but I don't see a reason why Kugler can't get it done with this group.

Colon is an Achilles issue and that will always be in the back of everyones mind-whens it gonna blow? Rather not have that to deal with. Adams is still capable but again-the dude could go down at anytime. I know-anyone can. But his age does not help his cause.

Aside from Adams, everyone else is either in there prime or in there youth. Nice place to operate out of.

We really need Taylor back and if losing Adams and Colon are lost because of that, so be it.

Don't want to stray off topic to much here, but with Taylor back, Brown could ease his way into the starting lineup by handling nickle package responsabilities and then taking Mcfaddens spot altogether. Instead of trying to handle the #2 CB position right away. I feel that one of Lewis, Butler and Allen should be able to offer a decent dime defender.

Gotta offer Ike a fair deal, and if we need Adams and Colon money to do it then thats what should happen. Losing Ike would hurt worse than losing Colon and Adams.

06-14-2011, 01:45 PM
We also drafted Nebraska guard Keith Williams in the 6th round as well, who could make the final 53 (but not the active dress list on gamedays) or else would be on the practice squad.

06-14-2011, 05:12 PM
Kugler was the best addition to the Steelers in 2010. More so than any player.


I'm amazed at what the line accomplished last year, given the hardships it endured, and I think Kugs was the reason --- although Pouncey helped :wink:

06-15-2011, 04:27 PM
2010 Team Pass Protection Rankings, Part 1(steelers 32nd)

32. Pittsburgh Steelers (2.22)

Just how did a team with the worst pass protection in the league get to the Super Bowl? Some of it comes down to the quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t afraid of holding onto the ball a bit longer, and understandably so with him being one of the best in the league at dealing with pressure (our fourth highest grade in this respect). The big problem is an offensive line that couldn’t overcome injuries, with every player having a negative grade in pass protection. It doesn’t look like Willie Colon will return, but if Max Starks is healthy that will help out somewhat.

Pressure Per Play Rank: 32nd

Sack % of Pressure Rank: 27th

Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 17th

read more:


06-17-2011, 08:13 AM
Kugler was the best addition to the Steelers in 2010. More so than any player.

I think you would have a difficult argument to prove that wrong. With Pouncey starting as a rookie, the transition of Adams, and the Steelers still making a SB appearance after losing both starting OT...Who else do you nominate? The only one that comes close is Pouncey but I'll take the teacher over the student.

Kugler is a fantastic coach. He proved that in Buffalo in 2009 and in Pittsburgh in 2010. I'm thrilled to have him. His coaching was key to our run.

However, we did add Pouncey in 2010. I think I'd have to say that he was the best addition of the year. And, that he made Kugler look even better.

But, we are splitting hairs. Both are great.

06-27-2011, 11:14 PM
Legursky's handiness helps him stick in Pittsburgh

Posted June 24, 2011
By Mike Wilkening


When Steelers C-OG Doug Legursky ponders a season that began with him as a reserve and ended with him starting in Super Bowl XLV, he thinks of the wide range of perspective he received.

"I've seen every angle you can approach a game from," he said. "… I guess out of anything, that's the most valuable thing."

Legursky's versatility and readiness were put to the test multiple times a season ago, and never more so than when the Steelers needed him most. He got the call in the Super Bowl in place of the injured Maurkice Pouncey, whom he relieved early in the AFC title game after the star rookie suffered a high ankle sprain.

How the 6-1, 315-pound Legursky would fare vs. imposing Packers NT B.J. Raji was a matter of much speculation entering the game, what with Legursky to make his first-ever start in the middle and the 337-pound Raji emerging as a star late last season, but Raji didn't record a tackle in Green Bay's win, and Legursky came away "satisfied" with the way he played individually on a nonetheless disappointing day overall.

In the regular season, Legursky started four games, all at right guard, in place of the injured Trai Essex. With Pouncey the surefire starter at center, Legursky's best shot at competing for a starting spot this season could be at guard, though whether that happens could be tied to whether the Steelers bring in someone else who can play center, as Legursky and Pouncey are the only two centers on the roster.

"I'm going in there and battling to be a starter," Legursky said of his outlook.

It took two years for the 25-year-old Legursky, who went undrafted out of Marshall, to work his way onto the Steelers' roster. Twice Pittsburgh released him. "That was tough times, but I fought through that," he said.

Now, he has developed into a well-rounded player. In addition to center and guard, he also has lined up as a blocking back, something he enjoys.

His handiness is his calling card. He has shown, he said, that he can "go in there and contribute in a blink of an eye where we can win football games."

http://www.profootballweekly.com/2011/0 ... pittsburgh (http://www.profootballweekly.com/2011/06/24/legurskys-handiness-helps-him-stick-in-pittsburgh)

06-28-2011, 12:16 AM
It will be interesting to see where this line goes from here. Think about the starting five in the SB last February.......

LT - J. Scott - backup who had to fill in for injured starter. Did okay as a backup, but not starting material

LG - C. Kemo - One of the most unpopular players in the eyes of the fans and no lock to be back

C - Legursky - Young kid who was thrust into the starting lineup just in time for the biggest game of his life

RG - Foster - A coin flip over Essex to see which is more adequate. Did alright filling in after getting 8 starts to end the season in preparation

RT - Adams - Old guy who did a nice job moving to the right side late in his career. An emergency injury replacement last season who is only an 'alright' option going into next season.

What a poor collection of OL for a SB team. Not one player on that list would a call a good NFL lineman. And this is a team that lost the SB by less than a TD. A game in which Ben threw a pick 6 after being hit in the motion. A game where Mendy fumbled after being ambushed in the backfield. A decent quality OL changes the outcome - and plenty of opportunity for upgrading IMO. In order I would rate the following as the biggest upgrades to the SB line.

With only two positions locked at the moment IMO there should be a lot of competition for RT and the two guard spots.

06-28-2011, 08:55 AM
The key was (and is) continuity...very rarely can teams overcome multiple injuries on the offensive line because that plays havoc with the continuity and communication...

The fact that the O-Line held together as well as it did in the SB is a tribute to the tenacity of the players and the coaching...

I disagree that none of those players could be called a good lineman...if the continuity were there, they would all look like good linemen...but it wasn't...

To lose the SB by less than a TD still hurts...but I remain amazed that it was even that close...

I would be perfectly happy if a guy like Foster or Legursky was a starter....

07-08-2011, 04:13 PM
Hope and Concern: Steelers' O-line

July, 8, 2011
By James Walker


We continue our "Hope and Concern" series Friday with the offensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Biggest reason for hope: Health

There were games last season when Pittsburgh's depth was thoroughly tested. Starting left tackle Max Starks suffered a season-ending neck injury in November in addition to lesser injuries to others members of the line. Jonathan Scott was inconsistent filling in for Starks, leading the Steelers to draft tackle Marcus Gilbert in the second round. Gilbert should provide depth as a rookie and a potential fill-in behind Starks or aging veteran Flozell Adams. Rookie Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who missed the Super Bowl with an ankle injury, is healthy again and should be even better in his second season. Chris Kemoeatu is a solid but not great left guard. Pittsburgh still has questions at right guard. Pending free agent Willie Colon is a possibility to return.

Biggest reason for concern: Pass protection

Pittsburgh's sack numbers are staggering. Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 221 times the past five seasons. That’s an average of 44 times per season, and Roethlisberger even missed four games in 2010 due to a suspension. Roethlisberger does have a penchant for holding the football, but that doesn’t absolve the Steelers’ offensive line of 200-plus sacks. The Steelers have good run blockers up front, but they are mostly average or below average pass protectors. Roethlisberger is often forced to run around and fight off defenders after his first read. As a result, he has taken a beating and suffered multiple injuries the past few years. As Roethlisberger, 29, gets older, Pittsburgh needs to find a way for its quarterback to take less of a pounding.

http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/post/_ ... ers-o-line (http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/post/_/id/28915/hope-and-concern-steelers-o-line)