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fordfixer
07-27-2011, 02:34 AM
Basic Training: Steelers' seven areas of concern
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local ... 94650.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local_sports/basic-training-steelers-seven-areas-of-concern/article_a253e0a9-8147-5496-a6fb-22d71c194650.html)


Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 7:14 pm | Updated: 11:31 pm, Tue Jul 26, 2011.

Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | 0 comments

PITTSBURGH - For a team coming off a Super Bowl appearance, the Steelers certainly have a lot of issues.

If not for the 136-day lockout that ended Monday, many of those concerns would have been alleviated by now. But due to the NFL labor standoff, the Steelers' management team is furiously working on how to figure things out.

With the start of training camp just a day away, Times football writer Mike Bires explores the most pressing questions facing the Steelers:

Will Ike Taylor be re-signed?

The veteran cornerback's value can't be underestimated. Even though he's struggled over the years to latch on to passes he should have intercepted, he's clearly the Steelers' most reliable cover corner. He always draws the opponent's best receiver and rarely is out-played. He's also solid in run support.

Taylor, 31, might be the best corner in the league never to make it to the Pro Bowl. There was rampant speculation late Tuesday night that Taylor signed a four-year deal to stay in Pittsburgh.

Who will play right tackle?

There's a chance that on Aug. 4 -- when the NFL's fiscal year gets under way -- the Steelers could have both Flozell Adams and Willie Colon on their roster. Then again, there's a chance they could have neither.

Before suffering a torn Achilles' tendon last summer that forced him to sit out the 2010 season, Colon had started 54 straight games. But to this point, the Steelers have expressed little interest in stopping Colon from exploring his options as an unrestricted free agent.

Maybe that will change if the Steelers sense that Adams, who's 36, may not return for his 14th pro season or if they're thinking about cutting Adams and his $5 million salary due to salary cap concerns.

And don't forget about Jonathan Scott, an unrestricted free agent who filled in last year when left tackle Max Starks was hurt. Scott started 12 games, including three in the playoffs. Maybe the Steelers can get by with Scott until rookie Marcus Gilbert, a second-round draft pick, learns the system.

Will the Steelers extend the contracts of Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons?

Typically, the Steelers like to reward their top performers before they enter the final year of their contracts. I fully expect Timmons, an inside linebacker, to get a new deal soon. He's only 25 and could be the Steelers' next all-star linebacker.

However, re-signing Polamalu might not be a slam dunk.

There is no doubt that Polamalu is one of the greatest Steelers ever. He's beloved throughout western Pennsylvania. He's one of the best two safeties in the NFL (Baltimore's Ed Reed is the other). But he is 30 now and over the past five seasons he's missed 21 games due to injury. That's 26 percent of the Steelers' 80 regular-season games.

In July of 2007, Polamalu signed a four-year extension worth $30.19 million, $15.375 of it in guaranteed money. It's hard to imagine him getting a similar deal right now.

Which Steelers are most likely to get cut due to salary cap concerns?

After the way Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown played last year as rookie wide receivers, the Steelers have little use for veterans Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle.

Randle El is due to make $2 million this year. That's too much to pay for someone who caught only 22 passes last season. Battle is due to make $1.038 million. That's way too much for a steady but unspectacular special teams performer (Battle didn't catch any passes last year).

Which Steelers will be asked to have their current contracts restructured?

A good place to start might be at left tackle where Max Starks is due to make $5.14 million this year.

The Steelers could also ask inside linebacker Larry Foote to restructure. He's due to make $2.4 million -- a lot of money for a backup.

Then there's outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who is due to make $10 million this year after signing a one-year contract as the franchise player. The Steelers can save some cap space by signing Woodley to a long-term deal that would spread out his money over the length of the new contract.

Any chance Aaron Smith will retire?

Even though he missed 13 games last season, playoffs included, Smith said he planned to return this year. But he's 35 and has been injured three of the last four years. He missed 26 games, or 40 percent of the Steelers' 64 regular-season games during that span.

In recent years, Smith's suffered injuries to his knee, biceps, triceps and rotator cuff. He's been a terrific player and competitor but you have to wonder if his body is breaking down.

The uncertainty of Smith's future may have been a factor in the Steelers' drafting Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward in the first round of this year's draft. And even if Smith does return, he may have to restructure his contract. He's due to make $4.5 million this year.

Who is most intriguing among the 18 undrafted free agents?

While it'll be interesting to see Wisconsin running back John Clay, who rushed for 1,012 and 1,517 yards the past two seasons, it's Weslye Saunders, a tight end out of South Carolina, that may have the best chance among the undrafted free agents to win a roster spot.

Saunders sat out his senior season when the NCAA ruled him ineligible after receiving improper benefits and making improper contact with a sports agent. After his junior year when he caught 32 passes, including three for touchdowns, some draftniks projected Saunders may go as high as the first or second round in this year's draft.

If Saunders regains his form, that may spell the end for backup tight end Matt Spaeth, who's due to make $1.5 million this year.

hawaiiansteel
07-27-2011, 02:45 AM
WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 2011

Taylor returns, now on to the next business


With Ike Taylor agreeing to a four-year deal to stay with the Steelers, they can now move on to other pressing business.

Next up for the team are tackles Willie Colon, Jonathan Scott, and placekicker Shaun Suisham.

If Colon re-signs, it could be as a guard. The Steelers will speak to Flozell Adams about returning for another season, but would like him to do so for less than the $5 million he is scheduled to earn this season.

Adams, who held down the starting right tackle position in 2010 after Colon suffered an Achilles' tendon tear, will likely only return if he can remain a starter. Adams wants to make one last run at a Super Bowl and returning to the Steelers would give him a solid opportunity to do so.

posted by Dale Lolley @ 1:29 AM

http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/sidelines/

Oviedo
07-27-2011, 08:12 AM
Saunders sat out his senior season when the NCAA ruled him ineligible after receiving improper benefits and making improper contact with a sports agent. After his junior year when he caught 32 passes, including three for touchdowns, some draftniks projected Saunders may go as high as the first or second round in this year's draft.

If Saunders regains his form, that may spell the end for backup tight end Matt Spaeth, who's due to make $1.5 million this year.


The guy who should be worried is David Johnson. He is absolutely worthless and doesn't block or catch well. I'll take Spaeth over him as the #2 back-up everyday of the week. Spaeth's $1.5M is nothing cap wise for an experienced veteran player.

ikestops85
07-27-2011, 10:57 AM
Saunders sat out his senior season when the NCAA ruled him ineligible after receiving improper benefits and making improper contact with a sports agent. After his junior year when he caught 32 passes, including three for touchdowns, some draftniks projected Saunders may go as high as the first or second round in this year's draft.

If Saunders regains his form, that may spell the end for backup tight end Matt Spaeth, who's due to make $1.5 million this year.


The guy who should be worried is David Johnson. He is absolutely worthless and doesn't block or catch well. I'll take Spaeth over him as the #2 back-up everyday of the week. Spaeth's $1.5M is nothing cap wise for an experienced veteran player.

I thought Johnson made his bones with his blocking. Didn't he pancake Harrison or Woodley his first trainning camp? Everybody knows he can't catch ... I don't think our opponents even bother to cover him which is why it is so surprising when we do throw to him.

I'm not sure who Saunders is more likely to replace. The Steelers seem to place a good deal of emphasis on the blocking abilities of our TEs so if Saunders isn't able to block I think it is a moot point.

sentinel33
07-27-2011, 11:01 AM
cut kemo(sorry dude but its just not cuttin it) and Flozell. Restructure Starks and resign colon and j scott. Put Colon at LG, Foster at RG and Scott at RT. have legursky and gilbert in the backup spots.

cut battle and randle el. Pray that sweed can beat out these ucfa's we just signed. c'mon dude. last chance.

cut Moore. pretty promising in the backfield right now. geez.

between spaeth and johnson, whatever is best for the team. the winner will be the #3(eventually) anyway. don't want to pay your #3 alot. bye spaeth.

Smith can either restructure or retire. that simple. apparently gray is hokes replacement so hoke stays for one more season as well. The D-line is 2 deep with starters. dang!

cut fox and restructure footes deal. work out a deal with Woodley then start working on Timmons. last year for farrior. gotta send him out on top.

Cut mcfadden. Restructure Polamalus deal. i read somewhere that he is willing to restructure.

dont know what to say about ST. quite nervous about this area. too many question marks goin into this year at that position for my taste. still 1/3 of the game.

all of this looks do-able.