View Full Version : Getting the Gang Back Together

08-01-2011, 12:29 AM
Getting the Gang Back Together: The Steelers Offseason
Written on July 31, 2011 by Ed Smallwood
http://isportsweb.com/2011/07/31/gettin ... offseason/ (http://isportsweb.com/2011/07/31/getting-gang-back-together-steelers-offseason/)

As only Jake and Elwood Blues could accurately sum up, the 2011 Steelers indeed have gotten the band back together.

The Steelers approach to free agency has long been to keep their own guys they want to keep and to disdain high profile free agents from others teams. The 2011 offseason is more of the same, perhaps to a fault. As of Sunday night, the Steelers have not signed a free agent that played on another team in 2010, while re-upping CB Ike Taylor, RB Mewelde Moore, OT Willie Colon, P Daniel Sepulveda, CB William Gay, OT Jonathan Scott, and K Shaun Suisham. The only 2010 Steelers to move on thus far are (1) backup DE Nick Eason, made expendable by the drafting of Cam Heyward, (2) OT Max Starks, made expendable by his bloated salary cap figure and bloated weight, (3) backup TE Matt Speath, made expendable by sucking for the past four years, (4) WR Antwan Randle-El, a good guy who’s been done for years, and (5) OT Flozell Adams, last year’s replacement for an injured Willie Colon. A look at the impact of some of these moves:

Ike Taylor & William Gay – With the re-signing of Ike for 4 years and William Gay for 1, the Steelers now have their top 3 CB’s from 2010 back in the fold. This is somewhat of a mixed blessing – the Steelers actually possessed pretty good numbers against the pass in 2010 despite the fact most teams gave up on trying to run and threw it all over the place against the Steelers. Opposing passers threw 593 times (in addition to being sacked a league high 48 times), the 4th most in the NFL. The Steelers, however, led the NFL in defense in yards per attempt and were 2nd in opposing passer rating. That said, the lingering memory of last season is of Aaron Rodgers gashing the Steelers’ secondary for 304 yards and 3 TD’s, something that Tom Brady and Drew Brees also accomplished during the regular season.

Gay will face significant competition to hold onto the nickel spot, as the Steelers are very high on Crezdon Butler, a 5th round pick in 2010, and the Steelers also drafted CB’s in the 3rd (Curtis Brown) and 4th round (Cortez Allen) in the 2011 draft. Keenan Lewis is also still around, trying to finally break into the lineup after two forgettable seasons.

Willie Colon, Jonathan Scott, Flozell Adams, and Max Starks - When training camp opened, most thought Starks would be the LT, Colon would be gone in free agency, and Adams or Scott would be back as the RT. Not so much. Starks was cut due to a bloated salary cap figure (over $7 million for 2011) and a reported weight gain in the offseason. Colon was a surprise re-signing, inking a 5-year, $29 million contract that was reportedly a hometown discount as he turned down more from Chicago. Adams elected not to take a pay cut to be a backup and was cut, while Jonathan Scott resigned to compete at LT.

Speaking of LT, this position figures to be the most highly watched of training camp. Jonathan Scott, who stepped in for Starks when he went down with a neck injury late in the 2010 season, is the presumptive starter. However, it is not impossible that Starks could be resigned at a lower cap figure, and Scott also faces internal competition from 2nd round pick Marcus Gilbert and 2010 5th round pick Chris Scott.

Mewelde Moore – I was sincerely stunned to see news that he was resigned trickle out this afternoon, as his time in Pittsburgh certainly seems to have come and gone. Moore had a very good 2009 season as the Steelers’ 3rd down back, but his YPC have declined to 3.4 per pop in 2010 and 3.0 in 2011. Rookie Barron Batch is the early star of training camp, and I would be very surprised if Moore beats him out for the 3rd down job this season. Moore’s best hope of sticking may be as the 4th back in place of Jonathan Dwyer, someone who was disappointing last year and has started 2011?s camp in similar fashion.

Daniel Sepulveda & Shaun Suisham - Sepulveda resigning came as a bit of a surprise, as the Steelers had two other punters inked for 2011 in Jeremy Kapinos and UDFA Aaron Bates. Sepulveda is one of the better punters around when healthy, but he’s coming off his 2nd torn ACL in 3 years, an injury that ended his season with 5 games left and led to Kapinos’ signing. Suisham, who I discussed in my last post, kicked well enough down the stretch to earn a new deal, but his history of erratic performances and crucial misses makes many Steelers fans more than a little nervous.

Antwan Randle-El - Randle-El’s end was pretty obvious with the reduced salary cap given his minimal production in 2010, as the Steelers were not going to absorb a $2 million cap hit for their 5th WR. The Steelers flirted with Plaxico Burress, who eventually signed with the Jets, and are now left with Limas Sweed and several UDFA’s. Sweed has been a colossal disappointment in his 3 years in Pittsburgh, and he has already missed time in training camp with a hamstring issue. I certainly wouldn’t be even a little surprised to see a cheap veteran WR signed for depth purposes.

So, what’s left? The Steelers are still looking for another TE to replace Matt Spaeth. Daniel Graham visited Latrobe over the weekend but signed with Tennessee, and the Steelers certainly figure to continue to look for another TE. Dennis Dixon, an RFA, isn’t in camp and doesn’t appear to want to be the 3rd QB in 2011, so the Steelers could bring back Charlie Batch or look to acquire a cheap veteran or even look to develop a younger guy. NT Chris Hoke remains a UFA, and the Steelers certainly may to bring him back to back up Casey Hampton, but that isn’t a given despite no obvious backup NT on the roster.

The Steelers generally have one of the least sexy offseasons in the NFL, and 2011 has been no different. For better or worse, they’ve gotten the band back together for another run at it, as they figure to have 21 of the 22 starters from the Super Bowl back in 2011.

08-01-2011, 08:08 AM
I hate resigning both Gay and Moore. I'd rather let young players show what they have on the field. Eventually we need to move onto the next generation.

08-01-2011, 09:59 AM
I'm not a big fan of the Gay signing either. I'd like to see Bulter and the rookies fight it out.

Lewis' is an outside guy so his main competition is McFadden.

btw -- from what I've read, McFadden has already intercepted Big Ben twice in camp? Why can't he do that in the regular season.

08-05-2011, 11:14 PM
Gang's all here in Latrobe

Thursday, August 4, 2011
By Mike Bires


James Harrison tangles with rookie Baron Batch during a recent workout at St. Vincent College.

LATROBE - Thursday morning in the Steelers' training camp locker room, Willie Colon picked up his helmet and planted a big kiss on it.

"One of the guys sitting next to me said, ‘Did I just see you kiss your helmet?'" Colon said. "I said, ‘Yeah, man. I missed this thing."

Then at 4:58 p.m., Colon reached downed for his helmet and shoulder pads that were laying on one of the St. Vincent College practice fields and joined 14 teammates who were taking part in their first camp practice.

"Football is here," Colon said.

Practice actually started for most Steelers last Friday because owners and the NFL Players Association had agreed in principle on July 25 to a new collective bargaining agreement. That allowed veterans already under contract and signed rookies to report to camp.

But newly-signed free agents weren't allowed to practice until 4 p.m. Thursday if the new CBA was ratified by the league's players. The NFL said it received word of ratification at 4:54 p.m.

"It's great to get all the guys back out there on the field," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "Today, it feels like training camp officially started."

With every team in the league awaiting the decision, the Steelers pushed back their practice from its customary starting time of 2:55 p.m. to 4 p.m. Then practice was pushed back again, this time to 4:30.

Still, as practice began, there was no word if the new CBA had been ratified. Nose tackle Chris Hoke was already in uniform and hitting into a one-man blocking sled at 4:30. But he was then told to take off his helmet and pads because a decision hadn't been reached.

So as most of the Steelers limbered up, Colon, Hoke and 13 other recent signees were put on hold once again.

"That was tough," Colon said. "I didn't know what was going on. It was chaos."
Then word reached the practice fields: Labor peace had been achieved. The new CBA was ratified.

Even though the Steelers voted nay - some despise the disciplinary powers of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell - a majority of NFL teams chose to ratify.

"I was on the other side of the field with the rest of the guys who couldn't practice when they gave us the nod," Colon said. "We were so excited. We came running like kids heading to recess."

Practicing for the first time were Colon and tackles Jonathan Scott and Tony Hills; quarterback Dennis Dixon; running back Mewelde Moore; center/guard Doug Legursky; tight end John Gilmore; cornerbacks Ike Taylor and William Gay; safety Ryan Mundy; punters Dan Sepulveda and Jeremy Kapinos; kicker Shaun Suisham; long snapper Greg Warren; and Hoke.

"I've waited all year for this," said Colon, who missed last season with a torn Achilles' tendon. "Just to get back in pads and to be back out there with the guys ... for me, it's about going to the grind, knocking the rust off and getting re-acclimated to everything. I feel great. I really do."

"Well, it's been an unusual year so far and today it was an unusual day," Steelers president Art Rooney II said. "But we're glad it's over. We're glad everybody is in camp. Everybody's ready to go."

http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local ... 7ef5b.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local_sports/gang-s-all-here-in-latrobe/article_8baab381-2b9e-5512-8c1b-54754ae7ef5b.html)

08-07-2011, 11:40 PM
btw -- from what I've read, McFadden has already intercepted Big Ben twice in camp? Why can't he do that in the regular season.

Because they play on the same team?