View Full Version : Steelers beef up offensive line to protect Roethlisberger

04-30-2012, 01:56 AM
Steelers beef up offensive line to protect Roethlisberger

April 30, 2012 12:00 am
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In mid-January, Art Rooney II suggested that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger needed to "tweak" his game and offered a reason.

"He is turning 30 and we do need him to stay healthy, and taking fewer sacks would probably help that equation," the Steelers president said.

And just like that, the Steelers provided some tweaks of their own in the draft, completing the reformation of an offensive line that was the butt of too many jokes and too many Roethlisberger sacks.

By drafting guard David DeCastro in the first round and tackle Mike Adams in the second, the Steelers threw two more big logs on a line longing for fuel. Within three drafts, the Steelers have overhauled the weakest area of their team and set it up to be a strength through the early teens of this century.

How about a line that could look like this from left to right: Adams, Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert? That also could be tweaked itself, based on a few things such as Colon's health and the ability of Ramon Foster and/or Doug Legursky to improve and hold down one of the guard spots. And while DeCastro played right guard at Stanford, there's no reason he ultimately could not play on the left side with the Steelers, although moving him there as a rookie might be asking too much.

Either way, drafting two linemen who carried first-round grades by the Steelers has to be as welcome to Roethlisberger as that elusive tall receiver might be.

"I'm excited," Roethlisberger told the Altoona Mirror Saturday night before he spoke at the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "You know, at least on paper, it looks awesome. But, you never know until you take the field and the bullets start flying. I'm really excited. We got some good guys on offense and defense to help add to a team that was good already."

For too long the Steelers ignored the offensive line high in the draft. They had drafted a total of one tackle, one guard and no centers in the first two rounds of 11 consecutive drafts from 1999-2009. Over the past three drafts, they chose two linemen in the first round and two in the second. They drafted another tackle/guard in the seventh.

Someone finally started paying attention to what many believe is the most important area of a football team after the quarterback.

"The higher you pick the greater the expectation is by everybody, us included," general manager Kevin Colbert said. "It was no grand design, that's just how these drafts work. ... Really, this year we got three young offensive linemen, so add to that mix and see how it shapes out. You want to get younger and provide competition at every position, but sometimes it breaks where there are more on one side or one position. It really isn't by design; it's just how this class looks like."

It looks more by design.

Five years ago, with their linebackers aging and having cut Joey Porter, the Steelers drafted linebackers one-two. With their defensive line aging, the Steelers drafted two defensive ends in the first round over three drafts. With Casey Hampton turning 35 and recuperating from ACL surgery, they made a trade so they could draft a nose tackle.

However they want to sell it, Roethlisberger was buying.

"They kept me in the loop a little bit," he said in Altoona. "When DeCastro was there, you got to take him. Some are saying he's one of the best guards in college since Alan Faneca. We hope he can live up to the hype."

What had been a crumbling line has been invigorated, but now the job is for the coaches to put together five so they can begin working cohesively, the most important ingredient of an offensive line after talent.

"We're going to see how things go," line coach Sean Kugler said. "We want to get the guys in the best spots. Realistically, I don't want moving parts. It has been more of a necessity for us to have moving parts. We love to have guys at five stable positions and keep them there. We'll get the right five and see where we go from there."

New playbook

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said he will introduce his new playbook to the players this week.

"We'll be allowed to talk this week coming up, so I'm looking forward to it," Roethlisberger said in Altoona. "I know it's going to be a lot different offense as far as the wording, the verbiage. It's a lot tougher. I don't want to say we're taking a step back, but we're starting over in learning the offense. You'll see differences in calling plays. But how much we'll run or pass, I don't know."

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/...berger-633678/ (http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/steelers-beef-up-offensive-line-to-protect-roethlisberger-633678/)

04-30-2012, 02:27 PM
Ben Roethlisberger 'excited' about Steelers O-line draft focus

April 29, 2012

After an offseason of offensive overhaul, Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is happy with the team's O-line focus in NFL Draft, the Altoona Mirror reported.

"I'm really excited," Big Ben said at a speaking engagement on Saturday. "We got some good guys on offense and defense to help add to a team that was good already."

Roethlisberger said he was thrilled the team picked up Stanford guard David DeCastro in the first round and Ohio State tackle Mike Adams in the second round. The Steelers added Southern Methodist tackle Kelvin Beachum in the seventh round.

"You know, at least on paper, it looks awesome," Roethlisberger said. "But you never know until you take the field and the bullets start flying."

Offensive line was a top priority for the Steelers in the draft as the team has consistently been in the lower half of the league in sacks allowed.

The Steelers' offensive line is in flux, dealing with the addition of former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley as offensive coordinator and parting with longtime guard Chris Kemoeatu.

"When DeCastro was there, you got to take him," Roethlisberger said. "Some are saying he's one of the best guards in college since (nine-time Pro Bowler and former Steeler) Alan Faneca. We hope he can live up to the hype."

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d...ne-draft-focus (http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d828bdb32/article/ben-roethlisberger-excited-about-steelers-oline-draft-focus)

05-01-2012, 02:34 AM
Steelers Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is - Part I

by maryrose on Apr 30, 2012

The Pittsburgh Steelers are searching for a happy medium. They have a $102 million quarterback, clearly among the top 10 franchise quarterbacks in the NFL. The strength of Ben Roethlisberger is his toughness, ability to shake defenders and uncanny knack to extend and make plays. The weakness of this style of play is the vulnerability to injury. Roethlisberger, sacked 314 times in his regular-season career, limped along with his team into the playoffs last season and exited stage left as an eight-point favorite.

After the one-and-out playoffs, the Steelers sent messages loud and clear, both in words and in actions. The words came from Art Rooney II, who declared that Big Ben needed to tweak his game. The actions spoke even louder when Pittsburgh fired offensive coordinator and Roethlisberger's backyard grill-mate, Bruce Arians. The mandate of all this? Keep Roethlisberger upright as he enters the second half of his career and reduce the number of times his now 30-year-old body gets blasted. Insisting that Ben tweak his game and changing his immediate boss is all fine and well, but management too must put its money where its mouth is.

The Steelers used a staggering 10 different starting lineups on the offensive line last season. Five different guys played tackle and four different guys played guard. While injuries certainly have created much of the team's line turmoil over the last several years, protecting your $102 million franchise quarterback with linemen picked up at a flea market is like Brinks transporting the Hope Diamond in a Ford Fiesta.

Every year prior to the Draft I scream for two things: cornerbacks and offensive linemen. This year I didn't beg for the former. I want to give our developing guys a chance to show their stuff - Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen - before we add to many more guys onto the pile. This year I threw most of my prayers into the O-line basket (with maybe a middle linebacker and nose tackle sprinkled in).

Interestingly, a case could be made that the Steelers are more dependent upon a premium offensive line than any other NFL team. No other team has a quarterback like Ben, who skakes defenders, buys time and extends plays.

Perhaps Ben should tweak his game a bit, but at the same time, the Steelers do not want to shackle the unique qualities that Ben brings to the table. The last several years have been a chemical mismatch. The strength of guys like Manning, Brees, Brady and Rodgers is that they don't require much time to run their offense effectively.

The strength of Roethlisberger is best displayed when he does have a little time.

Obviously no quarterback wants an offensive line held together with duct tape and paper clips, but with Ben, it is kryptonite. Peyton Manning makes a mediocre line look good. Roethlisberger makes a poor line look horrible.

Enter David DeCastro...