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hawaiiansteel
06-27-2012, 03:39 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers: Three Questions Heading into Training Camp

June 27, 2012
by Football Nation

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1. When will Mike Wallace report to training camp?

This story is getting old real fast for Steelers fans. Mike Wallace still hasn’t signed his one-year tender, which would pay him $2.742 million in non-guaranteed base salary. Wallace’s teammates are optimistic that he’ll be there sooner rather than later however.

According to cornerback Ike Taylor, it’s only a matter of time before Wallace reports to camp. "He's going to be there (training camp)," Taylor told Albert Buford of The Times-Picayune on Saturday. "They'll get it done. When you talk about that kind of money, it's not an overnight type of deal. By the end of the day, I think for sure he's going to get that thing done. Both sides are working together, so that's a good thing."

Steelers fans can only hope that Taylor is right. Wallace has stated that he wants a long-term deal done, and the Steelers have maintained publicly throughout that they would like to lock their best receiver up long-term as well. Naturally, the holdup is over money. I suspect Wallace wants to be paid like an elite, top-five type receiver in the league.

The problem for the Steelers is that statistically, Wallace just isn’t there yet. Wallace had less receiving yards and touchdowns last season than he did in 2010, and he really faded off towards the end of the year after a hot start. In my opinion, Wallace is going to go down as one of the very best deep threats of his generation, and I don’t think a whole lot of people would disagree with me. Even if he hasn’t produced quite like that top-five guy yet, Wallace is likely to only get better with time.

In other words, the Steelers should just quit being stingy and pay up. Without a doubt, they’re going to have to make some seriously tough decisions regarding who to resign and who to let go next offseason. Casey Hampton, Rashard Mendenhall, Larry Foote, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, and Issac Redman all become free agents in 2013. Even if he’s the most expensive of the lot, Wallace is not the one to let go.

2. Can Mike Adams protect Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side?

If the Mike Wallace contract situation is resolved before the season starts, which I suspect it will be, then this definitely becomes the number one question mark for the Steelers. When Mike Adams was drafted, I suspected that Marcus Gilbert would still make the transition to left tackle for at least one season, and Adams would wait a year behind Willie Colon at right tackle. The reason I thought this is because Gilbert was told to prepare to take over at left tackle next season prior to the draft, but clearly the Steelers had a change of plans.

So I was surprised to hear that the Steelers intend to give Adams the first crack at the starting left tackle job heading into training camp. Colon will be moved to left guard. As a Steelers fan, this worries me. If there is any player that could really benefit from sitting on the bench for a season, I thought it was Mike Adams.

Adams has the potential to be a premier left tackle one day, but the key word here is potential. Despite his athletic prowess, Adams was never a premier left tackle at Ohio State, just a good one. Adams has really good feet and an impressive frame, but he lacks adequate upper body strength; he was only able to bust out 19 reps on the bench press at the combine, a very low number for a tackle. Adams needs to get stronger in order to hold up against bull rushers at the next level, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of time to do so.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Adams will eventually be the best player the Steelers have had at left tackle since Marvel Smith’s prime, but he’s being thrown into the fire awfully early. Adams should at least be an immediate upgrade over what the Steelers had to deal with at left tackle last season, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

The Steelers desperately need to keep Roethlisberger upright more this season so he stays healthy for a playoff run. If he takes as many shots as he did last season, another serious injury is almost inevitable. It’s an oversimplification of course, but in a way, the fate of the Steelers season depends on how quickly Mike Adams can develop.

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3. Can Isaac Redman carry the load?

It may sound like blasphemy, but the fact is the Steelers don’t need an amazing running game to win the Super Bowl next season. All they need is a pretty good one, which I think they’re going to have. That’s why this question is number three and not higher. Still, Isaac Redman has extremely limited experience starting and concerns over his ability to adequately fill the shoes of Rashard Mendenhall are valid. So will he be able to?

Let me start off by saying, I love the talent of Rashard Mendenhall. When he gets out in the open field, he’s one of the better backs in football and is a lot of fun to watch. The problem for Mendenhall, however, is in getting out in the open field where he can use the skills that made him a first-round pick in 2008.

Mendenhall’s mediocre statistics are not all his fault; he has never had the advantage of running behind the type of run blocking offensive line that the great Steelers running backs of the past had. Still, for a bigger back Mendenhall’s lack of power is a little disappointing.

He’s got great speed and his moves in the open field are second to none, but he dances too much in the backfield as opposed to just hitting the hole and finding positive yardage. All too often, Mendenhall gets completely stuffed when he could have just put his head down and picked up a few yards.

These criticisms make Isaac Redman very appealing to Steelers fans. Redman doesn’t have half as much talent as Mendenhall, but he has good vision and power. Unlike the flashier Mendenhall, Redman gets north and south and into the hole quickly.

He’s not going to wow anyone with his speed or his lateral quickness, but his production last season in relief of Mendenhall was very impressive. In an admittedly small sample size, Redman rushed for 479 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Mendenhall, on the other hand, only averaged 4.1 yards per carry.

I’m not ready to write off the career of Mendenhall just yet, he’s way too gifted for that, but it remains to be seen just how much the Steelers running game will actually suffer during his absence. Mendenhall may very well return towards the end of the season, but the Steelers can’t count on it.

Note: If you’re surprised that I didn’t include something about Ben Roethlisberger having to learn a new system under Todd Haley, then let me briefly explain myself. The media has made a lot of this, and some of it has to do with what’s been looked at as clashing personalities between the two.

Let me be clear, Todd Haley is a very good offensive coordinator with a track record for success, and Ben Roethlisberger is an elite quarterback. There’s no substantial evidence that the two can’t coexist and get along, and there’s also no reason to believe that Roethlisberger can’t have his best season yet under Haley.

Bruce Arians gave Roethlisberger a lot of freedom which he certainly enjoyed having, but let’s be honest, the guy wasn’t that great of an offensive coordinator. Todd Haley is an upgrade, and Roethlisberger should only benefit from playing for him.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/pittsburgh_steelers_three_questions_heading_into_t raining_camp/11100437

hawaiiansteel
06-28-2012, 12:46 AM
Saint Vincent ready for Steelers training camp

June 27, 2012
By Douglas Farmer / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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A year after their training camp nearly was delayed by the NFL labor dispute, the Steelers are poised to report to training camp at Saint Vincent College July 25, with their first practice open to the public July 27.

The uncertainty over camp opening dates last year affected attendance, but it is expected to rebound this year, said Don Orlando, public relations director at Saint Vincent.

"The fact that the camp dates have already been announced, I am certain that there will be a return of the crowds we love so well and camp attendance will be pretty good this year," he said.

Orlando expects more than 100,000 fans to attend camp, and, as with last year, they will see changes resulting from the 2011 labor dispute and subsequent collective bargaining agreement. Teams are prohibited from practicing in pads twice a day, and time in pads is limited to three hours each day. Players may be on the field for a total of four hours a day. In the previous CBA, there was no limit on length of practice or time in pads, according to an NFL Players Association representative.

Despite the stricter rules, there will be plenty of chances for fans to see the Steelers, with 16 open practices spread over the entire camp. The team will be in helmets and shorts for the first practice, but each practice after that, beginning July 28, is scheduled to include contact and pads. Training camp will include a 7 p.m. practice Aug. 3 at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.

Saint Vincent provides free parking and free admission to those who attend camp. Orlando said parking this year will be at the same location as in previous years -- the agricultural fields adjacent to the practice fields. Concessions will be available throughout the campus.

"There certainly are lots of other activities that take place at Saint Vincent during the period the Steelers are here," Orlando said. "But the Steelers are the center of attention."

The Steelers have held training camp in Latrobe for 47 consecutive summers. In 2007, Saint Vincent named the field after legendary Steelers coach Chuck Noll.

"We are very proud of the productive and continuous relationship we've had with the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as the Rooney family," Orlando said. "They are close friends of the college."

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/...r-camp-642058/ (http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/saint-vincent-ready-for-camp-642058/)

hawaiiansteel
06-29-2012, 11:38 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers: Offensive Line Youth Could Be Concern for Steelers

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
By Seth Austin - NFL Writer

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Entering the 2012 NFL draft, the need to beef up the offensive line was apparent for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After allowing 42 sacks and 77 quarterback hits, 2011 is a season quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would like to forget. The Steelers have since parted ways with Chris Kemoeatu and Max Starks and decided to utilize the draft to improve upon the talent up front.

In the first two rounds, the Steelers sat back and drafted guys with high values that fell past where they were projected to be selected. In the first round, they drafted Stanford's David DeCastro and in the second round took Ohio State's big tackle, Mike Adams.

Both rookies could be expected to start come Week 1, meaning Pittsburgh's offensive line could be one of the youngest and least experienced in the league. The starter with the most experience, Willie Colon, will be making a transition to left guard, meaning even he will be in an unfamiliar territory.

Rounding out the projected starters are two Florida Gators -- Marcus Gilbert and Maurkice Pouncey. Gilbert was the Steelers second round selection a year ago and made 13 starts at tackle last season. Pouncey has been a star since he was drafted in 2010 and the Steelers are a better team when he is healthy. Just look at two games he has missed -- Super Bowl XLV and last year's Wild Card loss to Denver.

Although Pittsburgh could be primed to have one of the best offensive lines for years to come, this year could be a struggle. No Rashard Mendenall means Isaac Redman and company will have to take on a bigger roles as feature backs, something they are not used to. With a "by committee" attitude in the backfield, more pressure falls on Roethlisberger who will be protected from the pass rush by two young tackles.

In a division where Baltimore and Cincinnati each finished in the top ten in sacks and all three division counterparts finished in the top ten in total defense, Pittsburgh's young offensive line will have a tough challenge ahead in.

In the offense's first year under Todd Haley, they will need to find creative ways to protect Roethisberger and give him time to orchestrate the offense. This could mean using veteran tight end Heath Miller and fullback David Johnson as personal protectors or as lead blockers in the run game.

One thing is for certain: Roethlisberger must remain healthy if the Steelers want to avoid the same fate they met in 2011. If Big Ben sustains an injury like the one he did last year against Cleveland, their ship will surely sink once again. It will be up to this youthful, new-look offensive line to ensure the Steelers will be successful this year and beyond.

http://www.nationalfootballauthority...-steelers.html (http://www.nationalfootballauthority.com/2012/06/edited-kris-qc-pittsburgh-steelers.html)__________________

Crash
06-30-2012, 12:17 AM
1. When camp ends.

2. Yes, he'll improve as the season goes along.

3. No, he'll need to split carries with someone. Haley likes multiple backs.

hawaiiansteel
07-06-2012, 08:13 PM
Offseason Breakdown: Pittsburgh Steelers

SI.com
July 7, 2012

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Pittsburgh running back Isaac Redman has averaged 4.5 yards per carry during his brief NFL career. (AP)

With NFL training camps just around the corner, we’re taking a team-by-team look at how the offseason played out and what you can expect in 2012. Click here to read them all.

Pittsburgh has long been one of the NFL’s steadiest and most reliable franchises. An offseason spent purging and restocking the roster will put that consistency to the test.

Two years removed from a Super Bowl loss to the Packers, the Steelers will be asking more of their young core of players than at any point in recent memory. That said, the Pittsburgh roster would still be the envy of a large number of teams in the league.

This season could go any number of ways for Pittsburgh, which lost a tiebreaker for the AFC North to Baltimore last season and then bowed out in the first round of the playoffs.

It’s always Super Bowl or bust in the Steel City, but will expectations have to change this year?

2011 Record: 12-4 (t-first in AFC North; lost wild-card round game to Broncos)
Key Additions: OT Mike Adams, G David DeCastro, NT Alameda Ta’amu
Key Subtractions: LB James Farrior, CB William Gay, NT Chris Hoke, G Chris Kemoeatu, CB Bryant McFadden, DE Aaron Smith, OT Max Starks, WR Hines Ward
Team Strengths: WR, QB, OLB, S
Team Weaknesses: RB, CB, ILB

Three Things to Watch

1. Will there be a leadership void?: Between them, Ward, Hoke, Smith, Farrior and Kemoeatu played 55 combined seasons with the Steelers. Somehow, Pittsburgh has to figure out how to replace those players, on and off the field, after a rash of retirements and cost-cutting moves this offseason.

Farrior, especially, had been a linchpin on Pittsburgh’s defense, starting all but six regular-season games at linebacker since 2002. Meanwhile, Ward, a 1998 third-round pick by Pittsburgh, has long been one of the faces of the franchise and was the steady, veteran presence on a young and developing receiving corps in recent seasons.

Even if the salary cap-induced roster bloodletting helped Pittsburgh undergo a much-needed youth movement, it’s impossible to plug that kind of experience and familiarity back into the lineup.

Because of that, the onus will fall on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to lead the way, even more so than in the past. He’ll need some help from guys like LaMarr Woodley and Mike Wallace (if the latter ever signs his restricted free agent tender and reports). A host of veterans still remains: Troy Polamalu, Larry Foote, James Harrison and Heath Miller, to name a few. Still, given how much emotional roster turnover Pittsburgh has undergone in the last few months, some shaky moments are likely.

2. Can Isaac Redman hold down the fort at RB?: The torn ACL that Rashard Mendenhall suffered in Week 17 last season figures to have some long-ranging consequences for the Steelers. Peter King reported in June that Mendenhall likely will miss several weeks of the 2012 regular season, meaning he’s a safe bet to start the year on the PUP list.

That outlook shifts all the attention to fourth-year back Redman, who churned out 121 yards rushing in Mendenhall’s stead during Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to Denver. Redman has shown himself to be a serviceable back when given the chance, notching 479 yards on 110 carries last season and averaging 4.5 yards per carry in his brief career.

What he has not done yet, however, is carry the load for an extended period of time. The three guys behind him on the depth chart (John Clay, Jonathan Dwyer and rookie Chris Rainey) have a total of 192 NFL rushing yards between them, so the onus is clearly on Redman.

Pittsburgh is not nearly as run-heavy as it used to be — nor should it be with Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and others at wide receiver — but a huge drop-off in the backfield would limit the team’s offensive options.

If Redman struggles mightily, it also would make it easier for defenses to key on Roethlisberger, which won’t make the quarterback feel too confident after he was sacked a whopping 40 times last season. Plain and simple, Pittsburgh needs Redman to be effective until Mendenhall can return.

3. How good will the rookies be?: If each NFL team’s salary-cap situation were compared to a country’s economic standing, the Steelers would have been Greece heading into this offseason. Pittsburgh found itself millions and millions over the 2012 cap, which not only led to the shuttling of guys like Ward (via semi-forced retirement) and Farrior, but more or less left the Steelers without the option of diving into the free-agent market.

So, the draft became hugely important for Pittsburgh’s reloading efforts.

And the Steelers appeared to nail it. They snatched up Stanford guard DeCastro in Round 1, after he somehow tumbled to No. 24; they added Ohio State tackle Adams in Round 2; and then they rounded things out with Rainey, who’s expected to contribute in the backfield and on special teams, linebacker Sean Spence and nose tackle Ta’amu.

DeCastro and Adams already are penciled into the starting lineup, while Ta’amu could see major minutes behind Steve McClendon at nose tackle. The DeCastro/Adams tandem will be asked to help upgrade a struggling offensive line that suddenly looks built for the future — right tackle Marcus Gilbert was a second-round pick last year, and center Maurkice Pouncey a first-rounder in 2010.

Outlook

Baltimore continues to remain a strong AFC contender, and Cincinnati came out of nowhere last year to challenge. Even as Cleveland continues its perpetual rebuild, Pittsburgh has its hands full in the division.

There remains enough talent here for the Steelers to make a run. Barring a complete collapse, they should be in the mix for a playoff berth, and their potentially explosive offense and playmaking defense will keep them a threat if they get to the postseason.

If there was a year when Pittsburgh might take a step back, though, it would be this one.

http://nfl.si.com/2012/07/04/offseas...tion=si_latest (http://nfl.si.com/2012/07/04/offseason-breakdown-pittsburgh-steelers/?section=si_latest)

hawaiiansteel
07-09-2012, 01:49 AM
Steelers need young defensive players to step up

By Marc Sessler
Published: July 6, 2012

Warren Sapp (playing to character) ruffled feathers last season when he tagged the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense as old, slow and on the way out. That war cry was premature.

The Steelers finished with the league's top unit -- easy to forget after the disaster flick we witnessed in Denver.

Tim Tebow, of all souls, fried Pittsburgh in an AFC wild-card overtime thriller, sending the Steelers home as a confused bunch.

The offseason has brought change: Aaron Smith has retired; James Farrior is out the door, and cornerback William Gay won't be back in 2012. Many of the Steelers veterans are aging (Brett Keisel and his flowing beard are 33; James Harrison -- still terrifying -- is 34). This remains one of the NFL's best defenses, but the time is now for youth to fill in the gaps for coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Who's under the microscope? Let's start here:

1. Cameron Heyward: The Steelers have taught proper 3-4 defense to the rest of the league for years. Versatile play from your down linemen is key to this scheme and Heyward is a building block at defensive end. He's an intriguing physical prospect, but didn't start a game last in 2011 after being slowed by offseason surgery. He wasn't asked to carry much weight as a rookie, but the training wheels are off.

2. Ziggy Hood: Another former first-round pick along the defensive line, Hood is Heyward's key competition to fill the void left by Aaron Smith. Hood also plays inside, but Casey Hampton (another 30-something) remains penciled in at nose tackle, if he can stay healthy. Hood shed pounds and gained muscle this offseason, and remains an intriguing pass rusher.

3. The young defensive backfield: Teams are using three-plus DBs throughout games, especially against a weapon-rich team like the New England Patriots. Pittsburgh has a crew of young cornerbacks ready to see an increased workload. Keenan Lewis is the likely starter across from Ike Taylor, but Cortez Allen could make his case in training camp. Curtis Brown will see the field in nickel situations. The trio must prove they belong in Pittsburgh.

Let's pump the brakes on the "old and slow" jokes, but for the Steelers to remain at the top, these younger players must emerge in 2012.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82a5edbd/article/steelers-need-young-defensive-players-to-step-up?module=HP11_content_stream

Oviedo
07-09-2012, 07:36 AM
Steelers need young defensive players to step up

By Marc Sessler
Published: July 6, 2012

Warren Sapp (playing to character) ruffled feathers last season when he tagged the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense as old, slow and on the way out. That war cry was premature.

The Steelers finished with the league's top unit -- easy to forget after the disaster flick we witnessed in Denver.

Tim Tebow, of all souls, fried Pittsburgh in an AFC wild-card overtime thriller, sending the Steelers home as a confused bunch.

The offseason has brought change: Aaron Smith has retired; James Farrior is out the door, and cornerback William Gay won't be back in 2012. Many of the Steelers veterans are aging (Brett Keisel and his flowing beard are 33; James Harrison -- still terrifying -- is 34). This remains one of the NFL's best defenses, but the time is now for youth to fill in the gaps for coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Who's under the microscope? Let's start here:

1. Cameron Heyward: The Steelers have taught proper 3-4 defense to the rest of the league for years. Versatile play from your down linemen is key to this scheme and Heyward is a building block at defensive end. He's an intriguing physical prospect, but didn't start a game last in 2011 after being slowed by offseason surgery. He wasn't asked to carry much weight as a rookie, but the training wheels are off.

2. Ziggy Hood: Another former first-round pick along the defensive line, Hood is Heyward's key competition to fill the void left by Aaron Smith. Hood also plays inside, but Casey Hampton (another 30-something) remains penciled in at nose tackle, if he can stay healthy. Hood shed pounds and gained muscle this offseason, and remains an intriguing pass rusher.

3. The young defensive backfield: Teams are using three-plus DBs throughout games, especially against a weapon-rich team like the New England Patriots. Pittsburgh has a crew of young cornerbacks ready to see an increased workload. Keenan Lewis is the likely starter across from Ike Taylor, but Cortez Allen could make his case in training camp. Curtis Brown will see the field in nickel situations. The trio must prove they belong in Pittsburgh.

Let's pump the brakes on the "old and slow" jokes, but for the Steelers to remain at the top, these younger players must emerge in 2012.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82a5edbd/article/steelers-need-young-defensive-players-to-step-up?module=HP11_content_stream

Why does everyone want to delegate Curtis Brown to the nickel position when he is the most athletic, best cover corner we have?

Slapstick
07-09-2012, 07:39 AM
Why does everyone want to delegate Curtis Brown to the nickel position when he is the most athletic, best cover corner we have?

Because nobody really knows if he's the most athletic, best cover corner we have...

He plays great special teams, so we all have high hopes, but Cortez Allen was the rookie who earned playing time last year...

I would love to see Curtis Brown become a badass...with McFadden and Gay no longer on the roster, he'll have to step up...