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hawaiiansteel
07-11-2012, 04:48 PM
Three Steelers Primed for Bounce-Back Seasons

Jul 11th, 2012 by DomSteelers

Over the weekend, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah constructed a list of three players which he believed could have “bounce-back” seasons in 2012. Even though the list featured zero Steelers players (Philip Rivers, Chris Johnson, and Josh Freeman were Jeremiah’s Top Three), there are a few guys on Pittsburgh’s roster which will be looking to improve upon their performances from 2011. So which Steelers do I believe will enjoy bounce-back seasons? Read on to find out why:

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Lawrence Timmons

The 2010 season was a banner campaign for Lawrence Timmons as he posted 135 Tackles, 3.0 Sacks, 9 Passes Defended, 2 Interceptions, 2 Forced Fumbles, and 2 Fumble Recoveries. Before last season began, Timmons was signed to a contract extension, and all appeared to be going swell for the former Seminole. Yet as Craig alluded to not too long ago, Timmons saw a drop-off in production during the 2011 season, and really needs to step up over the coming months.

In 2011, Timmons saw his Tackle (93), Sack (2.0), Passes Defended (5), and Interception (1) numbers all decrease. While Timmons may have had an off year (especially in pass coverage in my opinion), part of it was not wholly Timmons’ fault, and was in turn a major contributor to his statistics and performance taking a dip.

Because of injuries to the Steelers top three Outside Linebackers, Timmons had to play an extended period out of position last season, and he definitely did not look comfortable when he filled in on the outside when he was rushing the passer, taking on blocks, or defending the pass. If Timmons can stick and stay at the “Mack” spot this year, we could see a huge improvement in his Tackle numbers as well as impact on the Defensive side of the football in general, because he will be playing the position he is the most familiar with during his career.

Plus, if Pittsburgh’s young Defensive Linemen (Ziggy Hood, Cameron Heyward, and Steve McLendon) can team with Brett Keisel to eat up blockers in the run game, the athletic Timmons will be able to flow to the ball just like he did in seasons past and do damage against the run like he did over the course of the 2009 and 2010 campaigns.

As far as Timmons’ improvement in the passing game and his overall pass rushing goes, it would not hurt to see LeBeau use Timmons a little bit less in pass coverage, or used in more favorable matchups than he was last season. One such way would be to utilize and line Cortez Allen and/or Curtis Brown up against some of the more athletic Backs and Ends Timmons has had to face, and then allowing Timmons to provide help when the opportunity arises. As far as pass rushing, Timmons would be of great value blitzing through the A-Gap in some exotic packages. LeBeau has used James Farrior and Larry Foote in this manner over the years, and Timmons is a quicker and more athletic option than both players. Lawrence’s speed and explosiveness could create havoc in the middle of the Offensive Line, and also free up other pass-rushers if too much attention is paid to him.

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Willie Colon

While many consider (and rightfully so) Mike Adams and his development at Left Tackle to be the X-Factor for the Offensive Line (and Offense in general) and their success in 2012, Willie Colon’s transition and subsequent play at Left Guard will be just as important. And if all goes according to plan, Colon should enjoy himself a bounce-back year too.

In my opinion, Colon will simply have a solid season if he is able to play an injury-free and does a somewhat effective job at his new spot. Now the “old sage” on Pittsburgh’s young and talented Offensive Line, the 29 year-old Colon can help to mentor the younger Linemen as they develop and improve their overall games’. Colon has far and away the most experience in terms of starts along the Steelers’ projected starting unit (51 Regular Season, 4 Postseason), and has played in more “big games” than any other member at the professional level.

If Colon proves that his Achilles and Triceps are not issues, Pittsburgh’s Interior Offensive Line could inevitably be a force to be reckoned with this season. With an athletic trio consisting of Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, and David DeCastro, Pittsburgh’s Offense as a whole will reap the benefits. The Steelers’ big Backs (Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, John Clay) will likely be the biggest beneficiaries of Colon kicking inside and the upgrades on the Interior, and the whole running game as a whole should improve if the unit can gel quickly. Furthermore, a Left Guard like Colon with a Tackle’s skill-set in pass-protection will only be an improvement over the sieve-like Chris Kemoeatu and some of his performances over the last couple of seasons, and most importantly Big Ben could take fewer hits because of Colon’s pass-protection upgrade over Kemoeatu.

http://nicepickcowher.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/58/files/2012/07/5749360-300x199.jpg?c691c1

Emmanuel Sanders

After a Rookie season which saw him emerge as a reliable target for Big Ben as the season progressed (28 Catches for 376 Yards and 2 TD’s), Emmanuel Sanders sustained a “Sophomore Slump” last year. And while Sanders did not see his entire season essentially erased due to an injury like Colon, knee and foot ailments did keep Emmanuel out of the lineup for significant periods of time. and his stats took a bit of a tumble (22 Catches for 288 Yards and 2 TD’s). Much like Colon though, if Sanders comes back at full-strength this season and keeps himself healthy, he should be ready to bounce-back in 2012.

At full strength, Sanders has shown that he can be quite the effective option in the slot. When he was healthy, Big Ben looked his way often, and Sanders even led the team in Catches (6 Catches for 81 Yards) in the Steelers’ postseason loss to Denver six months ago. Luckily for Sanders, he should see many opportunities this season to take advantage of because of all of the talent Pittsburgh has in the pass catching department.

With all of the attention being paid to Antonio Brown and (hopefully) Mike Wallace, it will be Sanders as well as Jerricho Cotchery which might enjoy the open space in the middle of the field and extremely favorable matchups against Linebackers, Nickel/Dime Backs, and Safeties as well. With two Pro Bowl Wide Receivers in the lineup, the opposition will have to make some difficult decisions when Pittsburgh decides to go with three, four, and even five wide sets, and Sanders could very well be the one to reap the benefits and see his numbers steadily increase.

Final Thoughts

It is always nice to see players improve after the sustain a rough season. Whether it was due to playing out of position, injuries, or simply inconsistency the year before, there are few things which make me smile as a fan more than to see things go right for a guy after they sustained some hard times. These three will be especially important pieces for the Steelers to succeed this season and beyond, and the stage has been set for them to get things back on track. Let’s just hope that all goes according to plan and the rest of the team as well as them can step up their games’ in 2012.

http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/07/11/three-steelers-primed-for-bounce-back-seasons/

D Rock
07-11-2012, 05:41 PM
I think blitzing Timmons more is an excellent idea. In my opinion, the best way to do it would be to find someone else to take the coverage linebacker role...someone fast, and athletic, football smart, and instinctive....Hellllloooooo Sean Spence!

Timmons has been very disruptive in the past coming up the middle, and I think turning him loose in that role would be excellent for the defense. In past seasons he had to cover because no other linebackers could...not anymore. I think the coaches should specifically train Spence for a coverage role this year and see what him and Timmons can do teamed up on passing downs.

Oviedo
07-11-2012, 11:01 PM
It is ridiculous that Timmons hasn't been sent on the blitz more often and hopefully that is corrected this season. I am hopeful for Colon, but I think Sanders is the guy who will really make this offense impossible to defend against.

NorthCoast
07-13-2012, 09:19 AM
Sanders can emerge as a gamechanger if he can stay healthy. But his history of issues is starting to be a concern. Slot receivers need to be able to take some big hits and I am not sure he has the stature for it.

Shawn
07-13-2012, 09:54 AM
Our OL is the biggest factor in our ability to improve this season. I truly believe much of our O woes were OL related more than Arians related. Don't get me wrong BA played a role, but you can't score in the redzone with the crap OL we had last season.

Oviedo
07-13-2012, 10:30 AM
Our OL is the biggest factor in our ability to improve this season. I truly believe much of our O woes were OL related more than Arians related. Don't get me wrong BA played a role, but you can't score in the redzone with the crap OL we had last season.

I agree. A better OL would have made Arians look far better. I always said we never really could tell what we were trying to do on a play because the OL execution was so consistently poor.

Flasteel
07-13-2012, 11:25 AM
I agree. A better OL would have made Arians look far better. I always said we never really could tell what we were trying to do on a play because the OL execution was so consistently poor.

I agree to an extent, but one of my biggest problems with Arians is that he rarely adapted his play-calling to compensate for the O-line issues. Very few screens, draws, roll-outs, 3-step drops, or use of the no-huddle. All we got after his first two years was the bubble screen and he turned that into a predictable calamity.

Sugar
07-13-2012, 12:42 PM
I agree. A better OL would have made Arians look far better. I always said we never really could tell what we were trying to do on a play because the OL execution was so consistently poor.

Agreed. Haley will look better than him because of this, if for no other reason. There's no way to do it, but it would be interesting to see what Haley would have done with last years line issues and what BA could do with this years front.

hawaiiansteel
07-19-2012, 05:47 PM
Steelers 2012 Position Battles: 3rd Wide Receiver

July 18th, 2012

The Steelers are set at the number one and number two receiver position. Mike Wallace is the guy. Even if he holds out for a little bit of camp he will still be the number one receiver. Antonio Brown came out of nowhere last season and took grasp of the number 2 role. These guys are basically cemented in to their spots.

That leaves a number 3 receiver battle in the works. It should be a good one to watch. The Steelers have Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery vying for the position. Both guys are deserving of the role and could play it very well. This camp battle will be fun to watch. These two guys are professionals and will battle it out the entire time in camp.

Lets start with Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery is a veteran who knows how to get open and knows how to make plays. He has been a number 1 receiver before in this league and knows what the position entails. His experience shows up big when it matters.

By the end of last season Cotchery had earned the trust of Ben Roethlisberger. It was almost as if Cotchery had become Ben’s new Hines Ward. When he was in trouble or needed a first down he was firing it out to Cotchery. Cotchery made some big catches late in the season. He and Roethlisberger were in sync. Cotchery will try to ride that momentum into this years camp to win the number 3 spot in this offense.

Emmanuel Sanders on the other hand is the young up and comer. He played well as a rookie when the team went to the Super Bowl but missed the second half of the game due to injury. He struggled to get that injury healed in time for camp last season. It cost him some time and it pretty much cost him a spot.

Sanders was expected to be the guy who stepped up when Ward started to disappear from the offense. Sanders was out with injury himself though and was passed on the depth chart by Brown. Brown took the spot and never looked back. He became Roethlisberger’s main target last season and won the team MVP for the Steelers.

All that being said if Sanders can stay healthy he should have a good chance to earn this spot. In my opinion Sanders is the best receiver on the Steelers roster. He is not the fastest like Wallace. He is not the big play maker like Brown. He is the best route runner and understands his job better then anyone else though. When healthy I trust that Sanders can get the job done no matter what. His ability to break open then find the hole in the defense sit down and make the play is what sets him apart. Sanders is still a hidden gem if he can stay healthy as I finish beating a dead horse.

This is a new offense and it needs to be run correctly and Roethlisberger needs to be in tune with whoever is in that spot. This offense can go to new height this year. Sanders is a good student of the game and will pick up the offense quickly. He will be making the right reads and running the right routes. I think it is time for the Young Money Crew to take off and become unstoppable.

This spot goes to Sanders.

http://www4.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Emmanuel+Sanders+Carolina+Panthers+v+Pittsburgh+NI QRC2D9-0Ql.jpg

http://bleedblackandgold.com/blog/2012/07/18/steelers-2012-position-battles-3rd-wide-receiver/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BleedBlackAndGold+%28Bleed+Bl ack+and+Gold%29

Shoe
07-19-2012, 08:22 PM
The more you think about it, the more you gotta feel as though Colon is simply a stopgap at this point in his career... and that the best we can hope for (for him) is an injury-free year. At his best, he's been considered a "good" O-lineman (Tackle) in this game. I think those days are behind him.

I think he can be a Kendall Simmons-like presence on our o-line at this point. TWO season-ending surgeries seem to indicate that you can't play at a certain level anymore. If not, they at least say that you aren't the athlete you were before the injuries hit.

RuthlessBurgher
07-19-2012, 08:25 PM
A torn Achilles followed by a triceps injury are two completely, unrelated fluke injuries, though. It's not as if he has bone-on-bone in his knee, or recurring problems with his back which will not subside.

Slapstick
07-19-2012, 10:11 PM
A torn Achilles followed by a triceps injury are two completely, unrelated fluke injuries, though. It's not as if he has bone-on-bone in his knee, or recurring problems with his back which will not subside.

+1

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again:

Max Starks also ended each of the last two seasons on IR with two completely unrelated fluke injuries and people are ready to put him in the starting lineup...

Same thing as Colon, only Colon's timing was much worse...

Sugar
07-20-2012, 11:24 PM
+1

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again:

Max Starks also ended each of the last two seasons on IR with two completely unrelated fluke injuries and people are ready to put him in the starting lineup...

Same thing as Colon, only Colon's timing was much worse...

Colon's everything was much worse. Just sayin...

Shawn
07-20-2012, 11:47 PM
It's time t turn Timmons into more of a free lancer, and allow Troy to play a more traditional SS role.

NJ-STEELER
07-21-2012, 09:12 AM
they describe colon as 'athletic' ? really??


i wouldnt send timmons on the blitz more. I dont recall him getting a sack unless he comes free unblocked and on the outside he's too easily picked up by an RB, unlike our OLBs

RuthlessBurgher
07-21-2012, 02:22 PM
It's time t turn Timmons into more of a free lancer, and allow Troy to play a more traditional SS role.

For now, Troy can still be that guy. In a year or two, they'll transition to Sean Spence being the freelancer. While Timmons has the athletic ability, I wouldn't say that he is the most instinctual player who tends to know what the offense is doing before everyone else like Troy. Spence, on the other hand, is lauded for his tremendous football instincts. It's off-the-charts instincts that make for an effective freelancer, not just athletic ability.

SteelAbility
07-21-2012, 06:29 PM
Timmons, with his virtually unlimited potential, is a sure bet to bounce back. ;)