Steelers' Kemoeatu becomes film star
Friday, October 20, 2006
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The rewind button kept clicking in the film room Monday morning, stopping the video and replaying some of the personal highlights from a resounding victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. But it wasn't just the usual suspects who were being highlighted. It wasn't just Ben Roethlisberger or Troy Polamalu or Willie Parker or Nate Washington.
The video kept replaying to get another look at some other awesome plays.
The ones delivered by Chris Kemoeatu.
"There were a couple times when you got to the rewind, it was like -- dang!" said left tackle Marvel Smith.
"Sometimes, you just see him push a guy off the ball and the guy just falls down," said right tackle Max Starks. "Then, you see him blow up into a guy like a linebacker. He's just so powerful and explosive hitting them, he just embarrasses some guys."
"He had some big hits in there," said Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca.
Just call him the Human Highlight Reel.
Kemoeatu got his first National Football League start in the 45-7 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs, replacing injured Kendall Simmons at right guard, and he didn't disappoint any of his teammates with some of his trademark power slams and aggression.
After being inactive for 19 of his first 20 NFL games, Kemoeatu made his first performance a memorable one. He was part of an offensive line that cleared the way for the Steelers to rush for a season-best 219 yards against the Chiefs. And he was part of a unit that gave Roethlisberger more time to pick out receivers running free in the secondary and create more big plays.
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"I can't really say he had one mental error at all," Faneca said. "For a new guy, that's a big thing right there."
"He's got a lot of physical ability," said center Jeff Hartings. "When he knows what to do, he's a very good player. I felt like he did pretty good. He's big and strong and, soon as he figures this game out, he'll be able to be a very physical player."
Kemoeatu, a sixth-round pick in 2005, had some good fortune for his first NFL start. The Chiefs play a basic 4-3 defense that does not use a lot of stunts and games with their defensive linemen. The same cannot be said for the Atlanta Falcons (3-2), whom the Steelers (2-3) face at 1 p.m. Sunday in the Georgia Dome.
They like to change their fronts, run stunts and even flip-flop defensive end John Abraham, their best pass rusher. It is possible, however, that Kemoeatu will not play against the Falcons.
Simmons, who did not play against the Chiefs because of an ice burn on his right foot, has resumed practicing and could play against the Falcons. He was upgraded yesterday from questionable to probable. Simmons, a diabetic, needs to have the skin heal on his foot so the open wound doesn't become infected.
"I probably could have rubbed it up good, took something for it, but it wouldn't have made any sense," Simmons said. "With my medical history, I could screw it up with the inside of my shoe getting all dirty. If something got in through my sock, it would mess me up."
Coach Bill Cowher was non-committal yesterday about Simmons -- "We'll see where [he is] at the end of the week," he said -- but he probably won't have much reluctance to start Kemoeatu, who is 6-foot-3, 344 pounds.
"I was looking forward to seeing him play because, just the little bit that he played in the preseason, I saw him do stuff that I hadn't seen other guys doing." Smith said. "He just seems so strong, he makes some things look easy."
One play, in particular, stood out against the Chiefs. The Steelers ran a draw play on third down in which one of the Chiefs' defensive tackles -- Kemoeatu didn't recall which one -- stood up, thinking it was a pass. Kemoeatu not only came down the line and flattened the lineman with a block, he "kind of hit him again" while he was on the ground.
"It's easy when you catch a guy off guard," Kemoeatu said.
Still, it was a moment that was replayed in the film room.
"What happens with me, coming in as a young guy, I'm kind of antsy and I'm always trying to come off [the ball]," Kemoeatu said. "That's one of the big things I have to work on. Sometimes, I play too aggressive. I try to play every play like 110 percent, and that's good sometimes but sometimes that's bad because sometimes you overshoot stuff. I had to calm down a little."
Either way, it makes an interesting morning in the film room.
First published on October 20, 2006 at 12:00 am