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Thread: Tonight last chance for some Steelers

  1. #1
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    Tonight last chance for some Steelers

    Tonight last chance for some Steelers
    Thursday, August 28, 2008
    By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08241/907598-66.stm

    The Steelers don't have any major decisions to make after the preseason finale tonight against the Carolina Panthers. Every starting position except for punter has been determined.

    The most important part of the game will be avoiding injuries. For a select few players fighting for jobs, however, this game is the biggest of the season.

    "It's a big week for a lot of reasons," coach Mike Tomlin said. "It's the last opportunity for a lot of men to make an impression. We have some critical decisions to make as a football team."

    Tomlin said between three and five roster spots have not been determined. For players vying for those positions, this game could be the difference between earning an NFL paycheck, being placed on the practice squad or being out of a job.

    One of the key decisions will be how many quarterbacks Tomlin decides to carry. Backup Charlie Batch had surgery to repair a broken collarbone and might not be ready to return for another few weeks.

    Veteran Byron Leftwich was signed to replace Batch, and rookie Dennis Dixon was drafted in the fifth round with the intention that he would be the backup of the future.

    Leftwich has impressed Tomlin in the limited amount of time he has been in camp. The decision could be whether Leftwich has impressed enough to keep him over Batch while Dixon learns the system. Batch, in the final year of his contract, has been on the roster since 2002.

    "Based on what [Leftwich] has done to this point, there is comfort," Tomlin said. "Every day is so important for him because there have been very few days and opportunities. So far, he has taken advantage of those opportunities and gotten better. He has to continue to do that. [Tonight] will be a part of that."

    After Ben Roethlisberger plays a series or two against the Panthers, Leftwich and Dixon will take the rest of the snaps.

    "I knew I could come in and learn it quick," Leftwich said. "I've learned as much as I could learn in a short period of time. It's still football. I'm comfortable with it. I'm just enjoying it and having fun."

    One of the other key battles will be for the fifth receiver position. Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington and likely Limas Sweed have the team made. The fifth and final receiver position is between Willie Reid and Dallas Baker.

    "They've had good moments and they've had moments that haven't been so good," Tomlin said. "They're fighting. They're young guys. They make mistakes. Hopefully, they don't make too many. That's a hotly contested battle, one that may be waged on [tonight] and ultimately decide how those spots unfold."

    Tomlin was speaking of Reid, Baker and Sweed in that response, but it's hard to imagine any scenario where Sweed is not on the 53-man roster. He has struggled at times and has been laid up with a knee injury lately, but he is a second-round pick with loads of potential.

    Reid impressed with his performance last week against Minnesota when he led the team with five receptions for 55 yards.

    "It's one of those things where it's a day-to-day battle," Reid said. "I'm not getting caught up in numbers and who's doing what. I just go out and play my best and play my game."

    Reid, a third-round draft pick in the 2006 draft, played in one game as a rookie before suffering a season-ending foot injury. He played in five games last season. Reid was a standout punt-returner at Florida State, but he has yet to flash great return skills in the NFL.

    Tomlin said Reid and Eddie Drummond will split the punt- and kick-return duties against the Panthers.

    "I talked to them and let them know I want my shot to do some punt- and kick-return stuff because that's what I do and I feel I'm real capable of doing it," Reid said. "I think of myself as being able to do the whole nine yards, being able to do whatever they want me to do. Return kicks, cover kicks, catches passes, block, whatever."

    A few other decisions the Steelers could make:

    Safety -- Veteran Tyrone Carter and rookie Ryan Mundy are battling for one spot. Mundy, who has been out since Aug. 8 with a high ankle sprain, did not play in the past two preseason games and will not play tonight.

    Cornerback -- Special teams standout Anthony Madison and undrafted rookie Roy Lewis are vying for one spot. Madison is a special-teams demon while Lewis, who played at the University of Washington, has been impressive in his first camp.

    Defensive end -- The Steelers brought in Orpheus Roye to push Ryan McBean, last year's fourth-round pick.

    Linebacker -- Third-round pick Bruce Davis, sixth-round pick Mike Humpal and veteran Andre Frazier could be fighting for one spot.

    Tight end -- The Steelers have kept three tight ends in the past. Lee Vickers and Dezmond Sherrod could be battling for one spot unless Tomlin uses backup tackle Max Starks as the third tight end.

    Offensive line -- If the Steelers keep 10 linemen, fourth-round pick Tony Hills likely will make the team. If not, they'll try to sneak him through to the practice squad.

    Punter -- Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster were brought in to replace injured starter Daniel Sepulveda. They will split the punting duties against Carolina. Ernster performed the punting duties in the first and third preseason games, Berger in the second. Ernster averaged 48 yards per punt last week against Minnesota.

    Molon labe

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  2. #2
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    Re: Tonight last chance for some Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by fordfixer
    Tomlin said Reid and Eddie Drummond will split the punt- and kick-return duties against the Panthers.

    I'm glad they are finally giving Reid a shot at returns now that he finally seems to be healthy after a couple of injury plagued years. I think Moore and Mendenhall will be the primary punt and kick returners, respectively. I don't want Santonio risking injury on a return, and I don't want to keep a guy like Drummond who is only a marginal return talent at this point that does not contibute at any other position.

    Safety -- Veteran Tyrone Carter and rookie Ryan Mundy are battling for one spot. Mundy, who has been out since Aug. 8 with a high ankle sprain, did not play in the past two preseason games and will not play tonight.

    If Mundy was healthy, I think he would have won this job. But you can't make the club from the tub. That fact that he won't play in the final game, plus the fact that Carter played pretty well against his former mates in Minny in Troy's stead means that we have another year of Tyrone with Mundy getting a redshirt year on the PS.

    Cornerback -- Special teams standout Anthony Madison and undrafted rookie Roy Lewis are vying for one spot. Madison is a special-teams demon while Lewis, who played at the University of Washington, has been impressive in his first camp.

    Lewis has the flexibility to fill in at corner or safety. That gives him the edge here.

    Defensive end -- The Steelers brought in Orpheus Roye to push Ryan McBean, last year's fourth-round pick.

    Although Tomlin wanted to get younger in the trenches, bring in Roye actually made them older. But in a limited role to keep the starters fresh, the old fella fits better than McBean, who looked overmatched at times in spite of physical tools that still make you want to see what this guy might have in store in the future. Another year on the PS for McBean, I think.

    Linebacker -- Third-round pick Bruce Davis, sixth-round pick Mike Humpal and veteran Andre Frazier could be fighting for one spot.

    It's Davis. You don't cut 3rd round picks in their first camp unless they are absolute train wrecks. Davis still has some catching up to do before he will be a contributor, but he is far from a train wreck. Humpal had a chance before his injuries hampered him. Looks like PS for both of our 6th rounders.

    Tight end -- The Steelers have kept three tight ends in the past. Lee Vickers and Dezmond Sherrod could be battling for one spot unless Tomlin uses backup tackle Max Starks as the third tight end.

    They may just use Max as the 3rd TE for the first month or so until Boyd gets healthy.

    Offensive line -- If the Steelers keep 10 linemen, fourth-round pick Tony Hills likely will make the team. If not, they'll try to sneak him through to the practice squad.

    Although Hills has looked lost at times, you don't want to expose a 4th round pick at one of your weakest positions, particular one where 3 out of the 4 guys have expiring contracts, to the waiver wire, hoping he will pass through so you can put him on the PS. I've also heard whispers of comparisons to John Jackson in terms of his athletic ability...and Jackson struggled mightily in his first camp before eventually rounding off into a solid LT for many years.

    Punter -- Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster were brought in to replace injured starter Daniel Sepulveda. They will split the punting duties against Carolina. Ernster performed the punting duties in the first and third preseason games, Berger in the second. Ernster averaged 48 yards per punt last week against Minnesota.

    I go Ernster because he has the younger, stronger leg and could help out on kickoffs as well. If he turns out to be inconsistent when the regular season rolls around, you can always change a punter on the fly if a better option becomes available.

  3. #3
    Legend fordfixer's Avatar
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    Re: Tonight last chance for some Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher
    Quote Originally Posted by fordfixer
    Tomlin said Reid and Eddie Drummond will split the punt- and kick-return duties against the Panthers.

    I'm glad they are finally giving Reid a shot at returns now that he finally seems to be healthy after a couple of injury plagued years. I think Moore and Mendenhall will be the primary punt and kick returners, respectively. I don't want Santonio risking injury on a return, and I don't want to keep a guy like Drummond who is only a marginal return talent at this point that does not contibute at any other position.

    Safety -- Veteran Tyrone Carter and rookie Ryan Mundy are battling for one spot. Mundy, who has been out since Aug. 8 with a high ankle sprain, did not play in the past two preseason games and will not play tonight.

    If Mundy was healthy, I think he would have won this job. But you can't make the club from the tub. That fact that he won't play in the final game, plus the fact that Carter played pretty well against his former mates in Minny in Troy's stead means that we have another year of Tyrone with Mundy getting a redshirt year on the PS.

    Cornerback -- Special teams standout Anthony Madison and undrafted rookie Roy Lewis are vying for one spot. Madison is a special-teams demon while Lewis, who played at the University of Washington, has been impressive in his first camp.

    Lewis has the flexibility to fill in at corner or safety. That gives him the edge here.

    Defensive end -- The Steelers brought in Orpheus Roye to push Ryan McBean, last year's fourth-round pick.

    Although Tomlin wanted to get younger in the trenches, bring in Roye actually made them older. But in a limited role to keep the starters fresh, the old fella fits better than McBean, who looked overmatched at times in spite of physical tools that still make you want to see what this guy might have in store in the future. Another year on the PS for McBean, I think.

    Linebacker -- Third-round pick Bruce Davis, sixth-round pick Mike Humpal and veteran Andre Frazier could be fighting for one spot.

    It's Davis. You don't cut 3rd round picks in their first camp unless they are absolute train wrecks. Davis still has some catching up to do before he will be a contributor, but he is far from a train wreck. Humpal had a chance before his injuries hampered him. Looks like PS for both of our 6th rounders.

    Tight end -- The Steelers have kept three tight ends in the past. Lee Vickers and Dezmond Sherrod could be battling for one spot unless Tomlin uses backup tackle Max Starks as the third tight end.

    They may just use Max as the 3rd TE for the first month or so until Boyd gets healthy.

    Offensive line -- If the Steelers keep 10 linemen, fourth-round pick Tony Hills likely will make the team. If not, they'll try to sneak him through to the practice squad.

    Although Hills has looked lost at times, you don't want to expose a 4th round pick at one of your weakest positions, particular one where 3 out of the 4 guys have expiring contracts, to the waiver wire, hoping he will pass through so you can put him on the PS. I've also heard whispers of comparisons to John Jackson in terms of his athletic ability...and Jackson struggled mightily in his first camp before eventually rounding off into a solid LT for many years.

    Punter -- Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster were brought in to replace injured starter Daniel Sepulveda. They will split the punting duties against Carolina. Ernster performed the punting duties in the first and third preseason games, Berger in the second. Ernster averaged 48 yards per punt last week against Minnesota.

    I go Ernster because he has the younger, stronger leg and could help out on kickoffs as well. If he turns out to be inconsistent when the regular season rolls around, you can always change a punter on the fly if a better option becomes available.
    Nice

    Molon labe

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  4. #4
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    Re: Tonight last chance for some Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher
    Quote Originally Posted by fordfixer
    Tomlin said Reid and Eddie Drummond will split the punt- and kick-return duties against the Panthers.

    I'm glad they are finally giving Reid a shot at returns now that he finally seems to be healthy after a couple of injury plagued years. I think Moore and Mendenhall will be the primary punt and kick returners, respectively. I don't want Santonio risking injury on a return, and I don't want to keep a guy like Drummond who is only a marginal return talent at this point that does not contibute at any other position.

    Safety -- Veteran Tyrone Carter and rookie Ryan Mundy are battling for one spot. Mundy, who has been out since Aug. 8 with a high ankle sprain, did not play in the past two preseason games and will not play tonight.

    If Mundy was healthy, I think he would have won this job. But you can't make the club from the tub. That fact that he won't play in the final game, plus the fact that Carter played pretty well against his former mates in Minny in Troy's stead means that we have another year of Tyrone with Mundy getting a redshirt year on the PS.

    Cornerback -- Special teams standout Anthony Madison and undrafted rookie Roy Lewis are vying for one spot. Madison is a special-teams demon while Lewis, who played at the University of Washington, has been impressive in his first camp.

    Lewis has the flexibility to fill in at corner or safety. That gives him the edge here.

    Defensive end -- The Steelers brought in Orpheus Roye to push Ryan McBean, last year's fourth-round pick.

    Although Tomlin wanted to get younger in the trenches, bring in Roye actually made them older. But in a limited role to keep the starters fresh, the old fella fits better than McBean, who looked overmatched at times in spite of physical tools that still make you want to see what this guy might have in store in the future. Another year on the PS for McBean, I think.

    Linebacker -- Third-round pick Bruce Davis, sixth-round pick Mike Humpal and veteran Andre Frazier could be fighting for one spot.

    It's Davis. You don't cut 3rd round picks in their first camp unless they are absolute train wrecks. Davis still has some catching up to do before he will be a contributor, but he is far from a train wreck. Humpal had a chance before his injuries hampered him. Looks like PS for both of our 6th rounders.

    Tight end -- The Steelers have kept three tight ends in the past. Lee Vickers and Dezmond Sherrod could be battling for one spot unless Tomlin uses backup tackle Max Starks as the third tight end.

    They may just use Max as the 3rd TE for the first month or so until Boyd gets healthy.

    Offensive line -- If the Steelers keep 10 linemen, fourth-round pick Tony Hills likely will make the team. If not, they'll try to sneak him through to the practice squad.

    Although Hills has looked lost at times, you don't want to expose a 4th round pick at one of your weakest positions, particular one where 3 out of the 4 guys have expiring contracts, to the waiver wire, hoping he will pass through so you can put him on the PS. I've also heard whispers of comparisons to John Jackson in terms of his athletic ability...and Jackson struggled mightily in his first camp before eventually rounding off into a solid LT for many years.

    Punter -- Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster were brought in to replace injured starter Daniel Sepulveda. They will split the punting duties against Carolina. Ernster performed the punting duties in the first and third preseason games, Berger in the second. Ernster averaged 48 yards per punt last week against Minnesota.

    I go Ernster because he has the younger, stronger leg and could help out on kickoffs as well. If he turns out to be inconsistent when the regular season rolls around, you can always change a punter on the fly if a better option becomes available.

    Excellent. I agree 100%.

    I also think Starks holds the gap at TE until Boyd is ready.

    I also can't see Davis being cut. Don't forget he started behind everyone because he could not participate in OTAs.

    Hills has shown too many flashes of potential to risk on the PS.

    I really feel bad about Humpal and Mundy having injuries because I think both would have been on the final 53.
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    Administrator steelz09's Avatar
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    Re: Tonight last chance for some Steelers

    No way should Tony Hills end up on the PS

    LT is a huge jump from the college ranks to the pro's and very rarely do you even see top tier talent have success at the LT position in their first year. (i.e. Joe Thomas)

    Some may think I'm crazy, but I see Tony Hills as our starting LT next year.

    I really wanted to see Hills in place of Starks against Minnesota last week at LT. I really thought Hills played very well against Buffalo even though it was probably their 3rd string. He should some natural ability to play the LT position. He held up well against the bull rush, and didn't allow the speed rushes to beat him around the edge (instead he push them upfield... kind of how Timmons used to run himself out of the play last year on blitzes)

    This is the line that I'm hoping for:

    LT: Tony Hills
    LG: Kemo
    C: Hartwig / Stapleton / Rookie
    RG: Colon
    RT: Rookie

    Colon is not made to be a RT in this league. I like Colon, and I feel that he's starter quality, but he should be starting in place of Simmons at RG. You want your 2 "Nasty's" at the guard position, and Colon and Kemo are the guys. They should be starting at guard.

    Hopefully, we can draft a solid tackle in round 1 this year and can start immediately at the RT position.

  6. #6
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    Re: Tonight last chance for some Steelers

    Colon is not made to be a RT in this league. I like Colon, and I feel that he's starter quality, but he should be starting in place of Simmons at RG. You want your 2 "Nasty's" at the guard position, and Colon and Kemo are the guys. They should be starting at guard.
    I couldn't agree more. I'd be starting Colon at RG right now and Starks at RT. Simmons is just getting overwhelmed. I once thought that once he learned to deal with his health issue he would be solid again, but that has not proven the case.

    Colon cannot handle good edge pass rushers. That was clear against both Buffalo and Minnesota.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Tonight last chance for some Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher
    Quote Originally Posted by fordfixer
    Tomlin said Reid and Eddie Drummond will split the punt- and kick-return duties against the Panthers.

    I'm glad they are finally giving Reid a shot at returns now that he finally seems to be healthy after a couple of injury plagued years. I think Moore and Mendenhall will be the primary punt and kick returners, respectively. I don't want Santonio risking injury on a return, and I don't want to keep a guy like Drummond who is only a marginal return talent at this point that does not contibute at any other position.

    Safety -- Veteran Tyrone Carter and rookie Ryan Mundy are battling for one spot. Mundy, who has been out since Aug. 8 with a high ankle sprain, did not play in the past two preseason games and will not play tonight.

    If Mundy was healthy, I think he would have won this job. But you can't make the club from the tub. That fact that he won't play in the final game, plus the fact that Carter played pretty well against his former mates in Minny in Troy's stead means that we have another year of Tyrone with Mundy getting a redshirt year on the PS.

    Cornerback -- Special teams standout Anthony Madison and undrafted rookie Roy Lewis are vying for one spot. Madison is a special-teams demon while Lewis, who played at the University of Washington, has been impressive in his first camp.

    Lewis has the flexibility to fill in at corner or safety. That gives him the edge here.

    Defensive end -- The Steelers brought in Orpheus Roye to push Ryan McBean, last year's fourth-round pick.

    Although Tomlin wanted to get younger in the trenches, bring in Roye actually made them older. But in a limited role to keep the starters fresh, the old fella fits better than McBean, who looked overmatched at times in spite of physical tools that still make you want to see what this guy might have in store in the future. Another year on the PS for McBean, I think.

    Linebacker -- Third-round pick Bruce Davis, sixth-round pick Mike Humpal and veteran Andre Frazier could be fighting for one spot.

    It's Davis. You don't cut 3rd round picks in their first camp unless they are absolute train wrecks. Davis still has some catching up to do before he will be a contributor, but he is far from a train wreck. Humpal had a chance before his injuries hampered him. Looks like PS for both of our 6th rounders.

    Tight end -- The Steelers have kept three tight ends in the past. Lee Vickers and Dezmond Sherrod could be battling for one spot unless Tomlin uses backup tackle Max Starks as the third tight end.

    They may just use Max as the 3rd TE for the first month or so until Boyd gets healthy.

    Offensive line -- If the Steelers keep 10 linemen, fourth-round pick Tony Hills likely will make the team. If not, they'll try to sneak him through to the practice squad.

    Although Hills has looked lost at times, you don't want to expose a 4th round pick at one of your weakest positions, particular one where 3 out of the 4 guys have expiring contracts, to the waiver wire, hoping he will pass through so you can put him on the PS. I've also heard whispers of comparisons to John Jackson in terms of his athletic ability...and Jackson struggled mightily in his first camp before eventually rounding off into a solid LT for many years.

    Punter -- Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster were brought in to replace injured starter Daniel Sepulveda. They will split the punting duties against Carolina. Ernster performed the punting duties in the first and third preseason games, Berger in the second. Ernster averaged 48 yards per punt last week against Minnesota.

    I go Ernster because he has the younger, stronger leg and could help out on kickoffs as well. If he turns out to be inconsistent when the regular season rolls around, you can always change a punter on the fly if a better option becomes available.
    Nice analysis ... I agree with everything except maybe Lewis. I think Madison's special teams play gives him the edge.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Tonight last chance for some Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by jhansle1
    No way should Tony Hills end up on the PS

    LT is a huge jump from the college ranks to the pro's and very rarely do you even see top tier talent have success at the LT position in their first year. (i.e. Joe Thomas)

    Some may think I'm crazy, but I see Tony Hills as our starting LT next year.

    I really wanted to see Hills in place of Starks against Minnesota last week at LT. I really thought Hills played very well against Buffalo even though it was probably their 3rd string. He should some natural ability to play the LT position. He held up well against the bull rush, and didn't allow the speed rushes to beat him around the edge (instead he push them upfield... kind of how Timmons used to run himself out of the play last year on blitzes)

    This is the line that I'm hoping for:

    LT: Tony Hills
    LG: Kemo
    C: Hartwig / Stapleton / Rookie
    RG: Colon
    RT: Rookie

    Colon is not made to be a RT in this league. I like Colon, and I feel that he's starter quality, but he should be starting in place of Simmons at RG. You want your 2 "Nasty's" at the guard position, and Colon and Kemo are the guys. They should be starting at guard.

    Hopefully, we can draft a solid tackle in round 1 this year and can start immediately at the RT position.
    Yessir!!!

    I have been saying all along that Hills is being groomed to be the next LT. As long as he stays healthy, he will be the starting LT in 2009. No question about it.

    I don't know if the Steelers keep Marvel, but I would try so long as the deal is club friendly. Quite frankly, he could play out his career as a Steeler at RT and not have to deal with the strong side and give the team an extra year or two at that spot.

    I like the long term projection of Colon at G as well. He did not look good at RT in the Buffalo game. But, with Colon at RG and Kemo at LG, the Steelers would have something good with their G pairing.

    And Hartwig at C is satisfactory to me. He definitely deals with the shotgun better and has better footwork. He also doesn't get driven backwards like a rental car on passing downs. He shows some fortitude against the charge up the middle.

    And yes, the Steelers must be in the market for interior line with both of their first two picks next season. You can take your pick as to which way the selections go, but both lines have been ignored for far too long on the front end of the draft.
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