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Thread: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

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    Legend hawaiiansteel's Avatar
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    Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    Stillers Blog

    August 13, 2010, 1:30 PM


    Thursday August 12th was the final practice before preseason game #1, DAY 13

    LaMarr Woodley, Hines Ward, Matt Spaeth, and Arnaz Battle sat out practice (an afternoon-only session), and LB Andre Frazier was officially put on injured reserve for the season. Frazier was replaced on the roster by LB Brandon Renkart, who has spent the past two seasons on three different NFL practice squads.

    Patrick Bailey continued to fill in as the first sub at OLB, this time for Woodley, and with the Frazier IR placement both Bailey and rookie "Sly" Sylvester increased their odds of making the team. The question likely becomes whether the team will keep 7 defensive linemen or 9 linebackers; with 8 locks at LB that would seem to be Harrison, Woodley, Farrior, Timmons, Foote, Fox, Worilds, and Gibson.

    The 53-man roster cut in early September could come down to taking one of the following: DE Sunny Harris, or Bailey, or Sylvester. Harris last year was plucked off the practice squad by Carolina, so the team may be hesitant to try him there again. Sunny also represents youth at a position where the Steelers could use some (in addition to Ziggy Hood, of course). Bailey is not squad eligible as he has been active for more than 9 games in a season, and he has been valuable playing extensively on special teams in his first two seasons. Sylvester, a star at the 'rover' position in college for Utah, was singled out earlier in the week by LB coach Keith Butler as flashing great talent.

    All of the above makes you wonder whether a few veterans could be in danger of losing a spot to make room for Harris, Bailey, and Sylvester. DE Nick Eason started 5 games for the team last year, and has played in 39 games for the team in three seasons. However, Eason had health problems this offseason and lost over 20 lbs in recovery. Is he up to par, and would the team consider him expendable? Battle also becomes a veteran being pushed for a spot with rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown making plays through camp. It is unlikely Sanders and Brown are cut, which puts the WR position at 5 locks. If Stefan Logan is kept as the return man, that makes 6. On offense, the decision may well be whether to cut Battle, who provides NFL experience for depth purposes, or cut Logan and trust the return game to the rookies (and Randle El).

    Mike Tomlin's press conference yesterday revealed few answers about his plans for QB playing time Saturday in preseason game #1. Tomlin did say his starters would play between 8-12 snaps, and no longer, with rookies to expect 30-35 snaps in the contest. But, the coach left open the possibility that Ben Roethlisberger would not play at all; and it's hard to believe Ben would play much in preseason games 2 or 3 (the games most important for regular season prep), either, given he is suspended for at least 4 regular season games. So will Ben just get heavy work in practice and in meaningless preseason game #4?

    On Thursday, the QB reps were split about evenly between Ben, Byron, and Dixon, with Charlie Batch not taking any team reps. Byron started two drills with the first team; Ben started one with the first team. All told through 13 days of camp practice, the QB reps stand at: Dixon 227, Ben 209, Dixon 202, and Batch 78 (+/- 2 reps margin of error).

    As for the rookies, Tomlin revealed first round pick Maurkice Pouncey will play both guard and center, while second round pick Worilds may not play at all due to the limited practice time he's had from injuries. Sanders is expected to return kicks, with Brown focusing on punts on Saturday. Chatting with special teams coach Al Everest yesterday, he said both rookie WRs will work at both KR and PR before the preseason is over.

    Follow Ken Laird on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ken_laird

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    Pro Bowler calmkiller's Avatar
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    Re: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    I see two problems with his post. One is he lists Dixon twice in the rep counts. Minor typo, not a real big deal. The second is his counting of the WRs on the roster that have a chance to make the team. The locks are: Ward, Wallace, Randle El and Sanders. Thats 4 spots where the most we have ever kept was 6. Battles, Brown and Logan are all fighting for 1 or two positions. They could potentally move Logan to RB, which is what he played in CFL. That would allow you to keep more WRs if you keep Logan as well, but at the cost of the RBs.
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    Draft 2.0

    1. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
    2. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
    3. Kareem Martin, DE, UNC
    4. Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi
    5a. Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
    5b. Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
    6a. Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College
    6b. Glen Stanley, OLB, Albany St
    7. Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin

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    Re: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by calmkiller
    I see two problems with his post. One is he lists Dixon twice in the rep counts. Minor typo, not a real big deal. The second is his counting of the WRs on the roster that have a chance to make the team. The locks are: Ward, Wallace, Randle El and Sanders. Thats 4 spots where the most we have ever kept was 6. Battles, Brown and Logan are all fighting for 1 or two positions. They could potentally move Logan to RB, which is what he played in CFL. That would allow you to keep more WRs if you keep Logan as well, but at the cost of the RBs.

    IMO Logan is a luxury they can't afford. Give Brown and Sanders some time to develop and they will be very good return men. Logan would never see the field as either a WR or RB unless an absolute disaster occurred. The guy is 29 years old. Keep the players you can build both the present and future with.

    I would take Sylvester over Bailey.

    No way would I consider Logan over Dwyer at RB. His development curve may be slower than people like but Dwyer is going to be a good #2 back. Logan will never be anything at RB.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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    Re: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    odd no mention of the RB situation. i hope they keep both dwyer and redman. summers should be cut. i like david johnson, he is a good blocker and can play FB. i love logan but i dont see how they keep him with both sanders and brown looking as good as they have so far. if logan could play RB it would be a different story. minus one punt return brown has looked good in the return game.

    i would be shocked if the steelers kept patrick bailey. the steelers have some good young talent on the team. its early but this past draft seems pretty damn good.

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    Re: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by frankthetank1
    odd no mention of the RB situation. i hope they keep both dwyer and redman. summers should be cut. i like david johnson, he is a good blocker and can play FB. i love logan but i dont see how they keep him with both sanders and brown looking as good as they have so far. if logan could play RB it would be a different story. minus one punt return brown has looked good in the return game.

    i would be shocked if the steelers kept patrick bailey. the steelers have some good young talent on the team. its early but this past draft seems pretty damn good.
    I agree we should keep Dwyer and Redman over Summers. Put Summers on the PS.

    I agree Brown has looked good in returns except for the rookie mistake on the 4 yard line. he won't do that again and was likely just pressing to make something happen.

    Sylvester over Bailey is a no brainer to me but I don't see as much as the coaches do. Sylvester will be grabbed by another team if we put him on waivers.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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    Legend hawaiiansteel's Avatar
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    Re: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    here is Ed Bouchette's projected 53-man roster -



    Good morning and welcome to the last day of August,

    I was there when someone asked Chuck Noll how difficult the final cuts would be. Noll answered that making the cuts would not be difficult, stopping would be.

    That wont be the case for Tomlin this season, although today will not be difficult. By Saturday he must reduce the roster to 53, although he will make many of those cuts on Friday.

    Here is how the 53-man roster could shape up:



    Quarterbacks (2) Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon

    Running backs (5) Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Isaac Redman, Frank Summers, Jonathan Dwyer

    Wide receivers (6) Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antwaan Randle El, Tyler Grisham, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown

    Tight ends (3) Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, David Johnson

    Offensive linemen (9) Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Maurkice Pouncey, Trai Essex, Flozell Adams, Doug Legursky, Jonathan Scott, Ramon Foster, Tony Hills

    Defensive linemen (6) Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Chris Hoke, Nick Eason

    Linebackers (9) James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote, Keyaron Fox, Jason Worilds, Thaddeus Gibson, Stevenson Sylvester

    Cornerbacks (6) Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, William Gay, Keenan Lewis, Crezdon Butler, Joe Burnett

    Safeties (4) Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Will Allen, Ryan Mundy

    Specialists (3) K Jeff Reed, P Daniel Sepulveda, LS Greg Warren



    Dont write that in stone because not only will we have debates here about that 53-man roster, the coaches and front office are debating it as well.

    The top surprise on my 53-man is wide receiver Tyler Grisham. This kid, an undrafted rookie last year from Clemson, makes every catch. He sticks out in practices and in games and made another outstanding catch against Denver. He was a three-year starter at Clemson. Hes listed as only 5-11, 180 but does not get pushed around in the secondary. Hes shown me more than Arnaz Battle.

    Another player Im still trying to find room for is cornerback Anthony Madison, as everyone knows a good special teams player. Madison is no pansy at corner either. It may come down to him vs. Joe Burnett but I just cant find it in myself to release Burnett.

    At defensive end, Im keeping veteran Nick Eason instead of Sunny Harris but that is a close call and the coaches may go the other way. Ive also seen some good things from nose tackle Scott Paxson but again I do not want to release Chris Hoke in his favor because Hoke still has it.

    There also is some sentiment to keep Kraig Urbik, who has concentrated on playing center all summer but also can play guard, which was his position as a rookie third-round draft choice. He was their second overall pick last year and has adapted to center well. It could come down to him vs. Ramon Foster. Tony Hills has had an excellent summer and is my backup at left tackle.

    Im keeping all the young linebackers but the coaches may well release one and put Patrick Bailey on the roster. Bailey remains one of their top special teams players and is a backup outside linebacker on a team in which the rookies just are not ready to play this year. They may try to sneak one of the rookies onto the practice squad and keep Bailey.

    As you can see, Charlie Batch is not on the team. If they release him, I think Arizona will try to sign him. Id have him on my team but I dont think theyre going to keep him and that may be a mistake. Batch showed Sunday night in Denver that he can still play this game. However, theyre not going to keep four quarterbacks when Ben Roethlisberger comes back (he will not count against their roster until his suspension is up) and they probably will roll the dice the first four games and go with two. The thinking will be that if one of the two gets hurt, they can re-sign Batch, but Arizona or some other team might foil that plan. Randle El could play the position in an emergency.

    They could pick up a roster spot by releasing Jonathan Dwyer and Im sure thats in their thoughts. Dwyer was a strong candidate to be released and put on the practice squad and that still is possible. His performance Sunday night might tempt someone to pick him up but remember, a team that claims him would have to put him on their 53-man roster. He also could pull a Sunny Harris and sign with another teams practice squad if he clears waivers.

    Yes, I cut Stefan Logan. Hes a luxury I cannot afford and I believe Antonio Brown will be a good return man. I know he fielded a punt at the two the other night, but it was a preseason game and punt returners get only so many chances to show their wares in a game. Mike Tomlin said he had no problem with the kid trying to make a play on that return for those reasons.

    Justin Hartwig does not make my team. Im trying to trade him right now but that $2 million salary might dissuade a trading partner, knowing I will release him.

    Finally, I keep Greg Warren as my long snapper even though the red flag went up when they signed a new long snapper last week, Matt Stewart. I did not think he snapped well enough Sunday night, firing one snap on a placekick to the shoulder of Daniel Sepulveda, who made a nice effort to bring it down and Jeff Reed made the kick.

    Thats my team. Well see what the Steelers think of it by Saturday.

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  7. #7

    Re: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    If they would give Logan 5 carries at RB, I think he would break one. They won't do it though, so the odds seem against him.

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    Re: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    too many young guys at WR if they keep grisham over battle.... see no reason why grish wouldn't make the practice squad again, nobody watching our camp drills

    logan over summers

    mchugh over johnson

    urbrik over dwyer

    that would be my 53

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    Pro Bowler Lebsteel's Avatar
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    Re: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    Urbik over Summers (what has Summers done to even have a chance???)
    Battle over Grisham

    I'd be very OK with just these two changes. I will scream if Summers makes the team. EVERY time I have taped a game and watched it to study him, he looks horrible. Urbik, on the other hand, has done very well when I have watched him. I love Grisham's hustle and toughness, but I think we need Battle for special teams, especially since we are not keeping Madison.

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    Legend hawaiiansteel's Avatar
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    Re: Ken Laird: Some Difficult Roster Decisions

    this really is a tough roster decision, if for no other reason than Batch is a class act who has always given back to the community.



    Batch fighting for spot on Steelers' 53-man roster

    By Mark Kaboly, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Wednesday, September 1, 2010



    Despite having the highest rating among the Steelers' four quarterbacks this preseason, veteran Charlie Batch may find himself off the team's final 53-man roster.
    Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review


    Ben Roethlisberger will be behind center once his suspension is over the Steelers know that much. They also know that either Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon will fill in for him during the interim.

    But who hasn't really figured into the quarterback derby just might be the guy who is the most qualified - Charlie Batch.

    Batch has shown that he has been able to shine when called on for spot starts, and he proved against Denver on Sunday that he isn't quite ready to be put out to pasture.

    "And he is really not getting that much opportunity," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "The opportunity he has gotten, he has taken full advantage of it. When Charlie gets out on the field, we know what to expect from Charlie."

    Batch was nearly flawless Sunday. He went 3 of 4 for 44 yards and a touchdown, with his lone blemish occurring when rookie Emmanuel Sanders ran the wrong route and Batch's subsequent interception was returned for a touchdown.

    Batch has the highest quarterback rating (95.1) among the four, but he has only 17 snaps in three preseason games.

    "I am always confident," Batch said. "I feel that if my number is called and if I have to step in and play, I will be willing to do that."

    What has been even more impressive with Batch that he has had only a fraction of the number of reps in training camp as the other three quarterbacks - a third fewer, to be exact - and not a single snap with the second team, let alone the first team.

    "I have always prepared as if I am a starter," Batch said. "You have to prepare that way. The only difference is the physical reps that you get throughout practice. Those things are out of my control. Regardless of how many practice reps you get, when your number is called you better be able to execute."

    Batch didn't know if he was going to play in Denver because he didn't play the week before against the Giants and took only six snaps in the opener against the Lions.

    "You don't get many reps, then all of a sudden your number is called and you better be ready to go," Batch said. "I am more prepared that way than the other guys because I have been doing it so long."

    Batch has shown that he can be counted on at a moment's notice.

    He led the Steelers to wins against Green Bay and Cleveland during their Super Bowl XL season. and an opening day victory a year later against Miami. Batch also passed for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns against Atlanta a few weeks later, when he replaced an injured Roethlisberger right before halftime.

    "If he is given that opportunity, I feel comfortable he can go out there and get the job done," Ward said

    Even so, Batch appears to be the odd man out of not only the derby to replace Roethlisberger, but perhaps a roster spot as well.

    The Steelers need to cut 22 players by the weekend, and keeping an injury-prone 35-year-old fourth quarterback on the roster at the expense of a youngster would be hard to fathom.

    "When you get our age, you understand the business," Ward said. "Charlie understands the business. He's a true professional.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 97356.html

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