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  1. #1
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    Pittsburgh Steelers - Team Report - Chicago Tribune Version

    NFL Team Report - Pittsburgh Steelers - INSIDE SLANT

    The Steelers reach a fork in the road for 2013; they can either take another dip from its disappointing 8-8 season or many of their questions can be answered and they can compete for a division title again.

    The Steelers were right in the thick of things until they lost to Cincinnati in the closing seconds of the 15th game of the season. Injuries took their toll. They lost some key veterans, such as linebacker James Harrison, wide receiver Mike Wallace and nose tackle Casey Hampton but believe they have found their replacements.

    Health and youth are the main issues. They need linebacker LaMarr Woodley and safety Troy Polamalu to play fulltime, and they desperately need a young line to come together quickly, stay healthy, and give quarterback Ben Roethlisberger some time to throw and room for their backs to run.

    They wanted to improve their ground game in 2012 under new coordinator Todd Haley - one reason Bruce Arians was fired after 2011. Instead, they took a dive. It's why they drafted Le'Veon Bell in the second round. They also have invested four draft picks on the offensive line in the first or second rounds since 2010 and all four will start.

    Their defense is old, but it has been No. 1 in the NFL the past two years in fewest yards allowed. Now they must find a way to make the big plays - sacks and turnovers, which they've been terrible at doing the past two years. Coordinator Dick LeBeau emphasized that part of the game throughout the spring.

    Strengths: Quarterback remains among the best in the league with Ben Roethlisberger. Secondary has been solid and will remain so with one new starter, cornerback Cortez Allen and three longtime veterans - corner Ike Taylor and safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark.

    Weaknesses: Defensive line and linebacker, two of the team strengths from the past, are in transition and could become a weakness. Offensive line is young and has little depth, but with high draft picks getting their chances.


    NFL Team Report - Pittsburgh Steelers - NOTES, QUOTES

    --A judge rejected a claim by the Steelers that the taxpayer-funded city-county Sports and Exhibition Authority must pay most of the estimated $30 million cost to add 3,000 seats to Heinz Field. The seats originally were supposed to be installed for the 2013 season; now even having them for 2014 is in doubt.

    --The Steelers announced they will wear their throwback jerseys - the 1934 "bumblebee" shirts they wore for two games last season - for one game this season, at home, but did not yet identify the game.

    --Steelers president Art Rooney would like to see Pittsburgh host an NFL draft.

    "Sure, I'd like to see the draft move around, and I would love to see it come to Pittsburgh some time," Rooney said. "It's a great event and attracts tremendous fan interest. It would be a fun event for Pittsburgh to host, and I think our city could do a great job with it."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's still learning, but he's learning at a quicker pace than most guys we drafted at that position as a defensive end." - LB coach Keith Butler on prized pupil, rookie Jarvis Jones.


    NFL Team Report - Pittsburgh Steelers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    Cause for concern: Tight end Heath Miller, voted by his teammates as the Steelers MVP in 2012, is still rehabbing from three torn knee ligaments, including his ACL. He may not be ready for the season and they do not have another tight end anywhere near his ability.

    Position battles: Jarvis Jones vs. Jason Worilds at right outside linebacker. If Jones can pick up the defense fast enough, he could unseat James Harrison's heir apparent and a four-year vet who has never won a starting job.

    Plaxico Burress vs. Jericho Cotchery for No. 3 wide receiver. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders will start and there's room for one of the two veterans.



    UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

    --QB Charlie Batch (not tendered as UFA).

    --NT Casey Hampton (not tendered as UFA).

    --LB Brandon Johnson (not tendered as UFA).

    --P Jeremy Kapinos (not tendered as RFA).

    --QB Byron Leftwich (not tendered as UFA).

    --TE Leonard Pope (not tendered as UFA).



    --CB DeMarcus Van Dyke was claimed off waivers from Oakland before the season began and they believe he has enough talent to keep.

    DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED (all picks signed).

    --LB Jarvis Jones (1/17): $8,705,502 all guaranteed/4 yrs, $4,711,272 SB.

    --RB Le'Veon Bell (2/4: $4,120,600/4 yrs, $1,376,800 SB/$97,300 RB 2014.

    --WR Markus Wheaton (3/79): $2,811,376/4 yrs, $591,376 SB.

    --S Shamarko Thomas (4/111): $2,613,152/4 yrs, $453,152 SB.

    --QB Landry Jones (4/115): $2,599,220/4 yrs, $439,220 SB.

    --CB Terry Hawthorne (5/150): $2,350,052/4 yrs, $190,052 SB.

    --WR Justin Brown (6/186): $2,264,072/4 yrs, (104,072 SB.

    --RB Vince Williams (6/206): $2,238,680/4 yrs, $78,680 SB.

    --DE Nick Williams (7/223): $2,217,848/4 yrs, $57,848 SB.


    --RB Baron Batch: ERFA; terms unknown.

    --WR Plaxico Burress: Potential UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

    --RB Jonathan Dwyer: Potential RFA; $1.323M/1 yr.

    --LB Larry Foote: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

    --G Ramon Foster: Potential UFA; $6M/3 yrs.

    --TE David Johnson: UFA Steelers; 1 yr, terms unknown.

    --CB Justin King: Potential UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

    --NT Steve McLendon: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation); $7.25M/3 yrs, $1.67M SB.

    --RB Isaac Redman: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation); $1.323M/1 yr.

    --WR Emmanuel Sanders: RFA tendered at 1.323M with third-round pick as compensation); matched Patriots offer $2.5M/1 yr.

    --LB Stevenson Sylvester: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

    --LS Greg Warren: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.


    --CB William Gay: FA Cardinals; $4.5M/3 yrs, $500,000 SB.

    --QB Bruce Gradkowski: UFA Bengals; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

    --P Brian Moorman: UFA Cowboys; terms unknown.

    --QB John Parker Wilson (waivers Jaguars).

    --TE Matt Spaeth: FA Bears; $2M/2 yrs, $250,000 SB.

    --RB LaRod Stephens-Howling: UFA Cardinals; terms unknown.

    --OT Guy Whimper: FA Jaguars; terms unknown.


    --S Will Allen: UFA Cowboys; $905,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.

    --G Willie Colon (released/post-June 1 designation).

    --LB James Harrison (released).

    --C/G Doug Legursky: Not tendered as UFA/Bills; terms unknown.

    --CB Keenan Lewis: UFA Saints; $26M/5 yrs, $6M SB/$11M guaranteed.

    --RB Rashard Mendenhall: UFA Cardinals; $2.5M/1 yr.

    --S Ryan Mundy: UFA Giants; terms unknown.

    --RB Chris Rainey (released).

    --T Max Starks: UFA Chargers; terms unknown.

    --WR Mike Wallace: UFA Dolphins; $60M/5 yrs, $11M SB/$30M guaranteed/$27M fully guaranteed.

    2017 Mock

    1. T.J Watt, OLB/DE, Wisconsin - will be a huge mistake if available and we pass

    2. Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

    3. Josh Jones, S, N.C. State

    3. Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland

    4. Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic

    5. Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M

    6. Barry Sanders, RB, Oklahoma State (How can you go wrong with that name, however the sample size is so small that his dad may be better even in his 50's)

    7. Alec Torgersen, QB, Pennsylvania

  2. #2
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    Nice article. Sounds about right.
    Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go...
    Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go...
    Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go...!!!

  3. #3
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    This was well written and spot on. Thanks for posting.

  4. #4

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    They lost me at bumble bee jerseys.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn View Post
    They lost me at bumble bee jerseys.
    I know I'm odd, but I kinda like em. They have a really old school look to them that feels historic. A little weird? Sure, but there's something about those jerseys.

  6. #6

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    I like the throwback uniforms as well. They are old school and at least they have block numbers.

  7. #7
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    i like the bumble bee's as well.

  8. #8
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    The bumble bee uni's would be better if they went with black pants.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar View Post
    The bumble bee uni's would be better if they went with black pants.
    I agree, it's those putrid looking pants that make the whole outfit look hideous.
    Last edited by hawaiiansteel; 06-28-2013 at 08:58 PM.

  10. #10
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    When worrying about replacing former starters after a disappointing season, we only can really look at the 2012 version of those players to evaluate their loss on an 8-8 team. In losing Casey are we losing a 5 time pro-bowler, former starter, and once dominant anchor to our D? Yes. Is that the 2012 guy from our 8-8 team who we need to replace? Not even close. McClendon - or Fangupo, or Ta'Amu - only has to replace the older, slower, less-effective Big Snack that we saw last season. Considering how many people were complaining that Stevie M looked better last season and should have surpassed Casey as the starter, that should not be an issue.

    IMO the only players worth talking about here are Wallace, Lewis, Deebo, and Starks - and possibly Heath.

    Wallace was rarely in sync with the offense for most of the season. He accounted for 836 receiving yards and while his official "drop" number was not that bad, his "didn't go all out so he never got his hands on the ball" number was much higher. There are two factors that we will miss from Wallace. One is his speed and ability to take the top off the D, and the other is his knack for finding the end zone. He scored 8 times last season, and 32 in his four years in black and gold. While they can't replace the speed factor, both Brown and Sanders had down years last year, so their potential to pick up most of the slack, along with Wheaton. All in all, replacing Wallace 2012 - along with his attitude and laziness - should be very doable by what is already in-house.

    Lewis is another story. Lewis 2012 is the very best we have ever seen from Keenan Lewis. I believe that he can be replaced quite well by Cortez Allen, however the more difficult job will be replacing the ball-hawk Allen in the nickel. IMO Allen is set to step up big. He has all of the physical tools of a young Ike Taylor but with hands. I have always said that Taylor is a pair of hands away from being on the level of a Champ Bailey etc., and believe that Allen has that potential. If Gay, Hawthorne, DVD, or even Shamarko can step in on the nickel then I can see the Lewis loss being minimal.

    Deebo was one of the greats, but again, Deebo 2012 was nothing special. He missed a few games, and then came back lame. It wasn't until the last 6 games or so that we saw someone wearing #92 who even somewhat resembled James Harrison. Replacing the guy we saw at the end of the year (although still not as good as James in his prime) is a task, but replacing 6/16 of that player not so much. His full body of work last season was not that impressive, and I do believe that the combination of Jones and Worilds, along with the improvement we are expecting in Woodley on the other side, will more than make up for the 16 game loss of JH.

    Finally we have the one loss that I can't really get a handle on. I have always been a big backer of Starks, going back to the trib days, through the job loss to Colon, for many years. We also have to count on two unknowns in replacing him - both Gilbert and Adams. Both of them must produce, and one of them is coming off of stab wounds to the belly. Gilbert was strong at RT his rookie year and then has fallen off with injuries to himself and those around him. Can he get back to his rookie form? Adams was in tough early, then showed much better, then hurt himself. Will he be able to heal, get into shape, and improve? That might be asking a lot for someone who was so recently lying in a hospital bed. To me this is the toughest loss to call. I would hate even more to be in a position where either Whimper or Beachum is a starter for more than a game or two.

    Heath's recovery is also huge. He had a breakout season last year (funny to say about a 30 year old guy who had been solid up until this point in his career) and his contributions will now be heaped onto the combo of Paulson and Spaeth. Unless those two can get onto the field at the same time and only count as one player, we will see a downgrade at TE. Hopefully they can carry the torch if needed short term, but I would have little faith in them filling in as starters for the bulk of the season.


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