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Thread: Pittsburgh's O-line fallback plan

  1. #1
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    Pittsburgh's O-line fallback plan

    Dominant offensive line play hasn't exactly been a hallmark of the Pittsburgh Steelers' performance over the past several years, and QB Ben Roethlisberger is celebrated as much for his ability to create plays when he's hassled in the pocket as he is for plays when everything runs smoothly.

    As the 2013 season looms, the Steelers are poised to push forward with two young players at the bookend spots on the O-line in Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert.

    But what happens if one of them is injured or proves inept?

    There's always the chance that the team could add at the position -- players like Eric Winston, Winston Justice and Jammal Brown are out there -- but if not, things could get a little dicey for them, as ESPN AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley explains:

    hensley_jamison_30.jpg Jamison Hensley

    The Steelers will see one of their bigger fears play out if right tackle Mike Adams isn't ready to start training camp after getting stabbed twice in an attempted carjacking. Each of Pittsburgh's backup plans at tackle carry a great deal of concern.

    The Steelers can go with Guy Whimper, a free agent from the Jacksonville Jaguars who led the NFL in sacks allowed in 2011 with 14, and gave up four sacks in six starts last season. The other option is Kelvin Beachum, who started the last five games at right tackle for the Steelers last season.

    Moving Beachum to right tackle would hurt the interior of the line. Beachum has been working this offseason on becoming the top backup at guard and center after Willie Colon was released and Doug Legursky wasn't re-signed. In other words, Pittsburgh can't afford for Adams or left tackle Marcus Gilbert to get hurt.

    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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    Am I the only one who has nightmares with that fallback plan?

    my car's out back

    if you're ready to take that long walk

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelSpain View Post
    Am I the only one who has nightmares with that fallback plan?
    Well when I heard "fallback" I flashed to Gilbert again serving as a one man oline wrecking crew.

  4. #4

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    The Fellowship Of The Ring: Will Steelers Training Camp Result In Eight Offensive Lineman?

    Jul 2nd, 2013 by Craig Gottschalk

    One of the Steelers’ biggest concerns, as it is every season, will be the offensive line.

    Overall performance from these players will be put to test during training camp in hopes that the perfect combination can be found. Unfortunately for the Steelers, longevity and sustainability during a long and grueling season is right at the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes to thinking about the State of the OL. They are young, they are fast learners, but they carry with them the curse of the injury bug on a weekly basis. So, one of the biggest questions that I think needs to be answered going into and coming out of training camp is, ‘How many linemen will the Steelers keep and dress from week to week?’

    Frodo Baggins needed eight fellow adventurers, who formed The Fellowship, to protect him in his quest. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may need just as many to ensure his own protection in order to obtain a ring of his own. Mike Tomlin was infamous for only dressing the minimum amount of linemen week in and week out. It was a gamble then, and will continue to be so as long as the Steelers continue to rely on their franchise QB to drive the bus to each Super Bowl city. But, with the emerging young talent that fans witnessed last season, will the Steelers be forced to keep and dress more than they are accustomed to?

    The starting five are as follows (LT to RT):

    Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Mike Adams

    That leaves the following linemen to duke it out during camp:

    Kelvin Beachum
    John Malecki
    Guy Whimper
    Joe Long
    Mike Golic, Jr. (R)
    Nik Embernate (R)

    Based on his play last season and versatility, Kelvin Beachum should be a favorite to find himself a spot on the 53 man roster. The rumor coming out of the Steeler coaching office is that the team is grooming Beachum to learn how to play center and backup Pouncey. Great, so the Steelers have a Jack of all trades (master at none) in Beach. The team will need a seventh option, and that’s where things get interesting. John Malecki is also a versatile backup. The Murraysville native will be listed as DeCastro’s backup at right guard, but Malecki can move to the left side as well. Malecki is a bit of a wild card for the Steelers this year because he is no longer eligible for practice squad time. NFL rules state that a player can spend only three seasons on a practice squad. Don’t make the 53 man roster after that third year, and a player gets tossed to make room from a younger player. Hard to swallow when Malecki is only 25 himself.

    Malecki’s chances are strong considering he’s played a few games since November for the team. His competition lies in Whimper, a second year, and three other rookies. However, I don’t think the roster positions end there with seven. I think it’s very possible an eighth and final lineman will be placed on the 53 man roster before training camp is over. It makes sense just simply because the team has been ‘this close’ to having a backup tight end or full back fill in for the injured O-line. Tomlin can’t keep rolling the dice week in and week out and expect to not get burned at some point. They’ve been very fortunate (if you want to call it that) thus far. So, the battle really doesn’t lie in Malecki vs Veteran+Rookies. The battle lies in Whimper vs. The Young’ins.

    I can see Whimper getting tossed at the end of camp for a more favorable young lineman. I think he’ll serve his purpose as the veteran who will help motivate and push the rookies and Long. It’s a win win in this kind of situation for the Steelers. Long, Embernate, and Golic, Jr. are all around the same size – 6’3″-6’4″ and a shy over 300 lbs. They all ‘fit’ the model of the zone blocking scheme that Jack Bicknell, Jr. and Tomlin want in place. If one of them is good enough to make the squad, then the other two can be placed on the practice squad for development and the chance to make the roster were a lineman to be placed on IR. Besides, if this really is The Fellowship – then one of those lineman is bound to end up like Boromir…. minus all the arrows sticking out of his body.

    So do you think the Steelers will complete ‘The Fellowship’ and sign on an eighth lineman, or will Tomlin continue to use seven lineman and try to fill out other positional spots?


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    Pittsburgh Training Camp Battles: The Offensive Tackles

    By Kyle Curry on July 3, 2013

    During the 2012 season the Pittsburgh Steelers only had two offensive lineman play in all 16 games and only one who played all 16 games at the same position. That one stalwart was left tackle Max Starks, who is now a member of the San Diego Chargers.

    Prior to the 2013 draft the Steelers had drafted an offensive tackle in the second round two years in a row. Those players are Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert and their play and potential is the reason the Steelers allowed Starks to walk in free agency.

    With Starks now gone the left tackle position is up for grabs. Adams and Gilbert will compete for that position during training camp, but Gilbert seems to have the earlier advantage. Whoever loses out on the left tackle spot is expected to start at right tackle so the consolation prize is still very good.

    Last season, as a rookie, Adams filled in for an injured Gilbert and played well at right tackle. The run game saw a noticed improvement during Adam’s starts and he is expected, at this time, to remain on the right side. However, if Gilbert struggles at left tackle the Steelers won’t, and shouldn’t, hesitate to move Adams to the left side.

    With Adams moving into the starting line-up in his second year the primary back-up spot on the depth chart is also up for grabs. The top three tackles on the roster with a shot at that position are Guy Whimper, who the Steelers signed for veteran depth this off-season, along with two undrafted rookies.

    The first undrafted rookie is Joe Long, who was undrafted in 2012 and joined the Steelers mid-season last year. Long is the younger brother of former-number one overall pick Jake Long. He stuck with the Steelers practice squad last year and now he will have a shot to make the active roster during training camp.

    The other undrafted rookie is Mike Golic Jr., son of Mike&Mike host Mike Golic. Golic Jr. played center and guard for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but he lacks elite size for the NFL and played at the tackle position during mini-camp for the Steelers. He may also get a shot to show what he can do at guard this off-season. Both positions are in need of depth, which gives Golic a shot at the roster and makes him, at the very least, a good candidate for the practice squad.

    During this off-season the Steelers lost two long-time offensive lineman in Willie Colon and Max Starks. They also lost long-time back-up center and guard Doug Legursky. With Mike Adams and Ramon Foster expected to join the starting line-up there are some back-up spots on the roster up for grabs and it will be interesting to see who wins those jobs.

    Even so, the biggest battle to watch on the offensive line during 2013 training camp will be to see who the 2013 left tackle is. That player will be protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blind-side, which is an important task considering Roethlisberger has only played all 16 games once during his NFL career.

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    Dominant offensive line play hasn't exactly been a hallmark of the Pittsburgh Steelers' performance over the past several years, and QB Ben Roethlisberger is celebrated as much for his ability to create plays when he's hassled in the pocket as he is for plays when everything runs smoothly.......
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  7. #7

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    Steelers O-line satisfied with performance, but has more work to do

    Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey block for Ben Roethlisberger against the Giants, Saturday, August 10, 2013 at Heinz Field.

    By Ralph N. Paulk
    Published: Sunday, August 11, 2013

    The Steelers offensive linemen were mostly pleased with their overall performance during the preseason opener against the Giants on Saturday night at Heinz Field.

    However, they conceded there's room for improvement, particularly with the newly installed zone-blocking scheme. They tossed out the numbers and focused primarily on how well they executed.

    Yet if numbers matter, the offensive front made inroads from a relatively inconsistent 8-8 season in 2012.

    The first-string line cleared the way for 81 of the Steelers' 94 rushing yards in the first half — including a game-high 40 on seven carries by LaRod Stephens-Howling. It allowed only one sack but couldn't capitalize on its only red-zone opportunity.

    “We had a lot of productive plays,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “It's an awesome start for us, and we just need to keep building throughout camp.”

    The offensive line will have more than a week to iron out the kinks before taking on the Redskins on “Monday Night Football” on Aug. 19 at FedEx Field. It'll evaluate the effectiveness of the zone blocking, particularly on short-yardage downs.

    “It's tough to evaluate, especially during training camp when you're not scouting an opponent,” guard David DeCastro said. “We ran the ball pretty well and had a couple of good zone-blocking runs.”

    The Steelers used the zone blocking nearly 10 times, most in their base offense. Stephens-Howling had much of his success between the tackles.

    The Steelers had 42 negative run plays last season. While Stephens-Howling had some space to run, the Steelers had six run plays stopped at the line of scrimmage — four for losses, including two on third-and-1, and two for no gain.

    “You don't want to have that many stalemates,” guard Ramon Foster said. “We will attack that issue in short yardage because the ability to move the ball on shortage-yardage plays defines an offensive line.

    “We did some good things and some bad things, too. We have to recognize what didn't go well. We have to critique ourselves real hard. I think the zone blocking worked effectively, but we still need to get on the same page.

    “There were some spurts of it being good,” Foster added. “The outside zone can be dangerous for a defense to stop if we block it well. There was a leak here or there that caused a stalemate or caused a linebacker to slip through. We are new to the run-blocking scheme, which is no excuse, but there are a few things we have to get better on.”

    For an offensive line trying to establish itself as one of the deepest in the NFL, the backups didn't distinguish themselves in the waning minutes with an opportunity to win. Quarterback John Parker Wilson was sacked twice before throwing a floater that missed its mark on third-and-20.

    Still, tackle Mike Adams is convinced the offensive line is ahead of where it was a year ago. He, too, believes offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. is building an offensive front that will help improve the run game.

    “I think we have a pretty good foundation,” Adams said. “I definitely think the zone blocking worked well. A lot of teams are doing it and doing it well. I think we will be one of those teams.”


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Lemming View Post
    Well when I heard "fallback" I flashed to Gilbert again serving as a one man oline wrecking crew.
    Ahem, that would be a 'fall on' plan.
    Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Lemming View Post
    Well when I heard "fallback" I flashed to Gilbert again serving as a one man oline wrecking crew.

  10. #10
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    Gilbert moving forward in the run game impressed many. When he backpedals in pass protection he ought to be wearing one of those back up beepers like on garbage trucks. He is too easily put off balance by the rusher. They ought never let him backpedal in pass protection. At least he is on Ben's right side so Ben can see it coming.

    Hoping that Adams holds up strong on Ben's blind side though.


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