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Polamalu Thought It Was Important For Him To Be At OTAs

PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu tells Jim Colony of The Fan Morning Show that he feels good to be in Pittsburgh with the team.

He says he thought he needed to be here as one of the veterans remaining on defense.

Polamalu also shares some thoughts on the playoff loss in Denver, and what he thinks the new faces surrounding him on defense.

Click the link below to listen to the full interview:

Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Radio.com – Sports, Sports, Steelers Tagged: defense, OTA’s, Pittsburgh Steelers, Safety, The Fan Morning Show, Troy Polamalu

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

Talkin’ Cornerbacks: Steelers’ Starting Cornerback in 2012 Not As Important as Positional Depth


The Steelers depth at cornerback should be one of their strength in 2012, but it’s also one of its biggest question marks.

Such is the way of things for NFL cornerbacks. Every play, hero or goat. Riding that thin line between greatness and ridicule, it is, next to quarterback, the toughest mental position on the field. The Steelers will ride into training camp with one definite starter, CB Ike Taylor, and three younger players vying for the starting spot opposite Taylor – CBs Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown.

Who’s going to start?

This is a classic position of competition. Due to the mental rigors of it, all must be challenged intensely before any “winner” can be named. It would be unwise to name one now, but expect Lewis to emerge as the starting cornerback opposite Taylor after a tough competition from emerging stud Allen.

It’s almost necessary nowadays to name the nickel defensive back a starter as well, and Allen, due to his size and strength, will continue his growth as an outstanding slot defender, will hold down nickel duties.

Lewis (who turned 26 Thursday) and Allen both did well last season essentially as in-season replacements for CB Bryant McFadden, who went from starter to non-participator as 2011 went on. Both played nickel duties, Lewis on the outside when former Steelers CB William Gay shifted inside, and Allen inside in dime packages, most notably, against the high-powered Patriots offense in Week 8.

How much does the “starter” tag really matter?

I suppose it will for Lewis’s upcoming contract negotiations (he’ll play this season with a restricted free agency 1-year deal, and be unrestricted next year), but both he and Allen have the ability to play inside rather than outside. Lewis has the advantage of much more experience than Allen (29 games to 15, and Lewis was in on 404 snaps last year to 60 for Allen), so on one hand, it’s silly to etch either of their name in stone next to “CB2.” On the other, both should expect to see the field plenty often this year.

What about Brown?

Even with an increasingly impressive special teams resume, Brown just simply looks like the odd man out in a talented, young positional race. Certainly, we aren’t casting him out permanently, it’s only May, and it’s a very long season. That’s the nice part about depth at a position. Things can – and will – change.

At the very least, Brown looks like a top-end special teams gunner, and will continue to fill that kind of role in 2012.

Is this position locked up for the foreseeable future?

We’ve spent much time talking about the revamped offensive line, but before that, the priority investment seemed to be at cornerback. The genius part of the Steelers’ previous future plan at the position was they scored big on younger players who fit a mold; tall, long and athletic. While having to fit in a guy like McFadden for transitional purposes, the Steelers drafted Lewis out of Oregon State in the third round of the 2009 draft, and Brown (Texas) in the third round, and Allen (The Citadel) in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. Mix in a swing-and-a-miss with fifth-rounder Joe Burnett in 2009, the Steelers invested just as heavily in cornerback as they recently have in offensive line, just without the big-time dollar amount or height of picks. The amount of money they’ve saved in building quality depth as opposed to giving out massive contracts to free agents like Nnamdi Asomugha has been more than beneficial, and it’s something that will continue for the next few years.

Lewis could be the starter in 2012. Allen could be as well. With Lewis set to hit free agency, they have flexibility in the sense he’s not an absolute must-sign (at this point anyway).

Also, they all are really system guys; physical, big zone corners (with the ability to play man, just not a ton of tape to show potential free agent suitors) with athleticism. It’s the Steelers’ defense’s highest value position on the roster – most talent for the least amount of money.

They’re going to reap the benefits of their investment in 2012.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Important News During Down Time in the NFL


Normally not much happens now. We are less than a week away from the beginning of free agency and more than a month and a half removed from the draft. We content ourselves with speculation concerning attractive free agents, who might be available to us in the draft, we mourn the releases of old favorites and breathe a sigh of relief when we rid ourselves of those whom we view as liabilities. And that’s pretty much it. But some things are happening right now that will have repercussions into the regular season regardless of what happens on the player personnel front. At first blush the news might not seem to concern us too much, but look a little closer.

The Peyton Manning release. Why should Steeler Nation be concerned? We are certainly one of a relative handful of teams with a reliable franchise quarterback who has absolutely no interest in the Manning sweepstakes; though I am sure that there is someone out there prepared to argue that we should dump Ben for Peyton. If Manning lands with an AFC team, which I believe likely, then the balance of power in the conference will be affected. This will be especially true if he ends up in some place like Houston.

They’ll be losing sleep in Boston if he lands anywhere in the AFC East. And do you really want him in Denver? Pittsburgh has to play there this year, meaning among other things, that once again we will likely do so without the services of Ryan Clark.

In my own mind I admit to a bit of creeping complacency. The conference has been living on its reputation of late. We haven’t won a Super Bowl in the last three tries. ‘Strong’ teams like New England and Baltimore are sufficiently flawed as to not be frightening. The Texans and the Bengals were too inexperienced, the Jets were imploding. There was nothing to fear from the West Division, even if we did lose to their entry in the playoffs. And so we could be somewhat casual over whether we could afford to part ways with a Mike Wallace. It seemed like a good time to load up on young, unproven talent in the belief that little or no penalty would be paid for doing so.

However the Manning issue is resolved will probably raise the bar for the entire conference, and particularly for any teams who have serious aspirations for contending for a championship.

The Bounty Issue. There is so much significant and uncharted territory associated with this that I think that it may be hard to imagine the full impact until we have to live it. Suffice to say that the Saints franchise may be effectively crippled by it in both the short and long term.

Why it is relevant for Steeler Nation is two fold. First, and perhaps most positively, our defensive players will likely be relieved of their roles as poster children for mayhem in the NFL, at least for the near term. On the other hand, how all this combines with the other safety issues that we have been discussing lately on site is yet to be determined. The legitimate concerns expressed over the manner in which the league has approached this matter will be buried in the wake of an understandably severe response to the Saints. The methods and motives of defensive football may well be under trial everywhere as part of that response. And, of course, once a precedent has been set in terms of higher levels of punishment, it will be easier to visit that kind of treatment across the board. Watch out James!

Impact of the new CBA. The full effect of this will not be known until after the draft, but as maryrose pointed out earlier in the week it has already influenced how the Steelers are conducting business in this cycle. The important long term question will be whether the team can continue its stellar record of drafting and free agent decision making under the new rules. Just an important a short term concern is surviving the peculiar challenges brought on by the lockout and the uncapped year.

What is pretty amazing is that we know a lot about how this season may unfold before one free agent has been signed or one player drafted. Pretty interesting year already.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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On the Steelers: Short-handed team is limping in to important Monday night game

The Steelers have perhaps six or seven Pro Bowl candidates and they may play without five of them in a crucial game Monday night in San Francisco. The five and their problems: James Harrison (suspension), LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), Ben Roethlisberger (high ankle sprain), Maurkice Pouncey (high ankle sprain) and Troy Polamalu (hamstring).

Source: post-gazette.com – Steelers/NFL

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