View Full Version : Prisuta: Center of attention

11-04-2006, 09:20 AM
Prisuta: Center of attention
By Mike Prisuta
Saturday, November 4, 2006

After becoming a fixture on MySpace.com, Chukky Okobi is moving into Jeff Hartings' place.
Okobi will start at center for Hartings (knee) on Sunday against Denver, something Okobi hasn't done since the 2002 season.

Much has happened since then. The Steelers have won a Super Bowl, and Okobi has created the MySpace.com alter-ego "Chuk Wun" (The Center of Attention -- A True RAP-lete).

The challenge remains the same.

"I don't want to disappoint any of my teammates, any of the fans or any of my coaches," Okobi said. "I have to do my job. That's what I'm here for."

It's a job Okobi hasn't been called upon to do often since joining the Steelers as a fifth-round draft pick out of Purdue in 2001.

"I'm just glad to be able to contribute," he said. "I've been here for six years. (Head) coach (Bill) Cowher, (offensive line coach) Russ (Grimm), (director of football operations) Kevin (Colbert), they've believed in me to this point.

"I don't want to let anybody down."

The Denver game will be Okobi's 70th regular-season affair in the NFL and his sixth start.

The Steelers went 4-1 with Okobi starting while Hartings battled a knee injury in 2002.

They also won at Indianapolis when Okobi replaced Hartings in the third quarter the week before Okobi's first NFL start.

Amos Zereoue rushed for 100 yards in Okobi's second start, and the Steelers amassed more than 200 yards rushing in his fourth start. So, it's not as if the wheels have fallen off when Hartings hasn't been available.

Hartings doesn't expect the Steelers to fall apart this time, either.

"I've always said, I think he's a very capable backup," Hartings said. "I look forward to seeing what he'll be able to do.

"It's a good opportunity for him to show the Steelers what he can do."

Okobi replaced Hartings last Sunday in Oakland and was responsible for a pair of blocks on running back Willie Parker's 39-yard burst in the fourth quarter.

"Things like that, you don't think; you just react," Okobi said. "I was just running downfield, and anything that was in a different color, if it moved, I was hitting it."

Okobi also missed a tricky block on linebacker Robert Thomas, contributing to Parker getting stuffed for a 1-yard loss on first-and-goal from the Oakland 1. And it came on a series that ultimately failed with the Steelers poised to tie the game late.

"We just didn't get it done," Okobi said. "You have to give credit to the other team, but we, as a group, could have done a little better. We could have got into the end zone; we didn't.

"We gotta get it corrected."

Okobi said he had "no idea" how long his current starting assignment would last or "the exact diagnosis, as far as Jeff's injury."

Cowher has said only that Hartings was out this week.

The promotion is likely week-to-week for Okobi.

"As long as they need me, I'm here for them," he said. "They know my number here. All they have to do is dial it."

It's either that or log onto myspace.com/chukwun.

"That is me," Okobi said. "It is not somebody pretending to be me.

"Check it out."

Coming through

Here how the Steelers performed with Chukky Okobi starting at center in 2002:

Date Opponent Result
Oct. 27 Ravens Won, 31-18
Nov. 3 Browns Won, 23-20
Nov. 24 Bengals Won, 29-21
Dec. 1 Jaguars Won, 25-23
Dec. 8 Texans Lost, 24-6