View Full Version : Peppers presents challenge for Starks

12-15-2006, 04:26 AM
Peppers presents challenge for Starks

By Scott Brown
Friday, December 15, 2006

Max Starks, the Steelers' mammoth right tackle, has read to small children, counseled kids who have lost a parent and served Thanksgiving dinner to the needy, among other things this season.

He's one of the Steelers' most-giving players.

But Ben Roethlisberger, in particular, has to hope that Starks is anything but charitable against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Starks is charged with no less a task than keeping Julius Peppers' paws off the Steelers quarterback.

How the third-year tackle fares against the Panthers defensive end could go a long way toward determining who wins the game between two 6-7 teams.

Starks has watched his share of film on Peppers, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound defensive end who is athletic and about as enjoyable for offensive linemen as a salad.

On Thursday, Starks spouted off platitudes about the perennial Pro Bowler.

"He's speed-rush guy with long arms," Starks said of Peppers. "He's going to give you a lot more moves, a lot more hand swats and try to grab your outside shoulder and try to force you off balance."

That formula has Peppers, who leads the NFC with 11 sacks, on a path to Canton, Ohio. It's also why relatively few players have had success in impeding his path to the quarterback.

That doesn't bode well for an offensive line that's struggled at time this season.

Roethlisberger was sacked nine times three weeks ago in a 27-0 loss to the Ravens.

And Oakland's Derrick Burgess dominated the Steelers from his defensive end position Oct. 29. He was credited with two and a half sacks and two quarterback hurries in game in which Roethlisberger threw four interceptions.

Burgess had his way with Starks in the Raiders' 20-13 win, which means the Steelers have little choice but to give the 6-8, 337-pounder help with Peppers.

The Steelers will use an extra blocker on Peppers more often than not, and probably the best way to neutralize him is to stay out of obvious passing situations.

"He's not a great run defender," Starks said, "and that's one of the things, you have to tire him out with the run, and when we get into passing situations, not to give him so much freedom in long-yardage situations."

Added Roethlisberger: "We need to keep it third and short, and a lot of that will come with the running game on first and second down."

The Steelers churned out over 300 rushing yards last Thursday against the Browns, and Roethlisberger wasn't sacked in the 27-7 victory.

On Tuesday, during his weekly radio show on Fox Sports 970, Starks called out those who have been critical of the offensive line.

"I was like 'OK, I'm waiting for the critics to call. You guys have been calling for two weeks, so where are you guys now?' " Starks said.

He laughed as he recounted the airwaves challenge, which was more of a joke.

But he knows Peppers will be much harder to handle than carping fans.

"Julius Peppers may be as good a defensive football player as there is in the National Football League," Cowher said. "He's an extraordinary talent for a man of his size."


12-15-2006, 05:39 AM

12-15-2006, 06:52 AM
For anyone that has seen the movie "Facing the Giants"...maybe we can get our offensive line to ...

12-15-2006, 08:09 AM
i wasnt even thinkin about starks, this sucks. ben needs to get rid of the ball quickly so he doesnt get pounded.

12-15-2006, 06:30 PM
This matchup scares the crap out of me!!!! Peppers is too fast for Maxiburgher, and he will use that quickness to his advantage. If I am right, that means that the offense will have to use Miller to help out Starks, basically taking away (in my opinion) our second best receiver. Never know though, maybe Max gets the best of him, we'll see!!!