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lamberts-lost-tooth
12-21-2006, 10:50 AM
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, December 21, 2006


Ben Roethlisberger was sacked a career-high nine times the last time the Steelers played the Baltimore Ravens, and he won't have one of his regular bodyguards for the rematch Sunday at Heinz Field.
But the third-year quarterback can at least take comfort in one thing: Max Starks' likely replacement at right tackle isn't intimidated easily.

Willie Colon grew up in the South Bronx. Just as he didn't back down in his old neighborhood -- or from linebacker Clark Haggans when the two engaged in fisticuffs during training camp -- he won't willingly concede anything to the veritable bullies that comprise the Ravens' defense.

"I'm going to go out there and fight like I've always fought for everything," said Colon, a rookie who has been on the inactive list for every game this season, "and we'll see what happens."

Colon and Trai Essex, his friend and part-time chauffeur, are competing for the starting spot that became open when Starks injured his left knee Sunday.

Essex said Colon received the bulk of the work with the first-team offense Wednesday and that "it looks like he is probably going to start, but you never know."

The close friends say they will pull for whoever steps in for Starks, who had arthroscopic knee surgery three days after playing his best game of the season.

The two are neighbors. Since Colon doesn't have a car, he is dependent on Essex for rides to and from the Steelers' South Side practice facility.

One thing Colon might not want to ask Essex about in the car this week is what he went through in the days -- well, nights to be more specific -- leading up to his first NFL start.

That came, coincidentally, against the Ravens in November, when Essex filled in for the injured Marvel Smith at left tackle.

Asked to describe the anxiety he felt, Essex said, "Can't sleep at night, thinking about plays in your sleep, girlfriend getting mad because you're waking up screaming out certain plays."

Thoughts of playing against the Ravens' defense are enough to keep even the most accomplished veteran up at night.

The Ravens have given up the fewest yards per game in the NFL, and they have already set a franchise sack record. What makes them particularly difficult to handle for offensive lineman is they frequently show one look and then morph into something else after the snap.

The 6-foot-4, 324-pound Essex made four starts as a rookie last season and has played in all but one of the Steelers games this season. He is listed as Smith's backup, but he said he had worked this season at every offensive line position during practice except center.

His experience would appear to give him an edge, but the Steelers have liked the 6-3, 315-pound Colon since taking him in the fourth round of April's draft.

The player who starts Sunday will only get so much out of the extra repetitions in practice and film study.

"It is going to be an adjustment," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said, "because you can see it on tape, you can practice it on the practice field. But until you experience the speed of (the game) and how quickly it happens, there is no assimilation for that."

Nor is there anything that can replicate facing pass-rusher extraordinaire Terrell Suggs.

At least Colon is realistic about what he'll face against the Ravens if he plays for Starks.

"It's a way to start off, huh?" Colon said. "Get thrown into the fire, get cooked a little bit. I've just got to go out there and compete and get it done."

Black@Gold Forever32
12-21-2006, 11:04 AM
Well having a backup RT against the Ravens is troubling. I want to see what Colon or Essex can do. I know Essex started four games last year. But he is really still an unknown. I like the attitude of the Colon kid. He seems nasty. If we could put Colon's attitude in Max Starks. Then Starks would be a great RT.

I know Max Starks did a great job on Julius Peppers last week but Starks overall this year has stunk. So I hope Colon gets the start and does a great job.

SteelerFanInCA
12-21-2006, 11:09 AM
Yeah I kind of like Colon's attitude myself. He does seem like a really tough guy. He seems like he will be battle ready for the trenches. He totally understands this is no easy task at hand.

83-Steelers-43
12-21-2006, 11:12 AM
Strange, I thought it was already announced that Colon got the nod for this Sunday? At least that's what I could have sworn I heard Starks state yesterday on the radio.

lamberts-lost-tooth
12-21-2006, 11:13 AM
Yeah I kind of like Colon's attitude myself. He does seem like a really tough guy. He seems like he will be battle ready for the trenches. He totally understands this is no easy task at hand.

I recall a quote from him in camp this year where he said ...that getting burnt on a play doesnt discourage him...it pisses him off and he has something to prove on the next play.

You GOTTA at least love the attitude!!

lamberts-lost-tooth
12-21-2006, 11:14 AM
Strange, I thought it was already announced that Colon got the nod for this Sunday? At least that's what I could have sworn I heard Starks state yesterday on the radio.


The other article that I just posted supports what you heard.

83-Steelers-43
12-21-2006, 11:15 AM
The other article that I just posted supports what you heard.

Thought so. Thanks.

SteelerFanInCA
12-21-2006, 11:17 AM
Hopefully he will bring that attitude to the game on Sunday and not be intimidated by any of the ravens. I'm sure the ravens defensive coordinator will be smelling new blood in the water. It should be a good battle to watch.

Atlanta Dan
12-21-2006, 12:21 PM
It is like Smith and Holmes getting more playing time with the injuries to Troy and Hines - a bad way to get playing time for back-ups (why is James Harrison not seeing reps at OLB?) that Cowher should have been doing voluntarily once the season crashed after the Denver game.

With Smith and Holmes you were replacing top shelf players. While Colon or Essex may get chewed up Sunday, I agree with other posters that Starks has been horrible for most of this season and am puzzled why he stayed off the bench (although that question may be answered for me at some point during the first half on Sunday).

Playing time for either Essex or Colon is a tardy start to the process of deciding whether to stay with Starks in 2007, assuming Starks does not leave as a restricted FA and force the issue of finding a replacement.

Atlanta Dan
12-21-2006, 12:37 PM
I know what you mean ... but on the other hand, look at how the whole Taylor-Towsend-McFadden situation has played out, and you can see how that way has its drawbacks too.

While sitting Taylor over Townsend for this length of time is a puzzler, getting more playing time for McFadden (which I recall initially had something to do with Townsend being dinged) is another illustration of the value of seeing if a younger player can be a potential starter.

IMHO these tryouts have established Holmes and McFaddden as starters for 2007. Too bad we have taken no significant steps to consider OL replacements for Simmons and Starks.

Black@Gold Forever32
12-21-2006, 12:44 PM
While sitting Taylor over Townsend for this length of time is a puzzler, getting more playing time for McFadden (which I recall initially had something to do with Townsend being dinged) is another illustration of the value of seeing if a younger player can be a potential starter.

IMHO these tryouts have established Holmes and McFaddden as starters for 2007. Too bad we have taken no significant steps to consider OL replacements for Simmons and Starks.

I'm with you Dan, I have no idea why James Harrison doesn't get more playing time. He should be in a consistent rotation with Porter/Haggans.

As for the Oline I agree it would be nice to see if these young guys can play and are worthy of staying on the team.

FLSteeler
12-21-2006, 01:02 PM
Ill take Willie Colon over Trae Essex after watching Freeney manhandle
Trae Essex last year in the first Colts game. Willie looked good in camp
this year . He does not take crap from nobody just ask Farrior. If they
pick Trae Essex then Iam behind them all the way.

" Go Steelers ":sign02: :helmet: :helmet: :jammin: :jammin:

BigDuke6
12-21-2006, 02:06 PM
It is like Smith and Holmes getting more playing time with the injuries to Troy and Hines - a bad way to get playing time for back-ups (why is James Harrison not seeing reps at OLB?) that Cowher should have been doing voluntarily once the season crashed after the Denver game.

With Smith and Holmes you were replacing top shelf players. While Colon or Essex may get chewed up Sunday, I agree with other posters that Starks has been horrible for most of this season and am puzzled why he stayed off the bench (although that question may be answered for me at some point during the first half on Sunday).

Playing time for either Essex or Colon is a tardy start to the process of deciding whether to stay with Starks in 2007, assuming Starks does not leave as a restricted FA and force the issue of finding a replacement.

Although he has had a bad season, and I've been all over him for it on alot of these boards but I am not ready to give up on him just yet. Lets get the kids in there to see what they've got, then we'll have a really competitive situation for playing time. And that can only help.

Preacher
12-21-2006, 02:35 PM
Although he has had a bad season, and I've been all over him for it on alot of these boards but I am not ready to give up on him just yet. Lets get the kids in there to see what they've got, then we'll have a really competitive situation for playing time. And that can only help.


I say... Give Willie Colon playing time. Heck, you never know... either he will stop the Ravens D... Or he will take em all on in a fight! Either way, he is going to be entertaining to watch!!!

Seriously, for me, he just has that Mike Webster feel.

83-Steelers-43
12-21-2006, 02:44 PM
Steelers: Colon to start at right tackle
Thursday, December 21, 2006

By Colin Dunlap, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bill Cowher announced after practice today that rookie right tackle Willie Colon will start Sunday's game against Baltimore in place of the injured Max Starks. It will be Colon's first NFL start.

In addition, defensive backs Troy Polamalu (knee) and Mike Logan (hamstring) have been upgraded to probable.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06355/747970-100.stm

Elvis
12-21-2006, 04:46 PM
:tt02:
I would like to get a good look at Colon and get him in there and see what we have. Essex got beat bad in the first game and its time for Colon to get in there...:wave:

polamalufan43
12-21-2006, 06:08 PM
I want to see Colon in there, end of story. Essex is good and getting better, but I want to get a good look at our rookie and see what he has to offer in the future. From what I've heard, he is a lineman hat will not give up and will not take any crap, which is what I think we need, especially when we are facing opponents like the Ratbirds.

~Polamalufan43:tt02:

NV STEELERS 723
12-21-2006, 06:15 PM
I'm glad Colon is starting....how the heck does he not have a car ????????????????

Stlrs4Life
12-21-2006, 06:15 PM
I didn't realize Starks was injured. Hopefully Colon can step it up.

OneForTheToe
12-22-2006, 06:41 PM
A little story many of you might not know about Max Starks? injury. Apparently, it did not happen in the game last week as previously thought. Instead, the injury occurred this past Monday.

As with most Mondays during the season, the Steelers players were given the day off.. Max decided to take the opportunity to go grocery shopping. He decided to call his good friend and fellow offensive lineman Kendall Simmons to see if Kendall wanted to accompany him. Kendall responded that, indeed he was low on groceries, and would accompany Max to the super market.

Max and Kendall met at the store at noon and began to shop. At 1:00 p.m. Max and Kendall were just about finished shopping , when Max noticed that the store was running a special on Ovaltine ? buy one get one free. Realizing what a great a good deal this was, both players filled their respective carts. As they continued down isle 5, side by side, towards the checkout, a voice came over the loudspeaker advertising the Ovaltine special. Little did the two teammates know that this announcement would play a huge roll in their immediate future.

Just at that moment, Elma Lambert, the grandmother of Steelers great Jack Lambert, was pushing her cart past the check-out towards the entrance to isle 5. Even though she had to be at her grandson?s house to celebrate her 98th birthday by 2:00, she couldn?t pass up the a great deal on Ovaltene. Elma approached isle 5 and turned quickly in only to be greeted with a violent crash. The momentum of the collision forced Max and Kendall straight back at least five yards. Unfortunately, Max suffered and injury that will keep him from this week?s game. Kendall?s injury was less severe; the team physician told him that as long as he ices his ankle for only 1 hour per night he should be fine for this week?s game. No problem there.

The situation could have been much worse for the Steelers. Five minute earlier Willie Parker had been at the other end of isle 5. Just as he was about to head down isle 5, he change their minds and decided to follow teammate Alan Faneca down isle 6.

For those interested, Elma was uninjured. As she drove off she was heard to exclaim, ?it?s a good thing those *&^%^^% weren?t kickers.