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83-Steelers-43
03-14-2007, 10:09 AM
Okobi will challenge Simmons, Mahan for starting center job

By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Joe Linta can do the math. Chukky Okobi, one of his clients, has three years remaining on his contract and is scheduled to earn about $2.5 million in 2007.

Okobi will challenge Kendall Simmons and new addition Sean Mahan to become the starting center as the Steelers look to replace Jeff Hartings. The fact that Okobi wasn't asked to take a pay cut is good news for his client, Linta said.

Linta spoke with Steelers management and was told Mahan's signing doesn't mean Okobi is no longer a part of the team's plans. Linta said Mahan's five-year, $17 million deal, which includes a $4 million signing bonus, isn't excessive and doesn't guarantee he will start.

"We've talked. Everything's fine. Chukky's been told, I've been told, he will be given every opportunity to start," Linta said Tuesday. "If they gave this kid (Mahan) Eric Steinbach money, that would indicate he was going to start. This is middle-of-the-pack, lower starting guard money."

Steinbach, who plays guard, signed a seven-year, $49.5 million free-agent contract with Cleveland. Mahan, who started at guard for Tampa Bay last season, has the versatility to play center.

Linta said it's incorrect to assume Mahan's signing means Okobi is on the way out.

For starters, the Steelers didn't ask Okobi to take a pay cut, which would be the normal procedure for a player at Okobi's salary level if he were going to be the backup.

"Chukky's premature death was misrepresented," Linta said. "The fact that they didn't ask Chukky to take a pay cut is huge. That tells me they're going to treat him fairly. He won't be making backup pay. If he doesn't beat the guy out, he's going to be a well-paid backup."

Note: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was among 100 NFL personnel in attendance yesterday to watch Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson, defensive tackle Keith Jackson and cornerback Chris Houston at the school's pro day. Anderson and Houston are projected first-round picks. Tomlin is expected to attend Louisiana State's pro day today to watch projected first-round picks Laron Landry (safety) and Dwayne Bowe (wide receiver).

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_497550.html

Jeremy
03-14-2007, 10:30 AM
If Okobi doesn't win the starting job, I don't see the Steelers holding on to him and his salary. He could be a late cut or trade bait if Mahan, Philip, or Simmons beats him out for the job.

ajs8207
03-14-2007, 10:32 AM
I doubt Okobi will be on our roster for 2007

19ward86
03-14-2007, 12:38 PM
i think mahan should take simmons job, and simmons should be cut

OneForTheToe
03-14-2007, 12:51 PM
I also think Simmons could be the odd man out. I could see Mahan starting at guard until either Chris K or Willie Colon step up to start. Then, the Steelers make a decision in 2008 based on whether Faneca is still in the plans.

ajs8207
03-14-2007, 01:41 PM
Simmons is paid less than Okobi. Thats why I think Simmons will stay and Okobi will be gone

19ward86
03-14-2007, 03:26 PM
but okobi is actually good at his position, unlike simmons. simmons would be better at being a fullback rather a OG. chris kemeaoto will probably start in the next couple of years.

The Duke
03-14-2007, 03:50 PM
Good luck Chukky, but I see newcomer Mahan starting. As for Simmons let's give him and the rest of the o line time to prove they are better than last season.

Jeremy
03-14-2007, 05:08 PM
but okobi is actually good at his position, unlike simmons. simmons would be better at being a fullback rather a OG. chris kemeaoto will probably start in the next couple of years.

Based on what? A few quaters of play against someone's second team?

I'll be honest in that I always viewed Okobi as a pet project of Cowher's. I never saw the potential in him that other people saw. I simply don't see us going to the Super Bowl with Okobi as our starting center.

83-Steelers-43
03-14-2007, 05:27 PM
I'm more than willing to give the o-line a chance, but in all honesty Simmons concerns me. It's now been two years in a row it took him half the season to play good ball. Hopefully he can put together a full season but I'm not holding my breath.

Steeldude
03-14-2007, 09:20 PM
but okobi is actually good at his position, unlike simmons. simmons would be better at being a fullback rather a OG. chris kemeaoto will probably start in the next couple of years.

jury is still on out on whether okobi is good or bad. i figured last year or the year before he would have been C and hartings would have been moved over to the RG spot.

ChronoCross
03-14-2007, 09:58 PM
Okobi has trained and groomed behind one heck of a center. If he cannot go in and win the job against Simmons and Mahan with the time he has had to groom then he does not belong on the team. Now Mahan wants to start and if Okobi wins out then let Mahan compete against Simmons and let the best man win. Me personally regardless of the money running thru the line I want the best line we can put up for Ben this coming season. So lets get the best player out there.

GBMelBlount
03-14-2007, 10:05 PM
The aforementioned are all opinions. Let the coaches make the decisions. Renogotiate contracts if at all possible, before cutting backups that are paid too high. We'll know soon.
However, I do think it is a shame to groom a backup for 5 years at a good wage and not start him, which may be the case.

SteelCzar76
03-14-2007, 10:45 PM
I think the Center position is Okobi's to lose. And i expect him to surprise many with how well he performs. And i don't know,....but IMO Mahan seems to be Alan's prospective future replacement at guard.
Meaning Simmons may very well be the 'odd man out' if Kemoeatu lives up to his potential.

Stlrs4Life
03-14-2007, 11:08 PM
but okobi is actually good at his position, unlike simmons. simmons would be better at being a fullback rather a OG. chris kemeaoto will probably start in the next couple of years.



If Okkobi is so good, why hasn't he been starting already, and why did they also try Simmons last season during training camp at C?

ChronoCross
03-14-2007, 11:21 PM
If Okkobi is so good, why hasn't he been starting already, and why did they also try Simmons last season during training camp at C?

Remember Hartings was the Center and just maybe Cowher played him by favor but then again to me Hartings is one of the greats at his position. Its hard to beat out great players, but also there was the Cowher factor of sticking with players even if one on the bench was better, so we will never know the truth there. Simmons and Okobi both played under center in several games and just maybe Cowher was building up footage going into this next season to watch and also get ready for hartings retirement. Which is good for Tomlin. Tomlin has footage on both, he knows mahan, and going into training camp he already knows some of the weak points and strong points of each. The factor that hurts Simmons is he is a guard as well as very limited play time at center, same thing with Mahan he has limited play time at center in his career as well. Okobi is the only one that has constantly studied the Center position. Center is a very big position on that line and we need one who knows what there doing 100%.

GBMelBlount
03-14-2007, 11:29 PM
Remember Hartings was the Center and just maybe Cowher played him by favor but then again to me Hartings is one of the greats at his position. Its hard to beat out great players, but also there was the Cowher factor of sticking with players even if one on the bench was better, so we will never know the truth there. Simmons and Okobi both played under center in several games and just maybe Cowher was building up footage going into this next season to watch and also get ready for hartings retirement. Which is good for Tomlin. Tomlin has footage on both, he knows mahan, and going into training camp he already knows some of the weak points and strong points of each. The factor that hurts Simmons is he is a guard as well as very limited play time at center, same thing with Mahan he has limited play time at center in his career as well. Okobi is the only one that has constantly studied the Center position. Center is a very big position on that line and we need one who knows what there doing 100%.

Wow, because center is one of the least talked about positions I thought it was one of the lesser important on the O-line. Am I wrong?

ChronoCross
03-14-2007, 11:41 PM
Wow, because center is one of the least talked about positions I thought it was one of the lesser important on the O-line. Am I wrong?

Ben maybe reading defenses and calling out some of the blitz, but besides the play, the Center makes adjustments to the blocking scheme at the line and them adjustments are very important. We need a Center who can do that on the fly. The Center and QB work together to make sure every defensive guy is covered in all blocking schemes. Center is very important.

tony hipchest
03-15-2007, 12:03 AM
Ben maybe reading defenses and calling out some of the blitz, but besides the play, the Center makes adjustments to the blocking scheme at the line and them adjustments are very important. We need a Center who can do that on the fly. The Center and QB work together to make sure every defensive guy is covered in all blocking schemes. Center is very important.just to add to this, while terry bradshaw gets so much credit for calling his own plays, even he will quickly admit that none of that wouldve been possible with all the calls mike webster made at the line. it was really mike and terry running the great steelers offense.

as for hartings starting last year, sure he had no knees, but okolbi was coming off an injury that very well couldve ended his season or his career, philip was a rookie in the league (you dont wanna ask a smallish rookie to anchor the offense of the sb defending champs, and simmons was an unknown project). beeing that hartings cap number was kept and mangold wasnt drafted, starting hartings was the right move.

NV STEELERS 723
03-15-2007, 12:06 AM
Mahan was a great pick-up....he's flexible,; being able to play center and guard...since he's getting a season w/ Faneca don't think Mahan won't be looked at as the next elite OF Lineman in the NFL.... and he was signed for 5 YEARS and only 17 mil !!!! how do the STEELERS do it ?!

tony hipchest
03-15-2007, 12:17 AM
Mahan was a great pick-up....he's flexible,; being able to play center and guard...since he's getting a season w/ Faneca don't think Mahan won't be looked at as the next elite OF Lineman in the NFL.... and he was signed for 5 YEARS and only 17 mil !!!! how do the STEELERS do it ?!in 4 years 2.4 for him will be bargain basement price if the steelers coaches and scouts are correct. agreed. good move (one that suggests we may have lost out at not landing san franciscos punter on a 6 year deal)

yinzer-inseattle
03-16-2007, 12:27 PM
Wow, because center is one of the least talked about positions I thought it was one of the lesser important on the O-line. Am I wrong?

IMO Center is the main position on the OL. It's the guy everyone looks to to keep the OL working together. When you need an on field coach to help guys make adjustments to the blocking schemes and pick-ups on blitzes that's more than likely going to come from your center. Dawson and Webster were exceptional in that role. I'd rate Hartings excellent as well. This is also why continuity at center is so important. I'm 40 years old. In my lifetime the Steelers have had 4 starting centers Mansfield, Webster, Dawson and Hartings. The OL play in that timeframe has also been at the top of the league. That's no coincidence.

Because of the on field leadership requirement, I think the center position is as important as who coaches these guys. No disrespect to Larry Zierlein or Russ Grim.

This is a a little different situation for the Steelers. In previous years there was never a "Centers Controversy"; because we knew who the man would be. With that said, the Steelers Org has set the table to find that out in short order. Who ever wins the battle will be very deserving and will continue our great tradition.

Suitanim
03-16-2007, 04:43 PM
The C is the QB of the OL. We are spoiled as Steelers fans because over the last quarter of the 20th Century we had the two best Center's to ever play the game, and Hartings was certainly no slouch either.