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ChronoCross
07-28-2007, 10:02 PM
Many Steelers position battles far from settled

By Scott Brown (sbrown@tribweb.com)
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ryan Clark is approachable and affable, but the Steelers' free safety made it clear last week that he did not want to talk about one of the position battles that will play out during coach Mike Tomlin's first training camp. "I'm not answering questions about Anthony Smith," Clark said as he walked off the playing field last week following a morning practice at St. Vincent College.
Game on? Well, yes and no.
Clark is one of several veterans who could lose a starting job to players they helped tutor as rookies just last year. That hasn't stopped him, right tackle Max Starks or wide receiver Cedrick Wilson from giving pointers to the players who will push them for their starting positions (and may well pass them on the depth chart if they haven't already).
The reasons for this are varied: they were rookies at one time, competition will make them - and ultimately the Steelers - better, and competitors sometimes become as close to one another off the field as they are on it. That is the case with Smith and Clark, even though the two players with different personalities are vying for the same job.
"We're actually best friends, I would say, on the team," Smith said. "We don't let (the competition) go off the field. We both have an understanding that it's out of our hands. Whatever decision (the coaches make), he's going to help me out, I'm going to help him out."
Holmes, one of the top rookies in the NFL last season, so appreciated the help that Wilson gave him that he made a point of publicly thanking the veteran during a wide receivers meeting.
Wilson appreciated the gesture, but it also surprised him, pleasantly, because he said he has always made himself available to younger players, particularly first-year ones.
The player that Wilson credits for showing him the finer points of the game during his rookie season in San Francisco has become, oddly enough, the face (and caricature) of the self-absorbed athlete.
Of course, that was before Terrell Owens and good teammate went together like McDonald's and gourmet dining.
"T.O. was a great mentor, his practice habits, his work ethic," said Wilson, who played for the 49ers from 2001-04 before signing with the Steelers. "He's just like Hines (Ward) and myself. We don't like to see young guys continue to get out here and make mistakes. I was just happy to be a part of (Holmes') development and I hope he continues to develop."
Holmes finished second on the team in catches (49) and receiving yards (824) in 2006 and started the final three games of the season after an ankle injury slowed Wilson.
The Steelers' first-round pick in 2006 entered training camp ahead of Wilson on the depth chart at split end. Holmes, however, has left an opening for his mentor by missing the first week of practice while recovering from an undisclosed medical procedure.
An injury to Starks gave Willie Colon a chance to play last season, and the two games he started at right tackle erased any doubts he might have had that he can play in the NFL.
His time on the field also convinced Colon, a fourth-round pick out of Hofstra in 2006, that he has done enough watching.
"I've never sat on the bench," said Colon, who dropped 15 to 20 pounds to get ready for camp and his challenge for a starting job. "It's going to be a dogfight, and I love Max. I just want to be able to beat him out."
If Starks ends up on the bench, he'll have played at least a small role in the demotion since he helped Colon last season. But he didn't think twice about giving advice to the rookie, even though it has helped, if only in a small way, put Colon in a position to unseat Starks.
"Barrett Brooks helped me my rookie year (2004) and then the right tackle job became available, and it was me versus Barrett," said Starks, who beat out the veteran Brooks for the starting job. "There's always a new guy coming in. There's going to be competition."
The one between Clark and Smith has been anything but cut-throat.
The outgoing Clark took an immediate liking to Smith, a third-round pick in 2006, and no doubt helped draw him out of his shell.
He liked the humility with which Smith, who comes across as reserved, carried himself, and he didn't see the former Syracuse star's immense talent as a threat, but something he should help nurture.
"I've heard, on other teams, that older guys, they don't help the younger guys out because they know they're coming for their spot," said Smith, who has goes to Clark's house for dinner and plays with his kids. "But here they help the young guys out because you're only as good as your weakest link. Me and Ryan clicked off the bat."
Things really started to click for Smith after a late-season injury to Clark gave him a chance to start.
He made a couple of interceptions and established himself as a fierce and fearless hitter.
During an 11-on-11 drill last Thursday, he belted Willie Reid after the wide receiver caught a pass off a slant pattern.
That, in so many words, told Clark that friends or no friends, Smith is coming after his job.
Clark wouldn't have it any other way.
"We're all competing, but we all want to win as a team," Clark said. "I feel like with him playing great, whether it's starting or whatever, if it helps us be a better team I'm going to do whatever it takes to help that."

nicesteel4life
07-29-2007, 12:15 AM
Heck No! There is some battles going on hard! I think its great for Steelers Football! Many arent going to be decided quickly either. I see it across the offense of line as well as almost the entire defense, except for the interior line and Troy. Were going to have some nice depth. I predict a very good pre-season record!

Preacher
07-29-2007, 12:57 AM
Man...

I am just getting more and more excited.

I love reading about how the vets are teaching our rookies what to do.

Maybe that is why the Steelers continue to be so good... because they pass on the secrets.

The Duke
07-29-2007, 12:59 AM
Man...

I am just getting more and more excited.

I love reading about how the vets are teaching our rookies what to do.

Maybe that is why the Steelers continue to be so good... because they pass on the secrets.

Makes you wonder on Smith's comment that vets in other teams don't give advice to rookies, that's a little selfish.

Preacher
07-29-2007, 01:19 AM
Makes you wonder on Smith's comment that vets in other teams don't give advice to rookies, that's a little selfish.

Yeah,

I picked up on that too...

Did you also see what was said about T.O? Hmmm. If that was how he continued...he would have been a great player.

ChronoCross
07-29-2007, 01:42 AM
One position I love to hear about is Clark and Smith. No matter which one starts there both hard hitters and great in coverage. We could not ask for a better FS and Backup FS depending on which one starts. Right now smith is penciled in for the Browns game but that could change at any time.

I am still waiting on the O line to be shuffled around more and see who they talk about more.

One person I was happy to see in camp was Walter Young. He has such good hands. Just wish his route running was as good. Got some good WRs out there and we should have a solid WR group starting the season.

Preacher
07-29-2007, 01:55 AM
I just can't wait...

Dang it. how long before the first game!

Elvis
07-29-2007, 06:41 AM
The way things sound to me with Anthony Smith and our secondary that we are still struggling against the pass. Sounds good that Ben is having a good camp, but is it showing how weak our secondary is or is it just that Ben is so much improved? I also think that the coaches (Tomlin) needs to get things under control with all the contact that our top recievers are taking 5 days into camp as well. When you have DB's making late hits like it sounds like they are doing, then you are taking chances on injuring our top players... whether it be offense or defense. I think that when HInes is complaining about it, then the coaches should take notice.
:helmet::tt02:

Galax Steeler
07-29-2007, 07:13 AM
I think colon will take the starting job from starks.

rog
07-29-2007, 09:19 AM
I think it's great that we have a team built on unselfish hard working team players. That's exactly what we need to have a great season.GO STEELERS!!!!!

The Duke
07-29-2007, 12:51 PM
The way things sound to me with Anthony Smith and our secondary that we are still struggling against the pass. Sounds good that Ben is having a good camp, but is it showing how weak our secondary is or is it just that Ben is so much improved? I also think that the coaches (Tomlin) needs to get things under control with all the contact that our top recievers are taking 5 days into camp as well. When you have DB's making late hits like it sounds like they are doing, then you are taking chances on injuring our top players... whether it be offense or defense. I think that when HInes is complaining about it, then the coaches should take notice.
:helmet::tt02:

Haven't thought about that, is something of a concern, but I guess we will get some answers next sunday against the saints.

fansince'76
07-29-2007, 01:02 PM
When you have DB's making late hits like it sounds like they are doing, then you are taking chances on injuring our top players... whether it be offense or defense. I think that when HInes is complaining about it, then the coaches should take notice.
:helmet::tt02:

They're not making late hits - they're making hard hits. Big difference. Do you think the FO should have listened to Hines when he publicly groused about Tomlin's hiring? I love Hines, but at this point, he needs to zip it.

Black@Gold Forever32
07-29-2007, 01:15 PM
I think our secondary isn't as bad as some think and I think they're a solid group....I love the fact they're hitting and laying the smack down.....Hey I don't fault Hines for looking for his fellow WRs but I'm glad Tomlin is not telling the DBs to lay off any.....You don't want to take that killer instinct away from players....As for the coverage issue....I think Smith showed enough in limited time that he is a ball hawk and solid in coverage...with a year under his belt I'm sure he is improving.....Smith will bring fear to WRs across the NFL when going over the middle...I love it thinking that WRs might have Smith in the back of their minds when catching a pass......

HometownGal
07-29-2007, 04:34 PM
It is great seeing the vets taking the younger guys under their wings. :thumbsup: Comradery is a plus for any successful team and the Steelers are all about the team 'tude. Good read Chrono - thanks!

Preacher
07-29-2007, 07:10 PM
It is great seeing the vets taking the younger guys under their wings. :thumbsup: Comradery is a plus for any successful team and the Steelers are all about the team 'tude. Good read Chrono - thanks!

Again...

it seems that we now know why the Steelers always keeps that "way" about them. The last of the 70's SB generation taught the young ones... those young ones taught the 90's players when they were old vets. Seems that the tradition really does continue.

Welcome To Smashmouth
07-30-2007, 09:47 PM
Whats up guys. Due to the official steelers message board's excessive LACKING its looking like Steelers Fever is gonna be a new home!!

Anyways, its apparent that other than his INT in coverage we don't know a whole heck of a lot about his abilities on the field, as he can't seem to even keep himself on it. The question is, will he be seeing action in Sunday's HALL OF FAME GAME which I know we're all stoked to see!?

My biggest excitements are how the rookies show up, who gets the nod at starter, and the battle at FS between Smith and Clark. To me, Smith is the way to go - his talent/potential/progression is just too extreme to keep him out of the starting position, but we shall see. Smith + Polamalu is without a doubt one of the most intimidating safety tandems in the league, and i'd love to see it week-in-week-out.

What do you guys think??

Welcome To Smashmouth
07-30-2007, 10:03 PM
Whats up guys. Due to the official steelers message board's excessive LACKING its looking like Steelers Fever is gonna be a new home!!

Anyways, its apparent that other than his INT in coverage we don't know a whole heck of a lot about his abilities on the field, as he can't seem to even keep himself on it. The question is, will he be seeing action in Sunday's HALL OF FAME GAME which I know we're all stoked to see!?

My biggest excitements are how the rookies show up, who gets the nod at starter, and the battle at FS between Smith and Clark. To me, Smith is the way to go - his talent/potential/progression is just too extreme to keep him out of the starting position, but we shall see. Smith + Polamalu is without a doubt one of the most intimidating safety tandems in the league, and i'd love to see it week-in-week-out.

What do you guys think??


...this question was targeted as a seperate question about Timmons against the Saints....is this really the most appropriate place to move it??

steelpride12
07-30-2007, 10:07 PM
Always nice to see the good ol vets out there helping the youngsters and making sure there well prepared for the upcoming season.

Jman
07-30-2007, 10:10 PM
It could just be a combination. Ben is having a good camp and that's great. Do I think the secondary has been a concern? When isn't the secondary a concern? Mind you, I might be slight more critical than others, but I feel that our secondary has been an area of concern for the past few seasons. Are they terrible? Not at all! But it is an area of concern for me. Now I know I might get in some hot water with that comment, but it's just the way I feel.

X-Terminator
07-30-2007, 10:11 PM
...this question was targeted as a seperate question about Timmons against the Saints....is this really the most appropriate place to move it??

It is a question relating to training camp, so yes, this is the appropriate place. We are keeping all TC discussion limited to this subforum, as we do not want the main Steelers forum cluttered up with 10,000 threads about TC and thus making it easier for members to find TC-related info. Links to all subforums are listed underneath the main forums on the index page, so you're always one click away.

fansince'76
07-30-2007, 10:17 PM
...this question was targeted as a seperate question about Timmons against the Saints....is this really the most appropriate place to move it??

My personal feeling is he's too far behind to play in a game this week. Maybe the 2nd preaseason game.

The Duke
07-31-2007, 11:47 AM
Hopefully The Wood will play, I know that kid is gonna be a monster on the field

Preacher
07-31-2007, 09:32 PM
My personal feeling is he's too far behind to play in a game this week. Maybe the 2nd preaseason game.

Wow... FS76, you surprise me... at this point, I would say that he doesn't play until the last game of camp... and the during the season, only during throw-away parts of the game.

2 reasons... 1. He doesn't have the conditioning needed 2. He will not have the reps with the defense.

fansince'76
07-31-2007, 09:37 PM
Wow... FS76, you surprise me... at this point, I would say that he doesn't play until the last game of camp... and the during the season, only during throw-away parts of the game.

2 reasons... 1. He doesn't have the conditioning needed 2. He will not have the reps with the defense.

Sorry, allow me to clarify - I think he might get worked into a couple plays starting the 2nd game, depending on the groin. No way will he see any significant game time until the end of camp, again, depending on the groin.