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View Full Version : Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center


SteelersMongol
08-29-2007, 06:04 AM
PITTSBURGH (AP) -Mike Webster was chosen for nine Pro Bowls at this position for the Steelers. Dermontti Dawson made it for seven. Jeff Hartings was an All-Pro there. Chukky Okobi understands what being Pittsburgh's starting center means, not only in the past but now.

That's why he will be so disappointed - no, make that angry - if he isn't.

Right now, he figures to be upset when new coach Mike Tomlin finally reveals who the Steelers' starting offensive linemen will be, something he hasn't done so far in the preseason. Tomlin is planning to wait until after Thursday night's exhibition game against Carolina to reveal his starters.

"I started camp as No. 1 ... but, right now, it seems to be the same (backup) role I've had," Okobi said Tuesday. "I've worked really hard this offseason - look at me, I think I look pretty good - but whatever happens, happens."

Okobi expected this was finally the year he would start, after Hartings retired following six seasons with Pittsburgh. The Steelers kept Okobi around for all of those seasons as a backup and gave him a $10 million contract several years ago - big money for someone with only six career starts.

While Okobi is scheduled to make $2 million this season, the kind of money that's normally paid only to a starter, Okobi is currently running behind Sean Mahan at center. Mahan, a guard-center who started for Tampa Bay when Tomlin was an assistant there, signed a five-year contract during the offseason that included a $4 million signing bonus and thus is certain to make the team.

Okobi opened training camp No. 1 on the depth chart, but Mahan began running ahead of him when Okobi missed time with a rib injury and has remained with the starters.

Though Tomlin hasn't confirmed it, there is every sign that Mahan, left tackle Marvel Smith, left guard Alan Faneca, right guard Kendall Simmons and right tackle Willie Colon will be the starters Sept. 9 in Cleveland. Colon has been practicing ahead of two-year starter Max Starks the last couple of weeks.

That unit started Sunday night's preseason game against Philadelphia and will start again Thursday night at Carolina.

"I missed a bunch of days with an injury and obviously it didn't help my cause any, but I think when I've been in there I've played really, really well," Okobi said. "I've done everything I can to control the situation."

Okobi doesn't have a good feel for the situation because the Steelers also have a new offensive line coach, with Larry Zierlein taking over from Russ Grimm, and offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, who replaced Ken Whisenhunt.

"I'm still in the process of getting to know these guys," Okobi said. "You've got to ask them. Maybe if it was Russ and these guys, I might have an answer. I really don't know what goes on in their staff meetings."

There's also this scenario: Rather than keeping Okobi as a backup if he doesn't start, the Steelers release him and keep Marvin Philip, a sixth-round pick a year ago, as a backup guard-center. Philip has been working at both positions, so it could happen - not many NFL teams can afford to keep three centers.

"This is the NFL and you're trying to get the best 53, and I'm definitely in the top 53 of the guys in this locker room," said Okobi, who is likely to find a job quickly if he's cut. "I'm just going to do what I do and I do it well, that's what kept me in this league, this locker room this long."

But if he's gone this time a week from now ...

"Once one door closes, another one opens," he said. "If I'm not on this roster I think it would be an injustice, but that's what it is, a business. It's a business."

Meanwhile, Faneca, the five-time All-Pro who is unsigned past this season, said there has been no movement by the Steelers toward offering him a new contract. The two sides have not talked for months, and Faneca promised in May this would be his last season in Pittsburgh.

"No, nothing going on in that area," he said. "It's status quo."

http://sports.excite.com/news/08292007/v5480.html

SteelersMongol
08-29-2007, 06:15 AM
Do you guys think that he'd be let go if he wasn't there with us the whole time because of his injury? And why are they keep saying he'd find job so quick if he gets cut? If he's that good, why can't we keep him instead of Marvin Philip? A veteran for a novice?

HometownGal
08-29-2007, 07:54 AM
I think it is pretty obvious with Tomlin that every position is earned and not handed out whether you are a long time vet or a rookie or somewhere in between. I have felt from the first time I saw Sean Mahan in TC that he should start at center or at the very least, play somewhere on that OL, as he was doing a great job blocking and holding defenders back. Tomlin obviously shares my sentiment. I'd hate to see Chukky go, as the guy has patiently awaited his coming out for all of these years, but Tomlin is going to put the best 53 guys on that roster and if in his opinion, Chukky doesn't fit that bill, he will be cut. I have no doubt that Chukky would quickly land a spot with another team. Hey - may the best man win. :thumbsup:

83-Steelers-43
08-29-2007, 08:03 AM
"If I'm not on this roster I think it would be an injustice, but that's what it is, a business. It's a business."

It's actually very simple. You play good, you make the team. You keep going down with some sort of injury whether it be in camp or during the regular season and if you don't show the coaching staff that your capable of playing your position, obviously your chances of starting diminish.

Last time I checked, that's not business, that's football.

Personally, I was hoping Philip would have stepped up to some degree this year so we could use Okobi as trade bait (Cards?) while Mahan starts at center, but I recall Philip getting bulled over on a couple of occasions and not exactly making big news in camp.

BlastFurnace
08-29-2007, 10:14 AM
The line does look better when Okobi is in there as opposed to Mahan though. When Mahan was in there, it was like a jail break in the middle of the line. With Okobi, it wasn't like that and he played pretty well when subbing for Hartings in the past.

Atlanta Dan
08-29-2007, 11:30 AM
Based on his Q&A yesterday Ed.B. of the P-G thinks Okobi could be released

Is there a real possibility Okobi could be released by Saturday?

Ed Bouchette: Yes. If he's not starting, he may not dress either and $2 million is a lot to pay for that. I think they might roll the dice and go younger with Marvin Philip, who also has been playing guard, as the backup to Sean Mahan.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07240/812713-66.stm

Ed.B. also thinks Haynes is odd man out with the RBs

83-Steelers-43
08-29-2007, 11:38 AM
From what I've seen, Minus blowing a snap in the shotgun during the Redskins game, Mahan has been the only center not getting overpowered. I felt he played particulary well during the Packers game. If I recall correctly, he blocked Hawk to spring Davenport for a five or eight yard gain. He handled the inside LB's just fine in that game (I believe Barnett in particular?) and played well in the run game and he wasn't beaten in pass protection. At the time, he was only going on two days of practice and really only two practice days in the Spring with the first team.

I'll take Mahan over Okobi at center.

HometownGal
08-29-2007, 05:02 PM
The line does look better when Okobi is in there as opposed to Mahan though. When Mahan was in there, it was like a jail break in the middle of the line. With Okobi, it wasn't like that and he played pretty well when subbing for Hartings in the past.

I have to strongly disagree with you here, BF. See 83's post above - he states it as good as it can be stated.

Mahan is a beast. I was so impressed with him at TC - he stopped every defender from coming across the line, including Big Snack. Imho - if he can stop Big Snack, he can stop anyone. In addition, the Steelers are paying Mahan a nice chunk of change and Chukky is getting $2 million per season for being a backup - I think the math here is pretty obvious.

NV STEELERS 723
08-30-2007, 01:24 AM
Mahan was signed to be the next STEELERS center...its not personnel w/ Okobi...I'm thinking the Ravens sign him

Galax Steeler
08-30-2007, 04:45 AM
From what I've seen, Minus blowing a snap in the shotgun during the Redskins game, Mahan has been the only center not getting overpowered. I felt he played particulary well during the Packers game. If I recall correctly, he blocked Hawk to spring Davenport for a five or eight yard gain. He handled the inside LB's just fine in that game (I believe Barnett in particular?) and played well in the run game and he wasn't beaten in pass protection. At the time, he was only going on two days of practice and really only two practice days in the Spring with the first team.

I'll take Mahan over Okobi at center.

I have to agree I like mahan over okobi I think he is handling the line alot better at this point.

revefsreleets
08-31-2007, 07:38 PM
It's interesting for a couple reasons. Okobi has been paid well to sit and learn, yet some guy comes in and takes his job from him for playing better, and he's bitter. That's not cool. I also think it's funny that the knock out of Tampa was that Mahan was weak and would only be able to hold his own at C in a power running game with tons of help. Shows how little the analysts really know.

steelpride12
08-31-2007, 10:43 PM
The line does look better when Okobi is in there as opposed to Mahan though. When Mahan was in there, it was like a jail break in the middle of the line. With Okobi, it wasn't like that and he played pretty well when subbing for Hartings in the past.

I disagree Okobi has played Ok in the best,but never as impressive as Mahan. Mahan will take the starting role but Okobi will be his backup because he will deserve it.

MasterOfPuppets
08-31-2007, 10:48 PM
I disagree Okobi has played Ok in the best,but never as impressive as Mahan. Mahan will take the starting role but Okobi will be his backup because he will deserve it.

but he doesn't deserve to be paid like a starter....:coffee:

steelpride12
08-31-2007, 10:49 PM
I disagree Okobi has played Ok in the best,but never as impressive as Mahan. Mahan will take the starting role but Okobi will be his backup because he will deserve it. but he doesn't deserve to be paid like a starter....:coffee:

Ya a Backup role.

The Duke
09-01-2007, 12:27 AM
Ya a Backup role.

what masterofpuppets means I think is that if Okobi is not the starter he will get released because we won't pay him what he earns for being a backup. Marvin Phillip can be a semi good backup, let's just hope injuries don't come often this season

83-Steelers-43
09-01-2007, 07:15 AM
Steelers' Tomlin wise to maintain status quo
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, September 1, 2007

It isn't official, but get used to calling Sean Mahan the Steelers' new starting center.

You can call Mahan something else, too: Coach Mike Tomlin's security blanket.

If Mahan, as expected, gets the nod to snap the football to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the Sept. 9 season opener against Cleveland, he and rookie punter Daniel Sepulveda will be the only starters personally acquired and endorsed by the head man.

The other 22 starters are holdovers from the Bill Cowher regime. It is to their credit that some of them not only maintained their starting positions under Tomlin, they enhanced their status.

The only apparent new starter on defense is right outside linebacker James Harrison, who replaces Joey Porter.

Why would any coach in his right mind mess around with the defense? The first-team defense was flawless in five preseason games, yielding a total of 10 points.

Compare that with the Steelers' first-team offense, which scored a total of 10 points in five games.

You don't mess with excellence. Tomlin is smart enough to leave well enough alone on defense.

Right now, any tinkering done by Tomlin will involve the offense and special teams.

Of the three apparent new starters on offense who didn't start in the 2006 opener, Mahan is the only player who wasn't on the roster last season.

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes was the team's No. 1 draft pick. He didn't crack the starting lineup until late in the season.

Right tackle Willie Colon was a fourth-round draft pick who started the final two games.

Holmes and Colon were known quantities.

Mahan was known only to Tomlin, who coached against him every day in practice for three seasons as Tampa Bay's secondary coach.

If anyone knows Mahan's strengths and weaknesses, and whether he can handle the pressure that's associated with becoming the Steelers' starting center under the new coach, it's Tomlin.

Mahan is Tomlin's guy. So it's his call.

Mahan it is.

Sometimes a coach needs a player he's familiar with to be a valued member of the team, especially a new coach coming to a veteran team like the Steelers.

Mahan had a good preseason, but he wasn't head-and-shoulders better than Chukky Okobi, who he has apparently beaten out for the starting job.

From the get-go, it was Mahan's job to lose, never Okobi's to win.

Mahan started the final four exhibition games. Okobi started the opener.

"When did Chukky play bad in the preseason?" said agent Joe Linta, who said he represents about two dozen NFL offensive linemen, Okobi and Colon included.

"Mike Tomlin was right. There are eight starters on the offensive line. (Me) being an offensive line guy watching every snap of the preseason, at worst (Mahan and Okobi) are even."

So where does Mahan's likely promotion leave Okobi, who played behind Jeff Hartings for five seasons and fully expected to replace him in the 2007 starting lineup?

Right back where he started: No. 2, and trying harder.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_525193.html

83-Steelers-43
09-01-2007, 07:26 AM
"When did Chukky play bad in the preseason?" said agent Joe Linta, who said he represents about two dozen NFL offensive linemen, Okobi and Colon included.

I guess we are going to leave out how Mahan looked in camp while Okobi did absolutely nothing to impress? Nevermind being injured......(back and then ribs after neck last season). Yeah, Okobi did not play "bad", but he did not play good either. Mahan at least showed me something in TC and against Green Bay.

Gotta love agents.

MasterOfPuppets
09-01-2007, 10:28 AM
I guess we are going to leave out how Mahan looked in camp while Okobi did absolutely nothing to impress? Nevermind being injured......(back and then ribs after neck last season). Yeah, Okobi did not play "bad", but he did not play good either. Mahan at least showed me something in TC and against Green Bay.

Gotta love agents.if he was starks agent he'd be saying the same thing...:coffee:

FOOTEupyourarse
09-01-2007, 11:10 AM
i dont know how you can say that MAHAN is tomlins guy? was he really watching him in Tampa Bay? Im prettty sure he was just consentrating on the db's dont you think? its not like he brought in a WR, TE, QB, or RB that his DB's went against every play. if MaAHAN stood out that much to a DB's coach then either he is the greatest C ever to play the game or he was playing poorly and thats how he got noticed. im think OKOBI should be the starter. he knows the system, the knows the rest of the line and the front office felt he is the next in line?

83-Steelers-43
09-01-2007, 11:13 AM
and the front office felt he is the next in line?

"Felt" being the key word.

He may know the line and the system, but if he is not getting the job done on the field it means nothing at all. I'll take Tomlin's word for it until Mahan proves to me that he is unable to handle the duties at center. Up to this point, I have more faith in Mahan than I do Okobi.

By no means am I stating that Mahan is our next Webster, Dawson or even Hartings, but I feel he's been solid through preseason and in TC to get the starting job. That's more than I can say about Okobi. I guess we will just have to wait and see how Mahan looks during the regular season to see if Tomlin made the right decision. If Mahan doesn't pan out, I'm not sure Okobi would be any better, but it will be interesting to see how Mahan plays.

Smashmouth225
09-01-2007, 11:42 AM
I read somewhere Big Snack stated Mahan gave him problems, forgive me for not having the clip, in camp. I guess going against Okobi was like taking candy from a baby. Of Okobi doesn't start he gets cut IMO and Philips backs up LG/C.

Preacher
09-01-2007, 06:51 PM
"When did Chukky play bad in the preseason?" said agent Joe Linta, who said he represents about two dozen NFL offensive linemen, Okobi and Colon included.

"Mike Tomlin was right. There are eight starters on the offensive line. (Me) being an offensive line guy watching every snap of the preseason, at worst (Mahan and Okobi) are even."

So where does Mahan's likely promotion leave Okobi, who played behind Jeff Hartings for five seasons and fully expected to replace him in the 2007 starting lineup?

Right back where he started: No. 2, and trying harder.

I guess he got that one wrong!

Elvis
09-01-2007, 07:02 PM
I think that Mahan will do a fine job, I dont know about carrying on the Steelers tradition of great centers' but he will do until we get a young man in there to take over the position. And with Okobi not being the starter after his big contract signing last year, he had to go or take a big pay cut. Wouldnt suprise me at all to see the Arizona Cardinals pick him up.
:tt02:

MasterOfPuppets
09-01-2007, 07:11 PM
if chucky wasn't pissed before ,he sure is now !!! :sofunny:

Preacher
09-01-2007, 07:12 PM
if chucky wasn't pissed before ,he sure is now !!! :sofunny:

Hello Arizona....


Boy, that game will get more and more interesting... eh?

MasterOfPuppets
09-01-2007, 07:14 PM
Hello Arizona....


Boy, that game will get more and more interesting... eh?
its just upsetting that they don't even attempt to make trades.

Crushzilla
09-01-2007, 08:31 PM
guess going against Okobi was like taking candy from a baby.

I have a feeling "Big Snack" knows a thing or two about that.

I, too, am comfortable with Mahan. I saw an interview with him on FSN one day. I like this guy's attitude, as well.

Even if I didn't, he's the man now. He also has HUGE shoes to fill playing Center for the Black and Gold.

Preacher
09-01-2007, 11:57 PM
I have a feeling "Big Snack" knows a thing or two about that.

I, too, am comfortable with Mahan. I saw an interview with him on FSN one day. I like this guy's attitude, as well.

Even if I didn't, he's the man now. He also has HUGE shoes to fill playing Center for the Black and Gold.

Here's to a C for the next 13 years!!!!

(I hope!)

Atlanta Dan
09-02-2007, 12:11 AM
According to the P-G the Steelers tried to trade Okobi prior to cutting him (I guess the Falcons are not looking for centers)

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07245/814186-66.stm

xbroughneck
09-02-2007, 01:17 PM
if chucky wasn't pissed before ,he sure is now !!! :sofunny:

:cheers:


I laughed out loud with that comment.

revefsreleets
09-03-2007, 09:16 PM
Yeah, trades aren't real logical now, since each team is flooding the market with their cuts.