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lamberts-lost-tooth
10-12-2008, 09:49 AM
Steelers' depth keeps team afloat
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, October 12, 2008

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, and the ageless Hines Ward is fourth among NFL wide receivers in touchdown receptions (four).

Outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are each on pace to break the Steelers' single-season sack record (15), and Troy Polamalu has shown why he might be the best safety in the NFL.

But as good as their stars have been, the Steelers' 4-1 start is as much a testament to their Mewelde Moores as it is their marquee players.

Moore barely played in the Steelers' first three games. But the Steelers might not be taking a two-game winning streak into Cincinnati next Sunday -- they have a bye this week -- if not for the scatback.

If Moore has been a revelation, the same holds true of the Steelers' overall depth.

"It's probably as good as I've seen it since I've been here," said linebacker James Farrior, who has been with the Steelers since 2002. "We've seen guys take over starting roles and excel."

Nowhere has that been bigger for the Steelers, both literally and figuratively, than along the defensive line.

Two of the team's three starters up front have missed a pair of games because of injuries. Yet, the Steelers have hardly been overpowered at the point of attack.

Nose tackle Chris Hoke has played like he did in 2004 when he started 12 games -- and excelled -- after Casey Hampton went down with a knee injury.

Travis Kirschke, meanwhile, has more then held his own at right defensive end in the three games he has started for the injured Brett Keisel. The Steelers have also gotten key contributions from reserve defensive ends Nick Eason and Orpheus Roye.

Through at least the first quarter of the season, the defensive line has stood up against the opposition as well as criticism that it is too old -- Eason and tackle Scott Paxson are the only players on the unit that are younger than 30 -- and lacking in quality depth.

"I can't say enough about Hokie, Kirschke and Roye," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "We've got starters -- and starters in waiting."

That is ideally what a team wants when putting together its roster.

Injuries are becoming more prevalent in the NFL, given the speed of the game and the size of its players. The rash of injuries the Steelers have weathered shows just how critical it is for teams to fill the final spots on the roster with quality players -- and to make the correct personnel decisions when paring the roster to the 53-man limit.

"Depth is a huge issue in this league," said ESPN analyst and former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson, who played on three Super Bowl champion teams in the 1990s. "Our teams in '92 and '93, our backups could have beaten teams in the league. We were just so deep."

The Steelers showed some of their depth against the Ravens, when Moore was their only remaining healthy running back. Moore made the biggest play of the game, a 24-yard catch-and-run, in the Steelers' 23-20 overtime win.

He followed that by rushing for almost 100 yards in a 26-21 win over the Jaguars while starting in place of the injured Willie Parker.

Just as vital to the offense in recent weeks has been the play of Darnell Stapleton, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2007 and took over at right guard after Kendall Simmons went down with a season-ending foot injury.

In his first career start at Jacksonville, Stapleton helped pave the way for Moore and a Steelers ground game that rolled up 129 yards -- 91 more than the Jaguars and their vaunted running back duo of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew managed.

"We have guys itching to come in here and showcase what they can do," Ward said. "That's the way it should be."

It has certainly been that way at right cornerback.

Bryant McFadden started the Browns game on Sept. 14 because of a foot injury that sidelined first-stringer Deshea Townsend. McFadden has played so well that Townsend has not been able to reclaim his starting job.

"Players are waiting for their chance to play," said Keisel, who will return to action against the Bengals. "When they get that chance, they play well -- and we win games."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_592900.html

steelpride12
10-12-2008, 11:04 AM
The Rooney's always did well picking up players for the team and its all paying off having the depth to overcome injury so easily.

Preacher
10-12-2008, 12:26 PM
it just makes me shake my head even more at that front line...

Imagine the team if we had a stronger line!

argh...


I just hope Kemo and Stapleton are two of the right answers...

The Duke
10-12-2008, 12:40 PM
linebacker, defensive line and secondary all have great depth. I like william gay, he may become a starter

runningback, receiver, qb and even TE have great depth.

now the oline- they have the 7 million dollar man, essex ( who has done an ok job) and a rookie. it could be better, especially at tackle

who's hartwig backup anyway? all depth charts I 've seen have him alone at center. if he goes down do they put stapleton here and essex/colon at RG?

OneForTheToe
10-12-2008, 12:57 PM
linebacker, defensive line and secondary all have great depth. I like william gay, he may become a starter

runningback, receiver, qb and even TE have great depth.

now the oline- they have the 7 million dollar man, essex ( who has done an ok job) and a rookie. it could be better, especially at tackle

who's hartwig backup anyway? all depth charts I 've seen have him alone at center. if he goes down do they put stapleton here and essex/colon at RG?

Stapleton is the logical choice. But what if Stapleton were to go down? That is the risk of having him start at guard. Who's the emergency center? Remember it was Simmons before he was hurt.

MasterOfPuppets
10-12-2008, 02:19 PM
i wonder why those backups didn't fair so well last year , when it was smith and hampton out of the lineup......:noidea: