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mesaSteeler
12-03-2008, 06:45 AM
Steelers' Starks paying dividends
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer
http://www.observer-reporter.com/OR/Story/12-3-Steelers-Starks-Smith
dlolley@observer-reporter.com

PITTSBURGH - When the Steelers placed the transition tag on offensive tackle Max Starks, many wondered about the logic of spending nearly $7 million on a backup.

Turns out director of football operations Kevin Colbert knew what he was doing.

Left tackle Marvel Smith has missed the past seven games with a back injury and Starks has admirably filled in, helping the Steelers to a 5-2 record in those games.

With Smith scheduled to miss his eighth consecutive game Sunday against Dallas (8-4) at Heinz Field, the spotlight again will be on Starks.

He'll be matched against Dallas outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who leads the NFL with 15 sacks.

"Max has done a nice job. I think that he has been in for seven or so games for us at left tackle," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "For him, I think that a big measure of where he is will be how he competes and plays against a guy like DeMarcus Ware."

Ware had three sacks in a Thanksgiving Day victory over Seattle, and all three came against All-Pro left tackle Walter Jones. Ware did it despite not playing most of the fourth quarter after hyperextending his knee.

The Steelers (9-3) expect Ware to play.

"He is without question the best pass rusher that we have seen this year and probably will see," said Tomlin. "He is a special player."

The Steelers' offensive line has allowed 36 sacks this season, but just one in their past two games.

But the line will face perhaps its biggest test against Dallas' 3-4 defense. The Cowboys have 40 sacks this season, second in the league to Pittsburgh's 42.

Because Ware has one-third of those, the Steelers will pay close attention to him.

"He moves around in their base defense," said Tomlin. "He is primarily the open-side outside linebacker and Greg Ellis is the tight end-side outside linebacker. In their sub-package football, you will primarily see him on the offense's left side. They are capable of moving him around but he has done quite a bit of damage from the offense's left side."

While Starks played well in Smith's absence, Tomlin is hopeful Smith will be healthy enough to play at some point this season.

Smith missed four regular season games and the playoffs last season with a back problem that required surgery to remove part of his disc.

He was feeling better in the offseason and training camp, but has not played since an Oct. 5 win at Jacksonville. Smith experienced numbness in his toes and lower back pain, the same problem he had last year.

"Marvel is a veteran player; a high-quality person and player," said Tomlin, who added the team is not prepared to put Smith on injured reserve. "If we have an opportunity to get a contribution from him as we move forward, then we are going to try to pursue that if we can."

Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

tyler289
12-03-2008, 08:06 AM
Starks is going to have to on on his a-game on Sunday. Ware is just as good as Harrison.

Hopefully Arians and Tomlin use a TE to chip him and keep a RB in to help block.

markymarc
12-04-2008, 05:55 AM
Even with Starks starting at this point, there is no way you can tell me that Colbert was smart about the whole transition tag. Sorry not buying it. No question Starks will have to play at a very high level on Sunday because Ware is going to bring it.

revefsreleets
12-04-2008, 09:30 AM
No way. The FO has no clue what they are doing. Only the fans that post here actually know what's going on. Starks was a waste of money. Tomlin and Arians need fired. We nee to run the ball 80 times a game. Ben should ony pass two times a game, and those should be 1/2 step drops. Etc, etc, etc...

steelreserve
12-04-2008, 11:05 AM
I agree it's good we have Starks around -- what with the injuries on the line and all -- but no way was it worth $7 million. For that amount of money, we could've gotten TWO free agent linemen who were at least decent.

El-Gonzo Jackson
12-04-2008, 11:10 AM
I was a fan of letting Starks go and using that $$ to find another free agent OT, getting one in the draft, or a free agent D lineman.

He has played adequately in relief of Smith, but still hope we replace him in the offseason. Not as good of a run blocker as Smith and still struggles with speed rushers.

I still wish we had let him go and could have instead drafted Anthony Collins in the 3rd round and picked up Willie Anderson instead of the Ravens getting him. I'd be just as happy with Collins, Anderson or Essex at LT and have that $7mil to do something else.

markymarc
12-05-2008, 06:10 AM
I was a fan of letting Starks go and using that $$ to find another free agent OT, getting one in the draft, or a free agent D lineman.

I am sure this will definitely happen in the off season.

El-Gonzo Jackson
12-05-2008, 08:18 AM
I am sure this will definitely happen in the off season.

Dont count on it. I have a feeling the Steelers will offer Starks a contract and he will be around for another 4-5 mediocre seasons.

revefsreleets
12-05-2008, 05:16 PM
If we have a deep playoff run or (and I hate to even type these words) win the Super Bowl, the 7 million will be worth every penny.

markymarc
12-05-2008, 07:51 PM
Dont count on it. I have a feeling the Steelers will offer Starks a contract and he will be around for another 4-5 mediocre seasons.

I just believe they are still bitter how the whole transition tag project worked out. Me personally I don't want Starks back. He is not the answer at LT. I could see the FO saving their money for players like Kemo, Essex and Colon.

RoethlisBURGHer
12-05-2008, 08:37 PM
I'm glad we had him.

We could have had this for an offensive line without him:

Essex-Kemo-Hartwig-Stapleton-Colon

And for whoever said save money for Essex, Kemo, and Colon...I won't argue with resigning Kemoeatu he's played well in his replacment of Faneca. However Essex isn't going to stick around and Colon is garbage at RT and I don't think he'd make a good RG either.

markymarc
12-05-2008, 09:10 PM
And for whoever said save money for Essex, Kemo, and Colon...I won't argue with resigning Kemoeatu he's played well in his replacment of Faneca. However Essex isn't going to stick around and Colon is garbage at RT and I don't think he'd make a good RG either.

That's funny how you state Colon is garbage at RT. Like it or not Colon is our 2nd best tackle on this team right behind Smith. Actually I could easily see Essex sticking around especially after Starks leaves.

El-Gonzo Jackson
12-06-2008, 12:51 AM
No more whiskey for you little man. Anyways, am i the only one who realizes that MAX STARKS STARTED EVERY GAME DURING OUR SUPERBOWL YEAR? And our passing and running game were phenomenal that year. I dont see that as much of a fluke.

Yes, and you are one of the few that remembers how he struggled with speed rushers the following season, looked half-hearted in run blocking and proceeded to lose his RT position the year after that.

I've been watching the O line and D-line play all season. I replay games and rewind plays. Starks was terrible in the preseason and was borderline the 4th best OT on the team. He has improved, but still looks like he falls asleep on plays and moves like a clumsy oaf, rather than looking like he "wants to" block the defender more than the defender wants to make the tackle.

He's been a good insurance policy, albeit very expensive. Bengals Rookie Anthony Collins looks just as good, if not better than Starks. The kid kept Harrison without a sack and he looks like he is working hard to keep the spot. We could have drafted him instead of Bruce Davis.

markymarc
12-06-2008, 02:22 PM
Yes, and you are one of the few that remembers how he struggled with speed rushers the following season, looked half-hearted in run blocking and proceeded to lose his RT position the year after that.

I've been watching the O line and D-line play all season. I replay games and rewind plays. Starks was terrible in the preseason and was borderline the 4th best OT on the team. He has improved, but still looks like he falls asleep on plays and moves like a clumsy oaf, rather than looking like he "wants to" block the defender more than the defender wants to make the tackle.

He's been a good insurance policy, albeit very expensive. Bengals Rookie Anthony Collins looks just as good, if not better than Starks. The kid kept Harrison without a sack and he looks like he is working hard to keep the spot. We could have drafted him instead of Bruce Davis.

Very good post and dead on about Starks. You are right in that Anthony Collins looks very solid and could be a great OL for the Bungles. The other thing when people talk about Starks and how he started on the super bowl OL team, but let's not forget that line still gave up quite a few sacks. It was a good OL, but not perfect and that includes Starks. He has always struggled with speed rushers and does not seem to be improving blocking them to this day.

BozMan
12-06-2008, 05:26 PM
Let's also not forget that Starks became the starter during the 2005 season after the FO failed to re-sign Oliver Ross after 2004. The initial plan was to have Starks and Ross compete for the starting spot during the 2005 training camp. But then Ross left, and Starks became the starter by default.

Then Starks lost the starting job in a competition with Willie Colon during the 2007 TC. Colon hasn't been that stellar either.

Regardless of whether or not Starks is resigned, we desperately need to invest some early draft picks on OTs. No more trying to scrape by with late round discounts.

Steelers Since '75
12-06-2008, 09:29 PM
Let's look at the big picture under Tomlin... he strengthened the linebacking core in his first draft (trolls: Woodley in the 2nd > Timmons in the 1st... none of us have a clue what Davis will become). In his 2nd year all of the NFL jumps on every line man they can get... many teams reaching... so what does Tomlin do, draft the best player available and pick up two very good offensive weapons (trolls: just because they don't produce in year one doesn't make them a bust... try thinking long term). Now I feel that in year three of the draft you will see a lot of teams try and draft offensive weapons... Tomlin and the FO swoop in and draft many OL/DL in the draft. We will see how it plays out... so far I like Tomlin and how he has improved our team.

markymarc
12-07-2008, 11:59 AM
so far I like Tomlin and how he has improved our team.

Tomlin has done an excellent job in getting this team ready week in and week out.