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mesaSteeler
08-23-2009, 12:46 AM
JOHN PERROTTO | Steelers have done little to answer offensive line questions
By JOHN PERROTTO
jperrotto@piratesreport.com

PITTSBURGH — The biggest question mark surrounding the Steelers at the end of training camp last year was their offensive line.

But even though quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 46 times, the second-highest total in the NFL, the Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl.

When training camp came to a close this past Thursday, the biggest question mark again was the offensive line.

That was primarily because right guard Darnell Stapleton needed right knee surgery less than a week into camp.

Fifth-year pro Trail Essex steps in at right guard until Stapleton recovers, which likely won’t be until some time after the Sept. 10 regular-season opener against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.

That gives coach Mike Tomlin at least some cause for concern, although he liked how Essex fared against Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett in the preseason opener.

“I think the jury is still out on Trai,” Tomlin said. “I think so far, so good, but it’s an incomplete body of work like everyone else’s is right now. I like his attention to detail. I like the way he is competing. I thought he represented himself quite well against Doc, who, of course, is one of the premier three techniques in football. Every week is going to provide those kinds of challenges for him and that’s what comes with playing guard.”

With the exception of Stapleton, the Steelers have the rest of their starting offensive line back from last season in left tackle Max Starks, left guard Chris Kemoeatu, center Justin Hartwig and right tackle Willie Colon. The Steelers also have high hopes for guard Craig Urbik, their third-round draft pick from Wisconsin.

“We’re one of the youngest position groups on the team, but having that year under our belts speaks volumes,” Starks said. “The offensive line is a unique position. You need chemistry. You need experience. This offensive line is a very close-knit unit. We have set a lot of goals for ourselves.

“There are some things we have to clean up from last year, so we’re just taking it one day at a time and hoping to get better and better.”

Polamalu Jr.: Former Steeler Anthony Smith is No. 2 on Green Bay’s depth chart at strong safety behind incumbent starter Atari Bigby.

However, Smith is expected to play a key reserve role for the Packers after signing with them as a free agent in the offseason, particularly since Green Bay is switching to a 3-4 defense. The Packers’ new defensive coordinator is Dom Capers, who originally brought the 3-4 to the Steelers when he held the same job with Pittsburgh.

Smith served as the dime back in the Packers’ exhibition opener against the Browns and had a sack and an interception.

“That’s what Troy (Polamalu) played in Pittsburgh,” Smith told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “We do a lot of blitzing in that position. He’s like a cover linebacker. He can cover and run support. (Capers) will use it against the West Coast offense and in two-minute situations.”

The job suits 6-foot,

204-pound Smith, who was noted as a fierce hitter during his time with the Steelers.

“It’s all about position and leverage on the ball and what kind of pop you have, and I have a lot of pop,” Smith said. “Being so small, some people don’t consider me a strong safety, but I’m strong enough to support the run.”

Time for Lynch: When Buffalo meets the Steelers on Saturday night in a preseason game at Heinz Field, look for the Bills to give running back Marshawn Lynch plenty of touches.

Lynch must sit out the first three games of the regular season after being suspended by the NFL for violating the personal conduct penalty following two arrests in a nine-month span.

However, the Bills have been getting Lynch as much action with the first team in practice and games as the two backs who will replace him, Fred Jackson and Dominique Rhodes.

Lynch has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons in the league.

“I think Marshawn still needs to get his reps even though he won’t be there the first couple of weeks,” Bills quarterback Trent Edwards told the Buffalo News. “He’s still a valuable part of this offense for the majority of the season. Once his suspension is done, he needs to come in and play at a high level for us.

Withering White: There will be less of Titans running back LenDale White when Tennessee faces the Steelers on opening night, and that could also mean less of him in short-yardage situations.

White dropped more than 30 pounds in the offseason as he reported to training camp at 228. While the Titans wanted White to lose weight, they are worried he might have slimmed down too much and that could affect his performances in short-yardage situations.

In 2008, White scored touchdowns on 11 of his 16 carries from the opponents’ 3-yard line and in, but Chris Johnson might now get more of those carries this season. However, the Titans do like that White has added a step.

“He’s moving around better,” quarterback Kerry Collins told The Tennessean. “He’s hitting the holes faster, getting through the holes faster. I’ve noticed a big difference in the passing game, just his route running and his ability to catch the ball and run with it. I think it’s better because of the weight loss.”

arge5809
08-23-2009, 02:14 AM
No more Len-whale White?!?!?

Steeldude
08-23-2009, 02:50 AM
While the Titans wanted White to lose weight, they are worried he might have slimmed down too much and that could affect his performances in short-yardage situations.


lol...whether he is fat or thin, he is still too easy to bring down.

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-23-2009, 11:15 AM
Come on. Starks looked great at LT again last night. :rolleyes:

Sure he had guys running around him like a road pylon, but he didnt give up any "sacks allowed".............after all, that is the statistic that most judge O linemen on anyways isnt it? :noidea:

Steel Head
08-23-2009, 11:24 AM
Come on. Starks looked great at LT again last night. :rolleyes:

Sure he had guys running around him like a road pylon, but he didnt give up any "sacks allowed".............after all, that is the statistic that most judge O linemen on anyways isnt it? :noidea:

LOL, great post

I hate it when people bust out the "sacks allowed" stat which btw would be triple what it was if Big Ben wasn't the best at elluding sacks