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mesaSteeler
08-24-2009, 08:07 AM
Harris: Veteran addition Ratliff making plays
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_639714.html#
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, August 24, 2009

Keiwan Ratliff didn't quite know what he was getting into when he signed with the Steelers.

A free agent, Ratliff thought he knew everything there was to know about the Steelers, having played against them last season when he intercepted a pass as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

"It's amazing," Ratliff said. "You always hear how good this defense is and the things they do, but you really have no idea what all goes into it until you actually go through a practice and sit through one of Coach (Dick) LeBeau's meetings and see all the different ways to blitz and different ways to run a simple Cover 2 and the ways to run a fire zone. It's a lot harder than I thought."

Ratliff gives the Steelers veteran insurance behind Ike Taylor at right cornerback and Deshea Townsend at nickel back. He call also fill in at safety, making him a major upgrade over Fernando Bryant, who wasn't retained after last season.

Ratliff made what's known as an instinctive football play Saturday night against Washington when he intercepted a Todd Collins pass late in the second quarter and ran it back 10 yards to the Redskins' 35.

"I was playing Cover 2," Ratliff said. "It was late in the first half, and we knew they were trying to get in field goal range. Nothing came to the flat, so I was able to let my instincts take over.

"Earlier in camp, I may have just stayed in my zone and not tried to take a risk like that."

Ratliff has been turning up around the ball quite a bit recently.

He made a textbook interception during red-zone drills on the final day of training camp. A few days earlier, he honed in on a long pass, beat the intended receiver to the spot and made a diving interception.

Ratliff has been involved in too many plays for them to be considered isolated incidents. His understanding of the defense has raised his confidence level to make even more plays.

"After a time, you get comfortable," he said. "The best thing for a defensive player is to get comfortable. Once you get comfortable, you can play. It becomes second nature. Now that I know the defense and it's second nature, when I hear the calls, it's a lot easier to execute."

As for his knack for coming up with the ball, Ratliff said his playmaking ability is one of the key assets that sold the Steelers on him.

"'That's what I pride myself on being able to do," said Ratliff, who has five interceptions and five fumble recoveries despite making only 12 career starts. "As you can see, I'm not a big corner (5-foot-11, 188 pounds), not a real physical guy, not real fast. But when I'm on the field, I try to make plays. As long as you can make plays, you can always find a spot on somebody's team."

And as long as Ratliff can play multiple positions effectively, he increases his value to the Steelers.

"They kind of threw me in the fire early, making me play a lot of positions," he said. "Corner, nickel, safety just about every spot in the secondary. It's actually helped me a lot because you know what everybody's doing on every play."

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

lamberts-lost-tooth
08-24-2009, 08:31 AM
I wasnt aware that Ratliff could play Safety. Gotta keep wondering about the possibilty that the FO saves money by cutting Townsend and going with the cheaper, younger, and better CB. :noidea:

Steel Head
08-24-2009, 09:05 AM
I wasnt aware that Ratliff could play Safety. Gotta keep wondering about the possibilty that the FO saves money by cutting Townsend and going with the cheaper, younger, and better CB. :noidea:

or keep them both because they are both good

wootawnee
08-24-2009, 10:30 AM
Deshea is not going anywhere....He is a big part of the catalyst of the team..........Besides he still brings it.......Other than that Ratliff was the dud who picked off Ben in the Colts game before the half..........

lamberts-lost-tooth
08-24-2009, 10:43 AM
or keep them both because they are both good

With Ratliff now signed as a vet backup...we could clear up almost 3 mil in salary cap by cutting an older backup CB.

Just trying to look at it from a FO point of view

Steel Head
08-24-2009, 10:53 AM
With Ratliff now signed as a vet backup...we could clear up almost 3 mil in salary cap by cutting an older backup CB.

Just trying to look at it from a FO point of view

or let Townsend play out his last season and retire on his own terms and help us win another Super Bowl like he did last year (he won the Dallas game and had that huge pick in the AFC champ. game)

I wouldn't be surprised if Townsend became a d-backs coach for us

We are currently under the cap right? Why do we need to clear up more space? to re-sign one of Clark, Keisel, Reed or Hampton? We could probably afford to re-sign 1 of them without having to cut Townsend

lamberts-lost-tooth
08-24-2009, 12:15 PM
or let Townsend play out his last season and retire on his own terms and help us win another Super Bowl like he did last year (he won the Dallas game and had that huge pick in the AFC champ. game)

I wouldn't be surprised if Townsend became a d-backs coach for us

We are currently under the cap right? Why do we need to clear up more space? to re-sign one of Clark, Keisel, Reed or Hampton? We could probably afford to re-sign 1 of them without having to cut Townsend

Free up space for exactly the reasons you are talking about...though, I have to admit to being a little biased about re-signing or retaining older players. If you draft correctly, the natural thing to do is let older players go when they want that last "big payday".
Ratliff is an upgrade over Townsend...amd personally I would rather let Townsend o then to lose a future player off the PS.
It probably wont happpen...but all emotional ties aside ... that is the way that I would handle it

tony hipchest
08-24-2009, 12:38 PM
LLT you make a valid point and we are going to lose 1-2 valuable players in the defensive backfield, so i have been thinking alot about this. i asked jim wexell- with log jam @ s/cb and his foote type backup price, any chance townsend is a late cut, or would that be against the "rooney way"

and got this response-"The Rooney Way" is to let the coach cut w/o worry of salary. Townsend's the nickel back, easily.

so it looks like money will not play a factor and ultimately its tomlins final call on who can contribute most on the field (not most towards the cap).

also this unrelated tidbit for draftnicks-

For those who follow the draft, Steelers were just at Baylor scouting MLB Joe Pawelek, Scout.com's No. 47 overall prospect.

Steel Head
08-24-2009, 12:48 PM
LLT you make a valid point and we are going to lose 1-2 valuable players in the defensive backfield, so i have been thinking alot about this. i asked jim wexell-

and got this response-

so it looks like money will not play a factor and ultimately its tomlins final call on who can contribute most on the field (not most towards the cap).


thanks for posting

and that makes sense to me

Psyychoward86
08-24-2009, 12:59 PM
Even with Ratliff, i want Deshea on the team. I'd rather have Anthony Madison X'd out, even though i've appreciated his special teams play.

lamberts-lost-tooth
08-24-2009, 01:05 PM
LLT you make a valid point and we are going to lose 1-2 valuable players in the defensive backfield, so i have been thinking alot about this. i asked jim wexell-

and got this response-

so it looks like money will not play a factor and ultimately its tomlins final call on who can contribute most on the field (not most towards the cap).

also this unrelated tidbit for draftnicks-

Thanks Tony...appreciate the insight.
:thumbsup:

mmalone
08-24-2009, 01:41 PM
Even with Ratliff, i want Deshea on the team. I'd rather have Anthony Madison X'd out, even though i've appreciated his special teams play.

i think the two of them x'd out will open up even more cash....

Fire Haley
08-24-2009, 02:24 PM
I think we have to keep him. After Townsend/Ike/Gay...there's not much at corner.
I haven't been paying much attention to the rookies though - is anyone standing out?

Steel Head
08-24-2009, 02:27 PM
I think we have to keep him. After Townsend/Ike/Gay...there's not much at corner.
I haven't been paying much attention to the rookies though - is anyone standing out?

Keenan Lewis is awesome. He is very physical and always around the ball

Burnett looks pretty good in coverage

So they are pretty loaded at corner. Supposedly Ratliff can also play free safety as can Townsend so maybe they can get away with keeping the extra corners by making them the backup FS also

wootawnee
08-26-2009, 12:08 AM
This is his 3rd team(ratliff)......That is an issue with me......Teams sign players that they want around, not let them walk..........Deshea is a huge part of the team.......When you mention names like Mike Wagner, J.T. Thomas, Glen Edwards, you gotta mention Deshea.....He has been there done that.....Like them.....Let him walk when he wants to retire......That is the old Steeler way.......And new(Farrier, Ward, Smith)....

tony hipchest
08-26-2009, 12:16 AM
This is his 3rd team(ratliff)......That is an issue with me......Teams sign players that they want around, not let them walk..........

this is also ryan clarks 3rd team. :noidea:

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-26-2009, 01:51 AM
this is also ryan clarks 3rd team. :noidea:

Yeah, and James Harrison was cut 3 times by the Steelers and 1 time by the Ravens before making the roster.........so what the heck does it mean??

I like the idea that Ratliff and Townsend can play some safety and can see this being Townsends final season as a Steeler, so hopefully both stay and in 2010 we can see:
Taylor
Gay
Lewis
Burnett
Ratliff

as a solid group of CB's. With Fox, Woods, Frazier, Carter, Lewis, Burnett playing kick coverages I am fine with letting Madison go. I am sure Lewis and Burnett can take up the gunner spot for him.