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mesaSteeler
08-26-2009, 04:14 PM
Grading the Line: Steelers' Roster Battles Are Starting to Be Settled
http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2009/08/25/grading-the-line-steelers-roster-battles-are-starting-to-be-se/
Posted Aug 25, 2009 10:02AM By JJ Cooper (RSS feed)

Two games into the preseason, the Steelers are a good bit closer to deciding which offensive linemen will be making the 53-man roster, and it's remarkable how much the conventional wisdom has changed from what we thought we knew during the summer.

Kraig Urbik was supposed to battle for a starting job at guard. Instead, he's likely to make the team entirely on the basis of future potential, as he hasn't shown that he's capable yet of contributing to the 2009 Steelers. Guard/tackle Ramon Foster has gone from a little known undrafted free agent to someone whose not only nearly a sure-bet to make the roster, but also someone who could make the 46-man active roster this season. And Doug Legursky has gone from being a practice squad player to a productive fill-in on the first team.

Saturday's second preseason game didn't change a whole lot of those assessments. On second look, the first-team line's blocking wasn't as bad as I initially thought. Max Starks had his second-straight bad game, getting flagged for a holding penalty and also being beaten to the outside on two other plays, but right tackle Willie Colon played close to flawlessly and Trai Essex had a couple of good blocks to go with a quarterback hurry he allowed and a poor block on a one-yard Willie Parker run.

Justin Hartwig looked good in his return as well. He did give up one quarterback hurry, but that came on a play in which Starks was beaten to flush Charlie Batch first.

The most frustrating aspect of Saturday's game was the decision to basically junk the running game for much of the night. Two games into the preseason, we still have no clue if the Steelers can run the ball. In the preseason opener, it was fair to blame it on injuries as No. 1 tailback Willie Parker and No. 3 tailback Mewelde Moore were both out. But against the Redskins, the blame could be set at Bruce Arians' feet. Pittsburgh's tailbacks carried the ball 15 times while Steelers' quarterbacks threw 34 passes. The Steelers will have to decide in two weeks whether Issac Redman is worth a roster spot, but he got only two carries, which doesn't give a whole lot of insight into his ability. It also makes it difficult to make as many insights into the play of the offensive line. The first-team offense was in for four running plays, so it's not possible to make too many judgements on Essex's run blocking.

But we did get a decent look at the players battling for the backup jobs.

Tony Hills took a step toward the practice squad. He was flagged for two penalties, gave up a sack while playing right tackle, was knocked completely off his feet by the smaller Brian Orakpo, was knocked to the ground on another play and had a couple of missed blocks.

Alex Stepanovich doesn't get much playing time as the fourth-team center/third-team guard, but the NFL veteran isn't really making a case to move up. His highlight came when he drove his man back on a third and one that helped Issac Redman pick up a first down, but it was all downhill after that. On the next play he was beaten badly which forced quarterback Mike Reilly to tuck and run. He was then beaten again on another pass play. Considering he was only on the field for 10 snaps, three bad plays is a pretty bad percentage.

Doug Legursky was beaten for a quarterback hurry as well when he struggled to slide over on a line twist, but considering he was asked to block Albert Haynesworth one-on-one and generally managed to survive, it wasn't a bad night overall for him. His worst play actually came as the second-team center when he botched a snap.

Carey Davis has rightfully been slammed for his poor blocking as a fullback, but he did drive DeAngelo Hall three yards into the end zone on Willie Parker's touchdown. On that same play, Limas Sweed filled Hines Ward's normal role by cracking down on a defensive end, handling him well enough to allow Parker to get to the corner.

The Steelers are going to have a difficult decision to make between tight end/fullbacks Sean McHugh and David Johnson. When it comes to blocking as a tight end, Johnson is very impressive. When he hits a man with his hand punch, it jars them. On a three-yard gain by Mike Wallace on a reverse, Johnson found his man and maintained his block for a solid four seconds. If it hadn't been for Tony Hills missing a block on his man, Johnson's block would have sprung Wallace for a long gain. But Johnson is not as good a blocker as McHugh as a fullback. When Johnson tried to lead the way for Justin Vincent on a third and one, he found his assignment and met him in the hole, but he didn't get lower than the linebacker, which meant he was stacked up in the hole and Vincent was stopped for no gain. Making the decision tougher is that the Steelers need the third tight end more as a blocking fullback than as a tight end, but if they decide to keep McHugh, they will be letting go a blocker with much more potential.

A.Q. Shipley is a very solid technician and he did a better job of holding his ground this week, although he also was facing a 4-3 defense where he didn't have a man lined up over his nose all the time. Shipley's strengths and weaknesses right now remind me of Sean Mahan--good against 4-3 defenses where he's asked to use his agility and smarts, but not as good against bigger 3-4 nose tackles.

Urbik had a disappointing night as he struggled to handle backup defensive tacle Kendric Golston. By my count, Urbik was beaten four different times on pass plays--twice for hurries, once for a sack and once on a play where Dennis Dixon got rid of the ball before it mattered. He did have a solid block to spring Rashard Mendenhall for eight yards on a second and seven.

Preacher
08-26-2009, 04:41 PM
Hey El Gonz...

its a shame we didn't conclude it this way about mahan... makes a WHOLE lot of sense... and would have ended debate between us two years ago.

Shipley's strengths and weaknesses right now remind me of Sean Mahan--good against 4-3 defenses where he's asked to use his agility and smarts, but not as good against bigger 3-4 nose tackles.

revefsreleets
08-26-2009, 04:42 PM
The Steelers aren't going to run the ball in the preseason if they believe it's going to be a strength. Also, Batch and Dixon need the work.

Preacher
08-26-2009, 04:44 PM
IMO....

We are moving to a team (have moved) that uses the pass to set up the run. In that situation, we focus on our basics... which now, is the pass.

When you have Ben, Hines, Santo, and the plethora of good receivers behind them, then it makes sense to play that way.

MasterOfPuppets
08-26-2009, 04:49 PM
oh geesh mesa...be careful posting articles from know nothing bloggers from fanhouse.com or you'll get killers panties in a bunch... :doh: i mean if its not speculation or an opinion from a well known writer then its just garbage.

Cheppy
08-26-2009, 04:55 PM
IMO....

We are moving to a team (have moved) that uses the pass to set up the run. In that situation, we focus on our basics... which now, is the pass.

When you have Ben, Hines, Santo, and the plethora of good receivers behind them, then it makes sense to play that way.

One could make an argument that strategy's genesis (for this team of course) was the 05 divisional game against the Colts

BlastFurnace
08-26-2009, 05:45 PM
Great article. Thanks for posting.

mesaSteeler
08-26-2009, 05:46 PM
oh geesh mesa...be careful posting articles from know nothing bloggers from fanhouse.com or you'll get killers panties in a bunch... :doh: i mean if its not speculation or an opinion from a well known writer then its just garbage.

Oh well I'll try and bear up under the strain.

Preacher
08-26-2009, 05:49 PM
One could make an argument that strategy's genesis (for this team of course) was the 05 divisional game against the Colts

I'd say that entire SB run. Especially after we fell short once again the year before.

MasterOfPuppets
08-26-2009, 05:55 PM
Oh well I'll try and bear up under the strain.
ok...just warning you.... i mean they had the nerve to suggest that dixon might miss the rest of preseason...:jawdrop: ... its ok that bouchette suggested the same thing cause he's a pittsburgh writer...:thumbsup:

Separated Shoulder Will Be Costly for Dennis Dixon

Posted Aug 23, 2009 10:56PM By JJ Cooper (RSS feed)


Dennis Dixon's preseason is likely over after he suffered a dislocation of his throwing shoulder in Saturday's loss to the Redskins.

Florio? Fanhouse?

Get that garbage out of here.

His preseason is over? What the hell is Fanhouse?

More blog crap by some reporter that doesn't know crap.


We won't know anything till the team releases new informantion

GBMelBlount
08-26-2009, 07:38 PM
Hey El Gonz...

its a shame we didn't conclude it this way about mahan... makes a WHOLE lot of sense... and would have ended debate between us two years ago.

Shipley's strengths and weaknesses right now remind me of Sean Mahan--good against 4-3 defenses where he's asked to use his agility and smarts, but not as good against bigger 3-4 nose tackles.

I think it's been discussed a good bit over the last two years that Mahan had a tendency to be overpowered by the bigger, stronger defensive linemen.

Preacher
08-26-2009, 07:39 PM
I think it's been discussed a good bit over the last two years that Mahan had a tendency to be overpowered by the bigger, stronger defensive linemen.

True...now that I remember the discussion, it was also as much about Mahan being a bit better in the pass game and Hartwig being a bit better in the run game... or something like that.

Psyychoward86
08-26-2009, 07:46 PM
When Tony Hills got lifted a foot and a half in the air by Brian Orakpo, a part of me died.

austinfrench76
08-26-2009, 09:25 PM
2 Pre Season games in and he's referring to Shipley as Mahan?! I wouldn't say all that!

Preacher
08-26-2009, 10:11 PM
When Tony Hills got lifted a foot and a half in the air by Brian Orakpo, a part of me died.

:chuckle:

Well, with Shipley, Urbik, Legurskey, and Essex or Stapleton all probably staying on the 53 man roster, I don't know if Hills will even make it.

Steeldude
08-27-2009, 12:32 AM
no surprise in hills' poor play.

Steelers & I
08-27-2009, 02:06 AM
The most frustrating aspect of Saturday's game was the decision to basically junk the running game for much of the night. Two games into the preseason, we still have no clue if the Steelers can run the ball. In the preseason opener, it was fair to blame it on injuries as No. 1 tailback Willie Parker and No. 3 tailback Mewelde Moore were both out. But against the Redskins, the blame could be set at Bruce Arians' feet. Pittsburgh's tailbacks carried the ball 15 times while Steelers' quarterbacks threw 34 passes. The Steelers will have to decide in two weeks whether Issac Redman is worth a roster spot, but he got only two carries, which doesn't give a whole lot of insight into his ability. It also makes it difficult to make as many insights into the play of the offensive line. The first-team offense was in for four running plays, so it's not possible to make too many judgements on Essex's run blocking.

You watch your tongue Mister. Not in this forum will you say such things. :duel:

Preacher
08-27-2009, 02:09 AM
You watch your tongue Mister. Not in this forum will you say such things. :duel:

:doh:

You really just don't get it do you. Do you not see ANY difference in that article and what people like mmalone spew on this site?

Steelers & I
08-27-2009, 02:22 AM
:doh:

You really just don't get it do you. Do you not see ANY difference in that article and what people like mmalone spew on this site?


Believe it or not I do get it. I'm tired reading posts from BOTH sides of the Bruce Arians debate. While you and others say that the Arians bashers are posting nothing more than the same ole, same ole, which is definitely true, I'll contend that the Arians supporters haven't added anything new and exciting in way of his defense. It's all repeat material whether you're bashing or defending. So yes, it is a bit tiring but oh well, no one should be able to control another persons posts so long as they follow the forum guidelines. I've yet to see a forum rule that bans Arians bashing material.

mmalone
08-27-2009, 04:54 AM
Believe it or not I do get it. I'm tired reading posts from BOTH sides of the Bruce Arians debate. While you and others say that the Arians bashers are posting nothing more than the same ole, same ole, which is definitely true, I'll contend that the Arians supporters haven't added anything new and exciting in way of his defense. It's all repeat material whether you're bashing or defending. So yes, it is a bit tiring but oh well, no one should be able to control another persons posts so long as they follow the forum guidelines. I've yet to see a forum rule that bans Arians bashing material.

I tried for a while to get some insight on positive arians play calling from all my bashing. :banging: but noone has anything good to say about arians deceptive play calling. usually when the plays are good its a ben scramble play. i think those calls are 7/east/7/west/7/south/7 spin/7/duck/hut/hut its hard to hear from my tv when they call those but they are a popular call. :toofunny:
.

pancake
08-27-2009, 05:15 AM
I miss Faneca....

steelwalls
08-27-2009, 05:36 AM
I miss Faneca....

I don't.... Faneca made his decision and as good as he was, personly I'm a bit glad he's gone to be honest, (as I said when he left) I got tired of his crying at the beginning of every year, again, IMO that's not Steelers football.

Back to our current O-line. If our rookie/s doesnt pan out this year I'm not loosing any sleep... Honestly I'm personaly more worried about Starks than anyone else...

KeiselPower99
08-27-2009, 08:57 AM
I think Capizzi makes it and Hills goes to the PS if he isnt picked up by someone else.

Steel Head
08-27-2009, 09:18 AM
"Carey Davis has rightfully been slammed for his poor blocking as a fullback, but he did drive DeAngelo Hall three yards into the end zone on Willie Parker's touchdown"

wow Davis was able to block a 5'10" 180 lb. corner, that's impressive :rolleyes:

mmalone
08-27-2009, 09:29 AM
"Carey Davis has rightfully been slammed for his poor blocking as a fullback, but he did drive DeAngelo Hall three yards into the end zone on Willie Parker's touchdown"

wow Davis was able to block a 5'10" 180 lb. corner, that's impressive :rolleyes:

he should have been laying on his back.

Dino 6 Rings
08-27-2009, 09:36 AM
I hope we see the other backs get lots of action this week, Summers, Redman, Vincent and what not. Especially with McHugh hurt, we need Summers to step up into the Full Back role.

mmalone
08-27-2009, 09:38 AM
I hope we see the other backs get lots of action this week, Summers, Redman, Vincent and what not. Especially with McHugh hurt, we need Summers to step up into the Full Back role.

they say he is out again. hamstring.

truesteelerfan
08-27-2009, 10:10 AM
I wish that hammy would heal for Summers. I'd love to see him get some reps in at least on special teams, after we drafted him, he looked pretty competent in that role. I'd like to keep him on our roster based on potential for at least a year, hate to see him cut because of an injury kept him from showing off what he could bring to us.

mmalone
08-27-2009, 10:16 AM
I wish that hammy would heal for Summers. I'd love to see him get some reps in at least on special teams, after we drafted him, he looked pretty competent in that role. I'd like to keep him on our roster based on potential for at least a year, hate to see him cut because of an injury kept him from showing off what he could bring to us.

maybe this will give them more time to play redman as a blocker and see what he does with that. we know he has a powerful run game.

SteelMember
08-27-2009, 10:45 AM
"Carey Davis has rightfully been slammed for his poor blocking as a fullback, but he did drive DeAngelo Hall three yards into the end zone on Willie Parker's touchdown"

wow Davis was able to block a 5'10" 180 lb. corner, that's impressive :rolleyes:

Very true. MeAngelo shys away from that type of contact anyway. You know, the physical type. If the ball isn't in the air, he isn't in the play.

I thought Sweed's seal block was much better, and against bigger competition.

I'm a little bummed about Urbik, but he's not going anywhere. Hills on the other hand may be out the door. I'd give it to Capizzi at this point.

Steeldude
08-27-2009, 10:52 AM
we know he has a powerful run game

we do?

mmalone
08-27-2009, 10:57 AM
we do?

he looked pretty strong in all his runs... strong legs and he doesnt look to be shy about wacking people.... thats strong no? from what we've seen.

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-27-2009, 02:00 PM
Hey El Gonz...

its a shame we didn't conclude it this way about mahan... makes a WHOLE lot of sense... and would have ended debate between us two years ago.

Shipley's strengths and weaknesses right now remind me of Sean Mahan--good against 4-3 defenses where he's asked to use his agility and smarts, but not as good against bigger 3-4 nose tackles.

Preacher, I have been saying since before last season that Mahan wasnt strong against defenses with a man over him. That is why he struggled against NT's in our Division. Here is a quote of mine from Aug 9th of last year:

I'm honestly objective and dont place the entire problem from last season on Mahan, but my analysis of his play honestly puts him in the bottom quarter of centers in the league.....we can do better.

He played fine last night in the limited action, but a 4-3 plays to his strengths at C while a 3-4 plays to his game at G. He isnt strong playing with a man over him.

I never blamed or scapegoated Mahan for the play of the entire line. I just objectively analyzed him as the weak link and unable to handle NT's like Shaun Rogers or Jamaal Williams..........who Hartwig handled quite well in week 17 and the playoffs last year.

OneForTheToe
08-27-2009, 02:17 PM
I never blamed or scapegoated Mahan for the play of the entire line. I just objectively analyzed him as the weak link and unable to handle NT's like Shaun Rogers or Jamaal Williams..........who Hartwig handled quite well in week 17 and the playoffs last year.


I just hope Legusky can develop into the next guy that can do just that.

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-27-2009, 02:19 PM
I just hope Legusky can develop into the next guy that can do just that.

Yeah, that would be nice since it doesnt look like Stapleton will develop into that mauler in the middle that we need.

BKAnthem
08-27-2009, 07:27 PM
I'll say it again...the arrogance of the front office in ignoring what everyone else sees...the O Line needs help..and a new O line coach....

Steelers & I
08-28-2009, 04:59 AM
I'll say it again...the arrogance of the front office in ignoring what everyone else sees...the O Line needs help..and a new O line coach....

I agree that the O-Line coach should be replaced.

I think that the Steelers front office has decided that an upper echelon offensive line isn't worth paying 30 or maybe 40 million dollars more than they are paying the average offensive line that they have in place now. I mean sure, there are better offensive linemen out there but you'll pay a hefty price for them and do you really get a return for them? Are they so much better than what the Steelers currently have in place?

I wouldn't want to see the Steelers spend the type of money that it would take to field 1st round draft choices or top tier free agents at the offensive line position. We could definitely kiss our #1 defense goodbye if they start allocating that type of cap space to offensive linemen.

BKAnthem
08-28-2009, 03:49 PM
I agree that the O-Line coach should be replaced.

I think that the Steelers front office has decided that an upper echelon offensive line isn't worth paying 30 or maybe 40 million dollars more than they are paying the average offensive line that they have in place now. I mean sure, there are better offensive linemen out there but you'll pay a hefty price for them and do you really get a return for them? Are they so much better than what the Steelers currently have in place?

I wouldn't want to see the Steelers spend the type of money that it would take to field 1st round draft choices or top tier free agents at the offensive line position. We could definitely kiss our #1 defense goodbye if they start allocating that type of cap space to offensive linemen.

I just think if they drafted more for need...i mean, did we really need a D lineman in the 1st round and 2 cornerbacks? When there were so many glaring holes at Guard, Tackle, and a center prospect to develop not named shipley. I am becoming a fan of legursky though...he seems to be the only O Lineman moving forward on running plays.....Mike Munchak (TITANS) I think is the best O line coach in the NFL, any one of his assistants available?

X-Terminator
08-28-2009, 04:10 PM
I just think if they drafted more for need...i mean, did we really need a D lineman in the 1st round and 2 cornerbacks? When there were so many glaring holes at Guard, Tackle, and a center prospect to develop not named shipley. I am becoming a fan of legursky though...he seems to be the only O Lineman moving forward on running plays.....Mike Munchak (TITANS) I think is the best O line coach in the NFL, any one of his assistants available?

Um, hello? Aging D-line anyone? Hampton, Keisel and Smith aren't getting any younger. So yeah, they did need to draft a D-lineman.

As for the OL coach, Zierlein gets one more season to right the ship, and if he doesn't, he will be looking for a new job after the season, championship or not. You can't continue to hold the offense back and risk shortening Ben's career with Swiss cheese for an OL.