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mesaSteeler
08-26-2009, 11:06 PM
Steelers' Harrison pushing Starks to be better
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_640245.html#
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, August 27, 2009

Left tackle Max Starks didn't apologize to Ben Roethlisberger for injuring the Steelers quarterback's right foot after stepping on the back of it.

"No need," Roethlisberger said Wednesday.

Indeed, that wasn't just anybody that pushed Starks back into Roethlisberger near the end of the Steelers' final practice of training camp last Thursday. James Harrison, who bull-rushed Starks during an 11-on-11 drills, is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

If what happened to Roethlisberger, who has a bruised Achilles heel but will play Saturday against the Buffalo Bills, is the downside to Starks getting a steady dose of Harrison, there's also an upside.

Going mano a mano with Harrison on a regular basis is perhaps the best preparation Starks could get for his all-important job of protecting Roethlisberger's blind side.

"It makes me more acute because practicing against him, you have to always be on your toes," said Starks, who started the final 14 games at left tackle last season and signed a four-year contract during the offseason. "You get to game day, and you've been on your toes three days straight going against James. And now, bam, you get into a game, and it's like there's nothing this guy can throw at me that James hasn't already done to me repeatedly in practice."

Or in games to opposing left tackles.

Harrison set a Steelers single-season record with 16 sacks last season.

"Any time you go against the Defensive Player of the Year and the things he brings to the table, he will make anybody better, whether it's a back, tight end or tackle," Roethlisberger said. "I know if you ask Max, he will tell you every day he has to go against James, it's a challenge."

Yeah, just a little bit.

What makes Harrison even more difficult for Starks to handle -- and most left tackles, for that matter -- is that he's 6-foot tall. Starks is 6-8, making it difficult to offset the natural advantage Harrison has in getting leverage, as Harrison did when he drove the 345-pound tackle back into Roethlisberger.

"Having to go against a guy that's shorter, obviously, that makes me focus more on my technique and what I have to do in order to ward off a defender," Starks said. "He has all the components you look for in a great pass rusher, so he's going to give you a multitude of different moves."

Fortunately for Starks, he's used to adjusting.

He played right tackle during the first half of his career with the Steelers and started there in 2005-06.

The sixth-year veteran lost his starting job to Willie Colon in 2007 but proved to be an invaluable reserve. That was particularly true when back problems sidelined starting left tackle Marvel Smith at the end of the 2007 season and for most of last year.

That Starks never put himself before the team after losing his starting job -- and the work he did while starting the last 14 games of the 2008 season at left tackle -- convinced the Steelers that they should include the former Florida standout in their long-term plans.

Starks got an early wedding present in June when he and the Steelers agreed on a four-year, $26.3 million contract that includes $10 million in guaranteed money. Starks, 27, signed the contract just a couple of days before he got married.

The deal allows him to stay with the team that took him in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, though sometimes, that may not seem like such a bargain. Not with Harrison lining up opposite him in practice.

Starks, however, always has been a glass-half-full sort of guy, so he looks at practice as a way of improving his game.

"Max is getting better than he has been in previous years," Harrison said. "Different guys present different challenges."

None more so than Harrison, as Starks can attest.

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

(Let's hope Ben survives while Starks is learning. - mesa)

steelreserve
08-26-2009, 11:34 PM
Good. Kick his ass until he decides to start blocking on every play. That's the way to do it. :thumbsup:

Steeldude
08-27-2009, 12:28 AM
And now, bam, you get into a game, and it's like there's nothing this guy can throw at me that James hasn't already done to me repeatedly in practice

then why doesn't it show in games? or maybe starks means, "hey, this guy manhandles me like harrison does all week".

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-27-2009, 02:06 PM
I would think a guy in his 6th season who made the average salary of the top 5 O linemen in the NFL last season...............would be able to push himself to be better. :kick:

Instead he got worked by Calais Campbell and Philip Daniels the past couple weeks. :doh:

Steelboy84
08-27-2009, 02:13 PM
"Going mano a mano with Harrison on a regular basis is perhaps the best preparation Starks could get for his all-important job of protecting Roethlisberger's blind side."

I hope this helps him even more.

revefsreleets
08-27-2009, 02:31 PM
Either that, or it's going to erode Harrison's skills because it's so easy to get past Starks...

OneForTheToe
08-27-2009, 03:19 PM
Memo to James Harrison: Push Harder (just away from Ben).

BKAnthem
08-27-2009, 08:26 PM
Either that, or it's going to erode Harrison's skills because it's so easy to get past Starks...

I would think a guy in his 6th season who made the average salary of the top 5 O linemen in the NFL last season...............would be able to push himself to be better. :kick:

Instead he got worked by Calais Campbell and Philip Daniels the past couple weeks. :doh:


Exactly!!

pancake
08-27-2009, 08:45 PM
Someone needs to push Starks to be better...

MasterOfPuppets
08-27-2009, 08:53 PM
a freakin D 9 dozer couldn't push starks to be better... the fatass got his money , don't expect as much from him from here on out....:mad:

HometownGal
08-27-2009, 09:48 PM
I would think a guy in his 6th season who made the average salary of the top 5 O linemen in the NFL last season...............would be able to push himself to be better. :kick:

Instead he got worked by Calais Campbell and Philip Daniels the past couple weeks. :doh:

My thoughts exactly, Gonz. :thumbsup:

We'll see on Saturday night whether Max has learned anything from being "bull-rushed" by JH or not.

GBMelBlount
08-27-2009, 10:15 PM
Either that, or it's going to erode Harrison's skills because it's so easy to get past Starks...

Max is a great guy, I'm sure, but he appears lazy and apathic and that really bothers me. I much prefer someone that may not have the size or pedigree but the attitude, like colon.

On the bright side...... Starks is quite large...... and should a defensive player need to go DIRECTLY THROUGH Starks (in milliseconds) to make a play, he can be tough.