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Galax Steeler
09-03-2009, 07:29 AM
The game tonight in Charlotte, N.C., is example No. 1 why the NFL owners and many coaches would love to see the preseason reduced by one or two games.

It holds all the meaning of Pitt's Blue-Gold spring scrimmage. Once upon a time, the final exhibition was seen as the final tune-up for the starters, and they played extensively. Now most coaches play their starters at most two series, and not all starters play.

A few years ago, Carolina Panthers coach John Fox showed just how important this game is by not playing his starters at all. There went that pretense.

Of course, regular-season ticket prices prevail, unless you are a scalper trying to get face value.

Coaches, of course, will say this is a game where the young players can make or break it. Sometimes, that is true, for one or two players. For the most part, Mike Tomlin and his staff already have their roster on paper. They might leave open one or two positions, but, when Tomlin holds his news conference by 4 p.m. tomorrow, he already will have his roster figured out.



Yet those one or two position battles that might be won or lost tonight are critical to a handful of players trying to make the 53-man roster. Players such as rookie backs Frank Summers and Isaac Redman are among them.

"I prefer tough cuts," Tomlin said. "Easy cuts are not fun for a guy in my position.

"I was just looking at our Carolina game from a year ago. Going into the game, there were guys that were fence-riders, or really, quite frankly, on the outside looking in. A guy like Pat Bailey ran down and made three or four tackles on kickoffs in that game a year ago and not only made our football team but got a hat every week because of that kind of performance."

He also brought up the name of Donovan Woods, another undrafted rookie linebacker last year who since has solidified his spot on the roster.

"He got a sack, got more pressure on the quarterback, leapt over a blocker to do it, and showed some things that we, quite frankly, we didn't know he had," Tomlin said of that final preseason game in 2008.

So, there might be one or two spots available to those who distinguish themselves tonight or fail to do so and allow someone else to pass them by.

Summers came to the Steelers as a fifth-round draft choice from UNLV, which used to be a hotbed of basketball talent and never a funnel to the pros in football.

He played strictly tailback there in a fullback's body, and, finally, the Steelers this summer asked him to play some fullback as well.

"He was a good fullback runner, explosive body type," coordinator Bruce Arians said of Summers' college experience. "He's naturally built for the position. You have to have position flexibility to get dressed Sunday."

Summers has had problems getting dressed at all. He has a right hamstring injury, and that has limited him to two carries, both in the preseason opener. He also had two carries in this summer's first, live goal-line drill. He did not score.

Redman has gotten most of the play at the goal line. He has two touchdowns there, half the team's scores on the ground in three preseason games. Redman also scored twice in the first goal-line drill in practice and five out of seven in the next one.

Yet Summers might have the edge entering the game tonight, which could be crucial for someone like him and Redman.

"I really don't know the answer to that question," Summers said. "Every game is important to me; it's just like it's my last, it's like it's my first."

His first, his last, his everything.

Playing fullback for the Steelers these days is a strange thing. Some who play are tight ends, like rookie David Johnson. Some, like Summers and Carey Davis, also are tailbacks.

Gone are the days when the pure lead blocker like Dan Kreider lines up to block for Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall.

The position has, traditionally, been a difficult one to find when scouting college players. Kreider, who made it as an undrafted rookie, was a good example. Blocking on the move against linebackers and such is not something that often can be evaluated because there's not much tape of players doing that in college.

It also is difficult to teach. The last time the Steelers tried to draft a pure blocking fullback reasonably high, they failed miserably with Carlos King, a fourth-rounder in 1998 who was quickly released. For others, it comes naturally, which might be the case for the rookie known as Frank The Tank.

"It was not tough at all, to be honest," said Summers, who last played fullback at Skyline High in Oakland, Calif., blocking for Marshawn Lynch. "The toughest part about it is just blocking the defender you're supposed to block because defenses are so complicated at this level.

"Not to say it's easy, but it's come to me very naturally. I told coach Tomlin the other day that it's kind of like Pop Warner -- you see that guy, go hit him and get him out of the play. That's the job of the fullback.''

It's a job Summers might yet hold down.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09246/995241-66.stm

mmalone
09-03-2009, 08:48 AM
Playing fullback for the Steelers these days is a strange thing. Some who play are tight ends, like rookie David Johnson. Some, like Summers and Carey Davis, also are tailbacks.

Gone are the days when the pure lead blocker like Dan Kreider lines up to block for Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall.

For others, it comes naturally, which might be the case for the rookie known as Frank The Tank.

That's the job of the fullback.''

It's a job Summers might yet hold down.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09246/995241-66.stm

Summers needs to block for Willie and/or Mendy in the short game tonight.

Notice "gone our the days"..... yes gone are the days of smash mouth running because we dont have a real fullback...

Hopefully we clear the RB's out and keep Summers and Redman as the 4th and 5th spots and move forward, It cant be going backwards.

OneForTheToe
09-03-2009, 11:53 AM
If you cut a preseason game then the third preseason game becomes meaningless for the starters, because coaches are still afraid of injuries a week before the season. Similarly, if you cut back to two, then the second one becomes the meaningless for the starters. In addition, in the case where say your quarterback has been stepped on by a giant blob, you could be going into the season with no game work for said starting quarterback.

I don't think the majority of coaches would like to go to two games. It simply isn't enough time to evaluate young talent. Three games? Maybe?