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10-04-2009, 02:12 PM
Week 4: Steelers Key Matchup
By The Tribune-Review

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Steelers S Tyrone Carter and CB Deshea Townsend vs. Chargers TE Antonio Gates


Troy Polamalu will miss his third straight game with a knee injury forcing Carter back into the starting lineup along with Townsend seeing some time at the strong safety position. The strong safety's responsibility in Dick LeBeau's system is primarily to follow the opposing team's tight end. Carter has had trouble keeping up with the tight end ever since replacing Polamalu in the second half of the opener against the Titans. Chicago exposed Carter two weeks ago when Greg Olsen and Kellen Davis combined for eight catches for 79 yards and a score. Last week, Carter, with help from Townsend, held the Bengals tight ends to only one catch. Cincinnati, however, was down to its third tight end in Daniel Coates.


Gates is one of the best tight ends in the league and always seems to bring out his best against the Steelers. Gates hasn't had huge games against the Steelers, but has put up disrupting numbers that should get the attention of the Steelers' coach staff. In five career games including the playoffs, Gates has 20 receptions for 249 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers, and quarterback Philip Rivers doesn't hesitate to try to force the ball to his star tight end, especially around the end zone. Gates has had at least eight touchdowns receptions in five of the six years he has been in the league. Gates is off to a fast start this season with 15 catches for 225 yards in three games, which is good enough for third in the league among tight ends.


The Steelers always have had trouble with opposing tight ends. Last year, the Steelers allowed 67 catches to tight ends during regular season and playoffs. This season, opposing tight ends have 16 catches in the first three games. That projects to 85 for the season. You can bet the Chargers will try to exploit the middle of the field with Gates and backup Brandon Manumaleuna. Look for the Steelers to chip Gates at the line with either James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley and get deeper drops from middle linebackers James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons.

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