View Full Version : Steelers' Starks can make 2009 even better

11-05-2009, 05:56 AM
Steelers' Starks can make 2009 even better
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Thursday November 5, 2009 12:16 AM

PITTSBURGH — It’s already been the greatest year in Max Starks’ life. But it could get even better.

In February, he experienced the thrill of winning the Super Bowl for the second time.

In June, he became the highest-paid offensive linemen in Steelers’ history when he landed a four-year, $26.3 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus.

A week later, he got married.

Now, as the Steelers prepare for Monday night’s showdown in Denver, Starks is receiving acclaim as one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen. There’s a chance he may be only the second Steelers’ tackle to make the Pro Bowl in the last 19 years.

If that happens, it could cap off a most memorable year for Starks, who went to training camp in the summer of 2008 not knowing where his future would lead him.

“It’s been a great journey,” Starks said.

In his second year, Starks started all 20 games, four postseason games included, at right tackle as the Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl. But two years later when Mike Tomlin and offensive line coach Larry Zierlein arrived in Pittsburgh, Starks lost his starting job to Willie Colon.

Last year, Starks started out as a second-stringer again even though he was paid $6.9 million. But that turned out to be an invaluable insurance policy.

When Marvel Smith’s back went out, Starks moved in at left tackle and stayed there as the Steelers went on to win another Super Bowl.

“It’s just perseverance,” Starks said. “People have allowed me to be here. Certain powers-that-be want me to be here. So I’m able to just go out and play the game I love.”

This season, Starks is playing the best football of his career.

As a left tackle, he almost always faces an opponent’s best pass rusher, whether it’s a defensive end or outside linebacker.
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He’s accountable for 4½ of the 20 sacks the O-line has allowed. But in only one of the instances was Starks beaten off the ball. The other sacks when Starks’ man got to Ben Roethlisberger were coverage sacks.

When the Steelers played in Cincinnati earlier this year, Bengals D-end Antwan Odom came into the game with a league-high seven sacks. Odom had none against Starks.

Two Sundays ago against Minnesota, Vikings D-end Jared Allen came into the game with 7.5 sacks. Allen had none against Starks. Allen now leads the NFL with 10.5 after recording three last week in a win over Green Bay.

On Monday night, Starks faces Broncos outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who’s second in the league with 10 sacks.

Dumervil, who’s 5-foot-11 and 248 pounds, is built similar to Pittsburgh’s James Harrison (6-0, 242). He even wears jersey No. 92 like Harrison.

“James is a little bit stronger,” Starks said.

But with the Broncos playing at home on a Monday night, the home crowd figures to be loud and rowdy.

Starks said he is up for the challenge.

“I look forward to competing … it doesn’t matter who the guy is I’m playing against,” he said. “Anytime you’re in the NFL and you have a chance to play on Monday Night Football, that’s a blessing and a dream come true.”

Obviously, Stark’s ultimate dream this season is to play in yet another Super Bowl. But a spot in the Pro Bowl wouldn’t be bad either. The last Steelers tackle to play in the NFL all-star game was Smith in 2004. Before that, it was Tunch Ilkin in 1989.

“Max is an elite tackle in this league,” Steelers guard Trai Essex said.

At least he’s been among the elite this season.

11-05-2009, 08:28 AM
What? Our o-linemen getting national recognition now?

The apocalypse is upon us.

11-05-2009, 09:07 AM
WOW!!!! What a difference a year makes!!!!! Go steelers!!!!

11-05-2009, 12:33 PM
Lets get em Starks........:tt04:

11-05-2009, 01:35 PM
This entire line is really starting to play well. I don't remember seeing a game last year against a very good defense, like the Vikes this year, that we could both run and provide Ben with time in the pocket (wish Ben could have taken better advantage, but hey, we won). If this group continues to progress and our D begins to tighten it up, we're going to do very well. I give our FO a lot of credit for believing in that O-line... most of us didn't (myself included).

11-05-2009, 08:30 PM
After years of scrutiny, doubt, and ridicule amongst Steeler fandom, Max Starks finally reaches the big time. He quietly had a good year last year, and he's finally stepped up.

He was playing out of position at RT. He was an LT coming out of college.

11-05-2009, 09:30 PM
What? Our o-linemen getting national recognition now?

The apocalypse is upon us.
ok...i'll restore some balance in the universe......

how comes the steelers can't run to the left side ??? pass blocking is only half of the job...:thumbsup:

11-05-2009, 09:55 PM
ok...i'll restore some balance in the universe......

how comes the steelers can't run to the left side ??? pass blocking is only half of the job...:thumbsup:

Kemo is a better pulling guard then straight ahead blocker?

11-06-2009, 05:48 AM
Dependable Starks prepares for next test
By Mark Kaboly
Friday, November 6, 2009

Max Starks has stated numerous times over his career that he would hate to face teammate James Harrison in a game.

Well, what about a James Harrison clone?

Denver linebacker Elvis Dumervil, a converted defensive end, is as close as the NFL has to offer as a twin to the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in stature and production.

The 5-foot-11, 248-pound Dumervil is an inch smaller than Harrison and six pounds heavier. This season, Dumervil has two more sacks than Harrison's eight.

To most left tackles in the league, going up against a guy such as Dumervil on Monday Night Football would be overwhelming, but not to Starks.

That's because Starks has one big advantage over Dumervil, and it has nothing to do with the eight inches and nearly 100 pounds he holds over him.

Starks' advantage is Harrison.

Ever since he took over the starting left tackle job six games into last season, Starks has practiced against Harrison every day.

That's every day last year, every day during offseason workouts, every day during a month of training camp this year and every day this season.

Starks has definitely learned tricks on how to deal with a diminutive but powerful guy who likes to get after the quarterback.

"The good news is that I have the opportunity to go up against a James Harrison every day in practice," Starks said. "It is not that big of a difference. If we hadn't had somebody like him and I was going up against a 6-5 guy ... that would be a lot tougher."

What Dumervil does do is use his speed to his advantage. But, according to former Louisville teammate William Gay, you can't ignore his power and strength either.

"Sure he has the speed to get to the outside," Gay said. "What people don't know about him is that he is strong. In college, he used to outlift the offensive linemen."

Dumervil has abused tackles this year. He has multiple sacks in four of Denver's seven games but has been shut out in the other three, including last week against Baltimore tackles Jared Gaither and Michael Oher.

"He is a great pass rusher," Starks said.

But Starks hasn't been a slouch, either. He has been pretty formidable in stopping the opposition's top pass rusher this year.

Starks, who has started at left tackle in the Steelers' past 21 games, including the postseason, has gone up against the likes of Tennessee's Kyle Vanden Bosch, Chicago's Alex Brown, Cincinnati's Antwan Odom, San Diego's Shawne Merriman, Detroit's Julian Peterson and Minnesota's Jared Allen. Starks has been nearly flawless.

"He has done a good job," fellow tackle Willie Colon said. "He has stepped up to the plate against a lot of good guys. Max has kind of had a knack for stepping up to the big challenges."

Dumervil is next up for Starks and might be his stiffest challenge yet. However, Starks sees it as just another day at the office.

"Elvis Dumervil wants to make his stats look good and wants to hurt my quarterback," Starks said. "I will make sure I do my best not to allow that to happen."

Starks has done that fairly well. Yes, he is responsible for 4 1/2 sacks of Ben Roethlisberger this year, but Brown was the only one out of the "Big Six" who recorded one.

The other 3 1/2 sacks came from other defenders, and all were coverage sacks in which Roethlisberger had an average of more than 5 seconds to get rid of the ball.

"I really don't look at personal stats unless I mess up," Starks said. "I look forward to competing. It doesn't matter who the guy is. You want to prove who is better, and that is the main driving force for myself."

Mark Kaboly can be reached at mkaboly@dailynewsemail.com or 412-664-9161.

Taking it to the Max

Through seven games, Max Starks has allowed 4 1/2 sacks, but Roethlisberger took more than 5 seconds on average to throw the ball.

Opponent Performance

Tennessee - Allowed half sack to Jacob Ford (4.1 seconds)

Chicago - Allowed sack to Alex Brown (3.5 seconds)

Cincinnati - Allowed no sacks

San Diego - Allowed sack to Larry English (6.5 seconds)

Detroit - Allowed sack to Julian Peterson (5.2 seconds)

Cleveland - Allowed sack to Jason Trusnick (6.1 seconds)

Minnesota - Allowed no sacks

11-06-2009, 08:11 AM
I'm going to merge these Starks threads together.

Puhhhhhhhlease folks - post new topics referencing a particular player in the original thread started on that player. Actually, there is a COC on this subject in the Laws of the Land thread in the Announcements forum.

11-08-2009, 10:14 AM
IMO our entire OL definitely deserves national recognition. At least this year if we win #7 the Steelers won't be known as Super Bowl champions with the worse starting OL in history :chuckle: It is awesome to see this unit continue to gel and play very well.