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mesaSteeler
05-10-2010, 11:22 PM
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View From The Press Box
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Mitchell's job getting easier with age
May 10th, 2010

It is fitting that Steelers assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell is a connoisseur of fine wine.

That is because the players he coaches have aged like one of the bottles of wine Mitchell is fond of collecting when he isn’t busy working with one of the best lines in the NFL.

It is also why Mitchell laughs when he hears concerns about the Steelers getting too old up front even though the average age of their three starters is 32.3 years.

Defensive end Aaron Smith may be 34 but the elder statesman of the group isn’t thinking about retirement. Brett Keisel, who starts opposite Smith, is 31 but he is only going into his fifth season as a starter.

Mitchell said Keisel and nose tackle Casey Hampton, 32, are coming off their best seasons with the Steelers.

And Mitchell said Hampton is “working as hard as I’ve ever seen him work” during the offseason. So much for that three-year, $21.2 million contract Hampton signed in February going straight to the five-time Pro Bowler's waistline.

If there is one reason to be optimistic about the long-term future of the defensive line it is 2009 first-round pick Ziggy Hood.

He steadily improved during his rookie season and Mitchell indicated that Hood will be ready to start sooner rather than later should the Steelers need him.

“He’s going to be a heck of a player for us,” Mitchell said of Hood, who had eight tackles and a sack in 2009. “He’s made the decision he wants to be good. A lot of guys don’t make that until their last two, three years in this league. Well, their best years are behind them now.

“(Hood) is here, he gets better, he meets with me. This guy wants to be a good football player and he knows it’s just a matter of time before he’s going to take that one big giant step and be the type of player we want him to be. I’m excited about that guy.”

One reason the Steelers drafted Hood is because of the relentlessness as well as unselfishness he showed while starring at Missouri.

Both qualities make him a perfect fit for the Steelers -- and an eventual heir to Smith or Keisel.

Their influence on younger players such as Hood, second-year defensive end Sunny Harris and rookie defensive end Doug Worthington is one reason why Mitchell thinks the line will be just fine even though age has to become a factor at some point.

Smith, Keisel, Hampton and reserve nose tackle Chris Hoke, Mitchell said, have helped establish a foundation that will allow their contributions to the Steelers to continue even when they are no longer playing.

“It’s a delight for me to sit in my (meeting) room with the young guys when I can put my laser on Brett Keisel and say ‘Hey Ziggy Hood if you want to be a Brett Keisel watch this guy run 20 yards down the field and tag the runner.’ That’s the way you practice,” Mitchell said. “You don’t wait for Sunday, you do it every day. And it makes my job easier because these young guys they see that. Sunny Harris sees Brett Keisel run 15 yards in practice. Not one time, every time.

"So when I tell a guy ‘You’re not running’ all I’ve got to do it flip on the tape and say ‘Hey, you tell me if you’re running like Aaron Smith.’ You don’t have to be a 12-year (veteran) to do that. They make my job easy because of what they do Monday through Thursday.”

Psyychoward86
05-10-2010, 11:29 PM
I really agree that Keisel has been underappreciated by Steelers fans. We all know Aaron Smith is underrated by the entire NFL fanbase except us, but even us steeler fans dont give Brett Keisel enough love! The guys been playing his best football the last two yearsm and even at 31 years old he's kicking and alive like a young buck! What's not to love :tt04:

tony hipchest
05-10-2010, 11:49 PM
i totally buy what coach mitchell is selling.

last year during preseason vs. carolina, hood, eason, and harris manned the line.

although it was vs 2nd and 3rd stringers, i saw things that definitely left me optomistic for the future.

i bet hood has a longer and more productive career than all of the DT (or 3-4 DE's) drafted in his class or the year before.

wootawnee
05-11-2010, 12:32 PM
Man I love Keisel........He aint underaprecciated.......He just dont need attention like some bafoons on the Team....

I remember in 04 I was talking to my friend on the phone coast to coast.........I said who is that 99 on the kickoffs.....He is all over the place .....He plays like some animal linebacker from the 60's.............He played a part in that 15-1 team...........He was killing people on kickoffs..............We should have kept his weight down, cause I still feel he would have been an all pro linebacker........The guy can just move accross the field fast..............

Psyychoward86
05-11-2010, 05:51 PM
Man I love Keisel........He aint underaprecciated.......He just dont need attention like some bafoons on the Team....

I remember in 04 I was talking to my friend on the phone coast to coast.........I said who is that 99 on the kickoffs.....He is all over the place .....He plays like some animal linebacker from the 60's.............He played a part in that 15-1 team...........He was killing people on kickoffs..............We should have kept his weight down, cause I still feel he would have been an all pro linebacker........The guy can just move accross the field fast..............

Haha, Levon Kirkland #2 :rofl:

Prok
05-11-2010, 05:59 PM
i totally buy what coach mitchell is selling.

last year during preseason vs. carolina, hood, eason, and harris manned the line.

although it was vs 2nd and 3rd stringers, i saw things that definitely left me optomistic for the future.

i bet hood has a longer and more productive career than all of the DT (or 3-4 DE's) drafted in his class or the year before.

I had been hoping that since Ziggy was our 1st rounder last year he could earn himself a starting job his 2nd season.

I think Hood, Hampton and Smith starting would give us a damn good front 3.

Although i'd still rather it be a front 4 with Woodley at DE. LOL

Psyychoward86
05-11-2010, 06:04 PM
I had been hoping that since Ziggy was our 1st rounder last year he could earn himself a starting job his 2nd season.

I think Hood, Hampton and Smith starting would give us a damn good front 3.

Although i'd still rather it be a front 4 with Woodley at DE. LOL

See, this is what i mean. Keisel is so underappreciated everyone thinks Keisel is going to be the one losing a starting job once Ziggy gets good enough. We resigned Keisel for 5 years with starter's money for a reason. He's a big part of our future. Not Aaron Smith (at least now anymore)

Prok
05-11-2010, 11:25 PM
See, this is what i mean. Keisel is so underappreciated everyone thinks Keisel is going to be the one losing a starting job once Ziggy gets good enough. We resigned Keisel for 5 years with starter's money for a reason. He's a big part of our future. Not Aaron Smith (at least now anymore)

I was just thinking short-term. Until Smith retires.

I just want to see our 1st rounder pan out and earn himself a starting job and make us even better.

Galax Steeler
05-12-2010, 04:32 AM
Smith and Keisel better watch out if they start having a down year they could be replaced pretty easy by Hood. I think this will be the year for him.

steeltheone
05-12-2010, 12:37 PM
Still say if Hood cant start his second year, He was not worthy of a first rounder.

fansince'76
05-12-2010, 04:48 PM
Still say if Hood cant start his second year, He was not worthy of a first rounder.

For as late as he went in the first, he might as well have been an early second rounder.

pete74
05-12-2010, 04:57 PM
Still say if Hood cant start his second year, He was not worthy of a first rounder.

i agree. if your not able to start by your 2nd year then you shouldnt of been selected in the 1st round. with that said i think Hood will anchor our line for the next 12 years

BKAnthem
05-12-2010, 06:42 PM
Still say if Hood cant start his second year, He was not worthy of a first rounder.

I always thought the Steelers D-Line is to good to draft Linemen high...they have the BEST D Line coach in the NFL, he can develop any late round pick willing to put in work...

Psyychoward86
05-12-2010, 09:24 PM
Still say if Hood cant start his second year, He was not worthy of a first rounder.

i agree. if your not able to start by your 2nd year then you shouldnt of been selected in the 1st round. with that said i think Hood will anchor our line for the next 12 years


You guys do know how good Smith and Keisel are right?

What if we had 2 All-pro's at DE (Which we practically do from a production standpoint), our 1st round pick still absolutely HAS TO be able to break into the starting lineup?

Chidi29
05-12-2010, 09:37 PM
All the credit in the world to John Mitchell. What a life he has had.

First black player to play at Alabama. First black coach they had, hired by Bear Bryant at 20. Was part of Lou Holtz's, Bill Belichick's, the aforementioned Bear Bryant's, and Bill Cowher's coaching staff.

A guy that has been around forever and considered to be a father figure by the defensive lineman.

A guy that doesn't get nearly the credit he should.

Prok
05-12-2010, 10:29 PM
All the credit in the world to John Mitchell. What a life he has had.

First black player to play at Alabama. First black coach they had, hired by Bear Bryant at 20. Was part of Lou Holtz's, Bill Belichick's, the aforementioned Bear Bryant's, and Bill Cowher's coaching staff.

A guy that has been around forever and considered to be a father figure by the defensive lineman.

A guy that doesn't get nearly the credit he should.

Thanks for posting that. I didn't even know all that stuff.

I still want him to get Hood worked into the lineup. lol

Galax Steeler
05-13-2010, 04:29 AM
You guys do know how good Smith and Keisel are right?


They are both good with out a dought. I think what they are trying to say is why did we draft Hood if we didn't need him. They drafted value instead of need they could have gotten someone else that could have started in there second year.

Steely McSmash
05-16-2010, 03:31 PM
You guys do know how good Smith and Keisel are right?

What if we had 2 All-pro's at DE (Which we practically do from a production standpoint), our 1st round pick still absolutely HAS TO be able to break into the starting lineup?

Both the quotes say can start - not must start.

steelerchad
05-16-2010, 03:56 PM
i agree. if your not able to start by your 2nd year then you shouldnt of been selected in the 1st round. with that said i think Hood will anchor our line for the next 12 years

I don't agree.
We drafted D-line because all of our D lineman were 30+, not because we needed a starter immediately. Hood was the last pick in the first round, I think he'll be fine and he will get increased playing time this year, but still will not start unless an injury takes place.
It was a position of need for the future and I agree with the pick. You can't replace all 3 D-line positions in 1 or 2 years drafting. If so, we could be looking at 3 guys with little to no experience in 3 years on our front line. My guess is Hood takes over for Smith in 2011. We pick up a nose tackle in next years draft to replace Casey in 2 years and Kiesel is the elder statesman until we find his replacement.

Psyychoward86
05-16-2010, 08:35 PM
I think what they are trying to say is why did we draft Hood if we didn't need him. They drafted value instead of need they could have gotten someone else that could have started in there second year.

No, we needed Hood badly, and it was a pick for both value and need. Our current starting D-line will be gone almost simultaneously because of old age, except for Keisel. But by the time Aaron Smith and Hampton retire, Keisel will be at least on the brink of retirement.

Galax Steeler
05-17-2010, 05:12 AM
No, we needed Hood badly, and it was a pick for both value and need. Our current starting D-line will be gone almost simultaneously because of old age, except for Keisel. But by the time Aaron Smith and Hampton retire, Keisel will be at least on the brink of retirement.

I agree we needed Hood but this is going to be his second year and more then likely he will not be starting. Alot of people ask why we drafted him if he isn't going to start in his second year. I see it as grooming him to replace Smith or Keisel next year.:drink:

markymarc
05-19-2010, 10:27 AM
I still think the Ziggy Hood pick was smart last year and I can't wait to see him develop even more this off season with the help of John Mitchell. Hopefully John can continue to help RaShon Harris develop because I think he can help this team if needed.

Plus he has another project now in Doug Worthington. Keep up the great work John!