View Full Version : Training Camp Position Battles: Right Guard

06-28-2010, 04:38 AM
The Steelers last major position battle going into training camp is at Right Guard. This is a crammed battle that is going to heat up more then any other battle during camp. We have already seen Trai Essex stomp on First Round pick Maurkice Pouncey’s toes to try and keep his job. In all seriousness, this will be the best battle to watch in late July. There are so many scenarios that could happen and so many guys who all have some type of stake in this position.

There are 4 major players vying for the spot: last year’s starter Trai Essex, two second year players Kraig Urbik and Ramon Foster, and rookie Maurkice Pouncey.

The interior offensive line could get a complete facelift this season. Previous starters Hartwig and Essex have their work cut out for them. There are some good young guys coming up behind them, and they may not be able to hold them off any longer.

I love the fact that there is competition this year. We normally go into camp with a veteran laden team, and we know who the starters are before we even have a practice. I am happy to see the influx of youth coming in and making their presence known. I hope some of them break through and get some time. Field experience is the biggest factor in the learning curve. You can study, practice and lift as many weights as you want but until you feel that field underneath you, you just don’t know. Let’s see if one of the young guys is going to make it.

Option 1: Trai Essex – Essex was the starter last season and did a decent job. He filled the role adequately, but he really was the only option when training camp started. The previous starter Darnell Stapleton was injured and out for the season. The only other people behind him were two rookies who hadn’t had a chance to learn the offense yet. He was not handed but given the job without much of a fight. He won’t get that lucky this year. Casey Hampton has said that Essex is the hardest guy on the team to get through, but that only means that he is a good one on one player. In today’s game, you don’t end up in a one on one match up very often unless you are the center. You are moving around and passing off players to get to the next level, so you may never even block a player one on one in the midst of any given play. He also is not trying to take the center role so it does not apply in that scenario. In my opinion, Essex is the backup. He is a great player to have on your team because he can play any position on the line in a need role, but he does not have the skills to do it day in and day out. I do not see Essex still being in this role when the season starts.

Option 2: Kraig Urbik - Urbik was last year’s third round pick who seemed to have trouble picking up the offense when he first arrived in town. He underachieved and did not even dress for most of the games. He was inactive and not really a contributor. During OTAs, Urbik was running with the second team as the center. He was not even in this position with the first or second team. That does not bode well for Urbik. I would like to see him in the preseason to see what he actually has in him.

Option 3: Ramon Foster - Foster was an undrafted rookie who worked his way into the good graces of the coaching staff. Foster took over Essex old role of swing lineman. He was the number one backup at all positions on the offense line. Foster was thrust into the starting lineup when Kemo went down with a arm injury. He filled in well for a rookie. He was not a world beater, but it was an on the spot move. Foster is more of a run blocking offensive linemen. He is able to get to the second level but is not very strong as a pulling guard. He did a good job of pass blocking in his short time on the field. Foster was the 6th best linemen on the team last year. That will end up being his role again this year.

Option 4: Maurkice Pouncey - Pouncey was running with the second team at right guard during OTAs. I still am of the mindset that Pouncey is a center and that is what he was brought here to do. His best chance to start right now though is at right guard. That is where he has been working out and that is where he is going to be the most comfortable in this offense. Pouncey is a great pass blocker and will only improve playing at guard where he has a chance to see what is coming at him. The Steelers run an abundance of plays where the guard pulls. Pouncey was a pulling center at Florida. If he can pull after snapping the ball then he will be even better at that while playing guard. We know that he can block the big man with the performances he put up against Mt. Cody and Dan Williams in the SEC last season. Pouncey’s potential here is through the roof. He could become a great guard in the NFL even if he is better as a center.

This again is a nice crop of young guys on the roster again. We look like we have a bright future ahead of us.

Final Pick: Maurkice Pouncey

07-05-2010, 04:45 PM
Is Ramon Foster a realistic option to fill in for/replace Colon?

07-05-2010, 06:14 PM
i wouldnt think so but a few years ago i laughed when i heard Colon would start at RT

07-06-2010, 10:52 PM
Just think if they had properly addressed this in Last years draft