View Full Version : Bouchette on the Steelers: Dixon will present different challenge

09-12-2010, 12:00 AM
Bouchette on the Steelers: Dixon will present different challenge
A look inside the team, the issues & the questions
Sunday, September 12, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
Don't touch that hair. Hines Ward makes cutting motions around Troy Polamalu's hair during the Steelers' final preseason game Sept. 2. Only a few days earlier, it was reported that Head & Shoulders, for which Polamalu is a spokesman, had ensured his hair for $1 million. 2010

Steelers defenders call it the "mush rush," a name given by line coach John Mitchell to the different form their pass rush takes against quarterbacks who can run. They say that is what quarterback Dennis Dixon should see from the Atlanta Falcons' defense this afternoon.

"You have to try to squeeze the pocket," backup nose tackle Chris Hoke explained. "You don't try to work an edge because you'll leave something opening. You want to collapse the pocket and push it."

The edge, or outside rushers such as LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison, have to be more in control, protect their inside gaps so the quarterback can't scoot through a hole if his pocket breaks down. That won't be Woodley's and Harrison's jobs today because Matt Ryan is not a running quarterback. But they have gone against enough of them to know how the Falcons will approach Dixon.

"Everybody's working together," Woodley said "he two outside guys coming inside and the two inside guys closing the pocket. Keep it tight, so he doesn't have room to run.

"You think about how a guy like Michael Vick used to run. You have to respect the run, and also he can throw the ball. You can't over-rush him because, if you over-rush him, he'll beat you."

Said Hoke, "When you play a guy who is not as mobile, like a Carson Palmer, you can work your edges; he doesn't want to run. But, when you play guys who are mobile, we go to the mush rush, and you try to squeeze the pocket so he feels uncomfortable in there."

All things being equal, Hoke said a defense would rather face a traditional pocket passer than one who can run and throw, and he said the Falcons will have to adjust against Dixon.

"They have to make sure they cover and get to the quarterback. Dennis is so quick, you give him one little gap, he's gone.''

Bruce Arians, the Steelers' offensive coordinator, said that type of strategy from the defense can give a quarterback like Dixon more time to throw.

"If they respect the pass, yes, because your rush lanes are all a little bit different when you have a guy who can come out of there. But, if the ball is coming out on time, sometimes that can slow the pass rush down for you, and it can be an advantage."
Light at the end of the suspension tunnel

The NFL may look into adjusting its policy regarding the banishment of suspended players from team facilities under its personal conduct policy.

That's what one source said when speaking briefly about Ben Roethlisberger's four-game suspension that will bar him not only from playing, but from working out at the team's facilities, attending games at Heinz Field or even speaking to teammates, coaches or front-office personnel about football.

Is that any way to rehabilitate someone?

It seemed like some would not have been happy unless Roethlisberger served his suspension hanging from his thumbs the whole time, but anyone suspended under the personal conduct policy of the league faces such banishment.

Would it not be better for Roethlisberger, his team and maybe even society if he were allowed to report daily to the team's facilities, work out, attend meetings and otherwise keep involved in his profession? Instead, he is not allowed anywhere near the Steelers. Even his own teammates cannot come over to his house to talk about football. What would they rather have him do with all his free time? Meditate? Head to the casino? Play the ponies? Even in prison, they allow visitors.

Santonio Holmes, on the other hand, can do all that with the New York Jets during his four-game suspension because he only failed a drug test. The NFL policy should be adjusted to allow all suspended players to work with their teams during their suspension unless they are undergoing league-mandated counseling. You would think they would rather know that these players are involved in football most of their time off.
The team giveth, and it taketh away

In these days of recession and pay cuts, running back Frank Summers will get a shocker in his next check -- a nearly 500 percent reduction in pay. Isaac Redman on the other hand will experience a nice raise for these times -- more than 350 percent.

That's life near the bottom of NFL rosters, where millionaires do not reside and players such as Summers and Redman try to survive long enough to call what they love doing a career and, perhaps, put a little money away.

Summers will not have much to put away this year. He will earn $88,400 if he remains on the Steelers' practice squad all 17 weeks of the regular season. As a rookie last year, he earned $425,000, counting bonus and salary.

Redman was on the practice squad last season receiving a $5,200 weekly paycheck, although he spent one game on the 53-man roster (giving him a raise in pay) and missed one other week off the practice squad.

Neither said they worried about the money. They merely wanted to make it in their profession. Their roles are flip-flopped this season, at least for the start of it.

"I talked to him yesterday," Summers said late in the week. "I said, 'Man I have much respect for what you did all of last year.' I told him I thought it was a humbling experience, and he said yeah, you just have to stay positive. We had a pretty good talk about it."

The two backs have many role models to look to from past practice squads. Fullback Dan Kreider, for one. Nose tackle Chris Hoke spent parts of his first two seasons, 2001 and 2002, on the Steelers' practice squad, and this will officially be his ninth season in the NFL.

Any team can sign a player off another's practice squad for their 53-man roster if that player is willing. They are free agents in a sense, although they cannot sign with a practice squad for another team without being released.

Summers played halfback at UNLV, where he started 24 games in his two seasons. He never played fullback until the Steelers tried him there in the middle of his rookie training camp. He had only three preseason carries as a rookie and none this summer.

He will get a chance to play both fullback and halfback in practice on the Steelers' scout team or show team, the guys who line up against the first teams as that week's opponents. Summers wore the No. 33 of Atlanta halfback Michael Turner in practice all last week.

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