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03-11-2011, 01:56 PM
Steelers report: Inside slant
The Sports Xchange
March 10, 2011

Three-year breakdown

How the Steelers have done in the draft since 2008:

Total picks: 26

2010 Starters: 4

2010 Backups: 10

Other teams: 2

Out of NFL: 8

Injured Reserve/PUP: 2

Pittsburgh's most recent draft may have salvaged so-so drafts the previous two years that produced only three starters (including one because of injury) and which have failed with the second picks in each (guard Kraig Urbik and wide receiver Limas Sweed). The drafts in 2008 and 2009 had only six players on the 53-man roster last season while eight were on the roster from 2010. They have gotten almost no help from the 2008 draft after first-rounder Rashard Mendenhall, their leading rusher the past two seasons. Next to Sweed, third-round pick Bruce Davis was their biggest bust. He did not play a down in the NFL and was released after his rookie season.

Best pick: Center Maurkice Pouncey, 2010 (first round, 18th overall): Blew them away from the start and became their first Pro Bowler as a rookie in nine years. Continued long, successful tradition at the position.

Worst pick: Wide receiver Limas Sweed, 2008 (second round, 53rd overall): Bust. Seven career receptions. Too many drops as a rookie, on injured reserve with depression in second season and on injured reserve with a torn Achilles his third season.


1 (18) Maurkice Pouncey, C: Started every game until a high ankle sprain shelved him in the first playoff game. Made the Pro Bowl. Surprised coaches in camp with his mastery of line calls.

2 (52) Jason Worilds, ILB: Among the best special teamers on the squad. Converted from college defensive end and looks like a future starter but behind James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

3 (82) Emmanuel Sanders, WR: Became the No. 3 receiver and a late favorite target of Ben Roethlisberger. Fourth on the team with 28 receptions, two touchdowns, 376 yards.

4 (116) Thaddeus Gibson, LB: Waived during the season and claimed by the 49ers where he remains.

5 (151) Chris Scott, OT: Opened season on the PUP list, then joined the roster but did not suit up for a game. He'll have a better chance in 2011 to show his talent.

5 (164) Crezdon Butler, CB: Played in just four games and on game-day inactive list for the rest. Can also play safety.

5 (166) Stevenson Sylvester, LB: Led the special teams in tackles with 22 and has the looks of a future starter on the inside.

6 (188) Jonathan Dwyer, RB: Dressed for just one game and had nine carries for 28 yards. He should be used more often in 2011, especially if Mewelde Moore leaves as a free agent.

6 (195) Antonio Brown, WR: A surprise of the draft. His playing time increased dramatically over the final third of the season when he became No. 4. He caught 16 passes.

7 (242) Doug Worthington, DE: Released on final cut and signed to Tampa Bay's practice squad.

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Steelers report: Strategy and personnel
The Sports Xchange
March 10, 2011

Mike Tomlin hired former Steelers safety Carnell Lake, a five-time Pro Bowler in the 1990s, to coach the secondary. It is the only coaching change since last season. Former DB coach Ray Horton became defensive coordinator in Arizona.


1. Cornerback: Ike Taylor's contract is up and while they want to re-sign him, they will be in more dire trouble if they do not. They do not have another decent corner on the team and many defenses need three of them.

2. Tackle: The Steelers have not drafted an offensive tackle in the top two rounds in the past 10 years other than Marvel Smith, their only Pro-Bowl tackle in this century. Their top three tackles are Flozell Adams, who turns 36; Max Starks, coming off neck surgery; and Willie Colon, who did not play in 2011 because of a June Achilles rupture.

3. Guard: Three different players started at right guard last season and their starting left guard, Chris Kemoeatu, has frustrated them for a couple years now. Right now, Doug Legursky might be the best answer there and he also went undrafted.

WR Hines Ward has put off surgery to repair a dislocated thumb until after his competition on Dancing With the Stars.


--LB LaMarr Woodley (re-signed).



--LB LaMarr Woodley: FFA: 1 yr, terms unknown.



Steelers report: Notes, quotes
The Sports Xchange
March 10, 2011

--Hines Ward, one of the most vocal Steelers against an 18-game schedule, now thinks players might accept it, given one condition.

"We'd jeopardize our bodies for two more regular-season games, so if they can do something special with health insurance I think the players will go for it."

--Steelers head PR man Dave Lockett, who has been on the job for 13 years, has left the team. His departure is not related to the NFL labor situation.

--Pittsburgh players have no plans to get together to practice if there is a lockout.

"For us, just get yourself in the best shape possible," said safety Ryan Clark, their player rep. "What we have over most teams is veteran leadership. We have our core and all of our coaches returning other than a DB coach. There's not pressure on us like a Cleveland Browns team, you know?"

"I wouldn't put it past them to find another receiver. I don't think that's one of our main needs. We have some up and coming guys who had a breakout year. Mike (Wallace) had phenomenal year. But knowing them, I wouldn't put it past them to draft a receiver." - WR Hines Ward