View Full Version : Steel City Jimmy: Steelers' O-Line needs to take care of QB Ben Roethlisberger

05-20-2012, 09:20 AM
Steel City Jimmy: Steelers' O-Line needs to take care of QB Ben Roethlisberger
Published: Sunday, May 20, 2012, 7:07 AM
JIM CARLSON, The Patriot-News By JIM CARLSON, The Patriot-News

It’s only May, but it's never too early to fill your 90-man roster.

The Pittsburgh Steelers completed their roster by signing a Southern Miss kicker, Danny Hrapmann, and a North Carolina offensive lineman, Kyle Jolly.

Roster moves are the norm at this time of year, and there's plenty of movement in camp.

Willie Colon has been shifted to left guard, which pretty much seals a starting bid for Steelers first-round pick David DeCastro from Stanford at right guard.

Mike Adams of Ohio State, the teams second draft pick, is penciled in at one of the tackle spots with Marcus Gilbert potentially at the other. Jonathan Scott is in the mix for one of the tackle spots as well.

Thus, if you're of the mindset to complain that the team's offensive line was too old, you might reverse course and whine that the line is now too young outside of Colon and talented but often gimpy center Maurkice Pouncey.

Overall, the youth movement is better in the ever-changing world of an NFL roster. Especially when they're charged with protecting one of the leagues best quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger, who has taken a physical beating the past couple of seasons.

Not only will the line be young, it will be learning a complex offense installed by new coordinator Todd Haley.

A line only sprinkled with experience will be responsible for keeping upright a quarterback who likes to scramble — and won't let go of the ball — in addition to opening holes for running backs with minimal reps until the return of Rashard Mendenhall.

The Steelers' game plan always has been to mix the run and the pass, but it seems more than obvious that the pass protection better be top priority in the preseason in order for Roethlisberger to connect with a stable of young but extremely talented receivers.

Despite some big-name defensive stars, Roethlisberger still figures to be the leader of that team. He's more than proven he can.

He showed up in 2004 a virtual unknown, was thrust into the lineup because of injury and just one season later earned his first of two Super Bowl rings in three appearances.

Did he let that go to his head? That's pretty obvious given some of his ensuing offseason antics, and he would admit to that. But the guy's grown up after some seamy allegations and some questionable decision-making.

Roethlisberger’s a tough, blue-collar, franchise QB, a superb passer who sees the field and plays the game as well as he knows it.

The Steelers do not have a proven backup and have done nothing to acquire one. Their offense rests in his hands and, obviously, so does their success.

The team's roster and 10 starters in front of him should be geared around his safe-keeping.

Hawaii 5-0
05-21-2012, 02:30 PM
Steelers take drastic measures to turn over O-line, protect Big Ben

By Len Pasquarelli | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
Sunday May 20, 2012


The Steelers are building a young O-line around 2010 first-rounder Maurkice Pouncey. (US Presswire)

With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger now 30, and the team's most valuable player sacked an average of 43.5 times over the past six seasons -- including 40 or more sacks in all but one of those campaigns, and coming off an ankle injury last year -- Pittsburgh has drastically retooled its blocking unit.

It's not often that a perennial playoff team like the Pittsburgh Steelers so dramatically revamps its offensive line in such a short period of time. But, then again, it's not often that an annual postseason contender has such a dire area of need yet is able to get by with an obviously deficient unit.

Coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert contend the remaking of the line wasn't necessarily intentional, and that circumstances and the club's draft board essentially dictated some of the moves since 2010. But it's notable that, in the past three drafts, the Steelers have selected four players now projected to start in 2012. And it's likewise worth mentioning that no other playoff team from 2011 is expected to have more than two line changes this season, and that 10 clubs will have either one or zero alterations.

"Whether it was needed or not, there's been a big shuffle," said two-time Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, a first-round pick in 2010. "Hopefully, we can all come together pretty quickly."

Quickly also describes the manner in which the club has addressed its line.

The latest move came this week with the revelation that former right tackle Willie Colon, who has played only one game the past two seasons because of injuries, will switch to left guard. While Colon was considered the team's best lineman before injuries curtailed his 2010 and 2011 campaigns, there was always discussion of him moving to guard, and the switch essentially puts the rest of the ducks in a row.

Two rookies, first-rounder David DeCastro and No. 2 pick Mike Adams, are slated to start at right guard and left tackle respectively. The choice of Adams, who some felt had first-round credentials before he tested positive for marijuana at the combine, negates the move of second-year right tackle Marcus Gilbert to the left side. And it means Pittsburgh will start a quintet in which four of the players are 24 or younger. Only Colon, 29, is older.

The shuffle also means that Pittsburgh could start a line that totals only 44 starts over the past two seasons. But in 2011, resourceful line coach Sean Kugler was forced to use a league-high 21 combinations. And while the breaking-in period could present some difficulties, the Steelers feel that in the long run the changes will be well worth it, and will better protect Roethlisberger.

Said Colon, who seemingly has embraced the change: "If things work out, we could be good for a while."