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Hawaii 5-0
06-27-2012, 03:36 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers: Three Questions Heading into Training Camp

June 27, 2012
by Football Nation


1. When will Mike Wallace report to training camp?

This story is getting old real fast for Steelers fans. Mike Wallace still hasnít signed his one-year tender, which would pay him $2.742 million in non-guaranteed base salary. Wallaceís teammates are optimistic that heíll be there sooner rather than later however.

According to cornerback Ike Taylor, itís only a matter of time before Wallace reports to camp. "He's going to be there (training camp)," Taylor told Albert Buford of The Times-Picayune on Saturday. "They'll get it done. When you talk about that kind of money, it's not an overnight type of deal. By the end of the day, I think for sure he's going to get that thing done. Both sides are working together, so that's a good thing."

Steelers fans can only hope that Taylor is right. Wallace has stated that he wants a long-term deal done, and the Steelers have maintained publicly throughout that they would like to lock their best receiver up long-term as well. Naturally, the holdup is over money. I suspect Wallace wants to be paid like an elite, top-five type receiver in the league.

The problem for the Steelers is that statistically, Wallace just isnít there yet. Wallace had less receiving yards and touchdowns last season than he did in 2010, and he really faded off towards the end of the year after a hot start. In my opinion, Wallace is going to go down as one of the very best deep threats of his generation, and I donít think a whole lot of people would disagree with me. Even if he hasnít produced quite like that top-five guy yet, Wallace is likely to only get better with time.

In other words, the Steelers should just quit being stingy and pay up. Without a doubt, theyíre going to have to make some seriously tough decisions regarding who to resign and who to let go next offseason. Casey Hampton, Rashard Mendenhall, Larry Foote, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, and Issac Redman all become free agents in 2013. Even if heís the most expensive of the lot, Wallace is not the one to let go.

2. Can Mike Adams protect Ben Roethlisbergerís blind side?

If the Mike Wallace contract situation is resolved before the season starts, which I suspect it will be, then this definitely becomes the number one question mark for the Steelers. When Mike Adams was drafted, I suspected that Marcus Gilbert would still make the transition to left tackle for at least one season, and Adams would wait a year behind Willie Colon at right tackle. The reason I thought this is because Gilbert was told to prepare to take over at left tackle next season prior to the draft, but clearly the Steelers had a change of plans.

So I was surprised to hear that the Steelers intend to give Adams the first crack at the starting left tackle job heading into training camp. Colon will be moved to left guard. As a Steelers fan, this worries me. If there is any player that could really benefit from sitting on the bench for a season, I thought it was Mike Adams.

Adams has the potential to be a premier left tackle one day, but the key word here is potential. Despite his athletic prowess, Adams was never a premier left tackle at Ohio State, just a good one. Adams has really good feet and an impressive frame, but he lacks adequate upper body strength; he was only able to bust out 19 reps on the bench press at the combine, a very low number for a tackle. Adams needs to get stronger in order to hold up against bull rushers at the next level, but he doesnít have a whole lot of time to do so.

Thereís no doubt in my mind that Adams will eventually be the best player the Steelers have had at left tackle since Marvel Smithís prime, but heís being thrown into the fire awfully early. Adams should at least be an immediate upgrade over what the Steelers had to deal with at left tackle last season, but thatís not saying a whole lot.

The Steelers desperately need to keep Roethlisberger upright more this season so he stays healthy for a playoff run. If he takes as many shots as he did last season, another serious injury is almost inevitable. Itís an oversimplification of course, but in a way, the fate of the Steelers season depends on how quickly Mike Adams can develop.


3. Can Isaac Redman carry the load?

It may sound like blasphemy, but the fact is the Steelers donít need an amazing running game to win the Super Bowl next season. All they need is a pretty good one, which I think theyíre going to have. Thatís why this question is number three and not higher. Still, Isaac Redman has extremely limited experience starting and concerns over his ability to adequately fill the shoes of Rashard Mendenhall are valid. So will he be able to?

Let me start off by saying, I love the talent of Rashard Mendenhall. When he gets out in the open field, heís one of the better backs in football and is a lot of fun to watch. The problem for Mendenhall, however, is in getting out in the open field where he can use the skills that made him a first-round pick in 2008.

Mendenhallís mediocre statistics are not all his fault; he has never had the advantage of running behind the type of run blocking offensive line that the great Steelers running backs of the past had. Still, for a bigger back Mendenhallís lack of power is a little disappointing.

Heís got great speed and his moves in the open field are second to none, but he dances too much in the backfield as opposed to just hitting the hole and finding positive yardage. All too often, Mendenhall gets completely stuffed when he could have just put his head down and picked up a few yards.

These criticisms make Isaac Redman very appealing to Steelers fans. Redman doesnít have half as much talent as Mendenhall, but he has good vision and power. Unlike the flashier Mendenhall, Redman gets north and south and into the hole quickly.

Heís not going to wow anyone with his speed or his lateral quickness, but his production last season in relief of Mendenhall was very impressive. In an admittedly small sample size, Redman rushed for 479 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Mendenhall, on the other hand, only averaged 4.1 yards per carry.

Iím not ready to write off the career of Mendenhall just yet, heís way too gifted for that, but it remains to be seen just how much the Steelers running game will actually suffer during his absence. Mendenhall may very well return towards the end of the season, but the Steelers canít count on it.

Note: If youíre surprised that I didnít include something about Ben Roethlisberger having to learn a new system under Todd Haley, then let me briefly explain myself. The media has made a lot of this, and some of it has to do with whatís been looked at as clashing personalities between the two.

Let me be clear, Todd Haley is a very good offensive coordinator with a track record for success, and Ben Roethlisberger is an elite quarterback. Thereís no substantial evidence that the two canít coexist and get along, and thereís also no reason to believe that Roethlisberger canít have his best season yet under Haley.

Bruce Arians gave Roethlisberger a lot of freedom which he certainly enjoyed having, but letís be honest, the guy wasnít that great of an offensive coordinator. Todd Haley is an upgrade, and Roethlisberger should only benefit from playing for him.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/pittsburgh_steelers_three_questions_heading_into_t raining_camp/11100437

06-27-2012, 06:45 PM

06-27-2012, 07:22 PM
I agree with one and two, but I would have made our CB's # 3. I'm not that concerned with Redmond.

06-27-2012, 11:19 PM
Agree with all of it except that we need to "pay up" for Wallace. I just don't see us being able to keep him. Not if he really wants the kind of money he asked for this off season that scared off many teams. I love Wallace but I would rather have Brown for les and be able to keep other players.

06-27-2012, 11:31 PM
1. Not too worried about it, he's a Steeler this year either way.

2. If Adams struggles then Colon could move back to RT and Gilbert to LT, but the obvious solution would be Starks provided he's healthy. Overall, I'm not to worried about it.

3. A good offensive line can make any RB look good, Redman looked good behind last years O line, I think he will do more then carry the load. There's 3 or 4 guys behind him that I want to see too, we may actually be pretty set at RB and not know it yet.

Although #2 is a bit of a worry, I'm more concerned with whoever our #2 CB is, and how our new CB's and Spence cover when they come in. This year our nickel CB, Timmons, and Spence (when used), have a big load to shoulder covering the new types of large hybrid TE's. Another concern for me is how the new offense "gels". I'm confident, but some confusion on timing routes (I think we will actually have timing routes) could cost us an early game or two. I must say this year I'm not worried about much, it's nice not worrying about the O line during the off season. In the past few years I have criticized the FO for not addressing the glaring issues in the off season. The FO is one of the best and they did a great job keeping our star players signed, but the O line had been terrible for at least 3 years without any real focus on it IMO. This year not only did they address the O line, they also strategically addressed our weak spots like: our kicker, depth at ILB, depth at WR, and MOST OF ALL the OC. IMO there's not much to worry about.

06-29-2012, 10:31 PM
As far as the O-line, here's something I wrote up about the prospects of them being a concern to the team


I truthfully don't think it could be any worse than it has been the past few years. Excited for the youth to grow into their roles. It'll be a fun season watching them play.

Hawaii 5-0
07-03-2012, 02:36 AM
What Is The Steelers Biggest Weakness On Offense and Defense

by alexjoe9 on Jul 2, 2012

The BIG question for me this offseason is whats the next thing we should improve on as a priority for next offseason. That question cant be answered without seeing performances in the games this season but we can speculate (which is all we are doing at this point). Even though some positions are leaving something to be desired it doesnt meant that its weak. Personally I think we need more conservative play from our FS when it comes to runs and short pass plays because if he gets in the habit of playing short and aggressive it will open up the big plays (a lot of you know my views on this already), but by no means do i think FS is a glaring weakness.

As a side note the reason why i feel the way i do about our FS is, I remember how good Chris Hope was when we had him and how well our safeties meshed as a unit. They came into the league together and had two different play styles and when he left and became a SS, It killed me.

Any way I digress. Like I said the biggest problems I see on our teams has to be split up between offense, defense, and special teams. Just to provide depth to this post.

Offense: I think the weakest link I see on this offense breaks down to one position. Left Tackle. People pretty much think that Mike Adams will get the spot and i agree but i have noticed people on this site defending him for the sake of defending him. He has below average strength or at least showed that at the combine (I think it was a scheme to get drafted by the Steelers), he's not a steam roller in the running game he is just above average, and to me i think he carries himself like a guy that would be down on himself if he gets beat on a play and ends up sucking the next one. He does have positives as well and more than i listed as bad.

My main concern is I expect him to get beat a lot at first (He's a rookie of course it will happen) but its the confidence and maturity that scares me from having high hopes for him THIS season. I think he will be very good just not sure if he will show that potential this season or just be a decent starter. What may save him is he does have phenomenal footwork in the pass blocking game and we can use that even in runblocking by having him conatin the outside and not letting penetration on runs between the LG and C. Look for Beachum to surprise this year and give our tackle position depth as well as G.

Defense: It seems to me that we are still going to have a big fall of on buck linebacker with Foote. Think about the logic: Farrior was a far better linebacker and Foote was always behind him in skill level. He isn't faster or quicker or even has the read skills Farrior did. That doesn't institute too much excitement in my mind if he is the starter. Farrior was suspect in the Cover 2 that we ran last year giving up more big plays than we are used to seeing from TEs. I think we shouldn't rule out Timmons to move to Buck since he has noticably gained more mass, and possibly give Spence a shot (realistically not going to happen) or keep Timmons at Mack and have Sly move in there. I say this because I think Timmons can call the plays.

Honorable Mention: I considered the D-line being the weak link but I doubt it. There are plenty proven and capable guys and its more of a question of who will win in the starting spots more than there actually being a hole.

Special Teams: I think its obvious that Suisham is the weak link.

Another notation that i want to add to the Offense is: I looked at the running back situation and we have a lot of guys with a lot of potential and can show that they know how to perform as well as a lot of versatility in that position even if we didn't have Mendy at all. Our receivers are very deep even with out Wallace we are still a pretty guaranteed three deep with promise from Clemons.


07-03-2012, 08:20 AM
Pittsburgh Steelers camp outlook: Out with old, in with new for team in transition
Published 2 days and 18 hours ago Last updated 12 hours and 52 minutes ago
Gerry Dulac Sporting News

Editor's note: With offseason work across the league coming to an end, the focus shifts to the steamy summer workouts ahead. The countdown to training camp has begun. To get you fully primed for the preseason and beyond, Sporting News provides in-depth looks at all 32 teams leading into camps. Today: Pittsburgh Steelers. Tuesday: Cleveland Browns.

PITTSBURGH — It is a season of significant change for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only is it the biggest year of adjustment in coach Mike Tomlin’s six-season tenure, it is one of the biggest in recent memory for the franchise.
Ben Roethlisberger will operate with a new offensive coordinator. (AP Photo)

The change begins on offense, where the team went outside the organization for the first time since 1989, when Chuck Noll hired Joe Walton, to find an offensive coordinator. It also includes a wideout position that for the first time in 15 years will not have Hines Ward — the team’s all-time leader in receptions and yards.

That’s not all. The defense will be minus two of its biggest and best longtime players — defensive end Aaron Smith and inside linebacker James Farrior. They were each released in the offseason, along with longtime backup nose tackle Chris Hoke, creating a leadership void as big as the Golden Triangle in the locker room.

It’s not often a team decides to cut three of its captains — Ward (offense), Farrior (defense) and Arnaz Battle (special teams) — in one offseason. But that’s what the Steelers did as they attempt to transition from a team that had the NFL's oldest roster to one that is prepared to fill significant gaps with younger players.
What’s new: Offense

Despite leading an offense that produced a 4,000-yard quarterback, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard running back, Bruce Arians was not retained as coordinator and was replaced by former Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley.

The offense will still revolve around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and receivers Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, but Haley will also introduce more elements of the running game that will help take the pressure off Roethlisberger. The scheme will include using a fullback and more passes to the running backs.

The Steelers also used their top two 2012 Draft picks to bolster the offensive line. They expect first-round pick David DeCastro to immediately start at right guard and will eventually insert second-rounder Mike Adams at right or left tackle. They opened that possibility by moving right tackle Willie Colon to left guard, a position he hasn’t played before.

What’s new: Defense

Despite an aging unit and numerous injuries, the Steelers led the NFL in total defense and pass defense in 2011. However, their once-proud rush defense looked more mortal than ever.

That could be the same this season because the middle of the defense has several major issues. It starts with five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton, who is coming off ACL surgery at age 35 and is hoping to be ready for the regular season, not training camp.

And the loss of Farrior is a big blow because he was the leader of the defense and the player who helped get his teammates lined up in the right spots. However, what really hurt the team last season was nagging injuries to standout outside linebackers LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison. Woodley was never the same after a severe hamstring injury that caused him to effectively miss seven of the final eight regular-season games.

Both players, though, are fully recovered, which could solve some of the problems the defense might otherwise face.
Camp goals

1. Develop an RB rotation. Rashard Mendenhall's knee injury and ACL surgery after the season, means he might not return until after the start of the regular season. And that means the team will have to find another back to spell Isaac Redman, who will carry the bulk of the load.

The Steelers want to find out in the preseason whether rookie speedster Chris Rainey deserves four or five touches a game to make plays. And they must get plenty of time for Baron Batch, a seventh-round pick last year who will step in as the third-down back. Batch tore an ACL in training camp last year and missed the season.

2. Build an offensive line. The alterations in the offensive line are necessary to help improve the protection for Roethlisberger, who turned 30 in March. That’s why the team drafted DeCastro and Adams in the first two rounds and will give them every opportunity to become first-year starters.

The changes up front include Marcus Gilbert, who shifts from right to left tackle, and Colon, who moves from right tackle to left guard after effectively missing the past two seasons because of injuries.

3. Get QB, coordinator to mesh. This will likely be the most closely watched aspect of training camp and the regular season — how Roethlisberger responds to and interacts with Haley.

Roethlisberger enjoyed an easy, comfortable relationship with Arians. But Haley is more volatile and confrontational, which means Roethlisberger will have to adapt to his style, not just his offense.
Breakout player

The Steelers decided to part with former starting cornerbacks Bryant McFadden and William Gay after the season, and one of the reasons is Curtis Brown — a third-round choice in 2011. Brown did not play in any of the defensive packages last season, but he caught the eye of the coaches when he led the team in special teams tackles (15) despite missing the final four games.

Brown (6-0, 185) showed on special teams that he is fast, athletic, tough and relentless. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will have him challenge fourth-year player Keenan Lewis for the starting corner spot opposite Ike Taylor. “Curtis Brown is a beast,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said.
Bottom line

Despite all the changes and departures, the Steelers still have the necessary ingredients to be a playoff team. The players they lost in the offseason, with the possible exception of Farrior, were not significant on-field contributors in 2011.

With a quarterback such as Roethlisberger and a defense that annually is among the league’s best, the Steelers are never out of any game and never out of any season. Training camp will be an important time to develop their young players on defense and put the right pieces together in the offensive line.

Prediction: Third, AFC North

Gerry Dulac covers the Steelers for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Sporting News.

07-08-2012, 05:17 PM
Yes, Adams can protect Ben's blind side.
Yes, Redman can carry the load.

The only part of this i don't agree with is the quote "the Steelers should just stop being stingy and pay up.". Number one, they're not stingy..they're smart. Number two, they're not going to, or should they, OVER-pay for Mike Wallace. And number three, you can't just "give" all the money to one guy when there is and will be coming up numerous other guys who are going to fetch big, big bucks.

07-09-2012, 12:29 AM
Offseason Breakdown: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh running back Isaac Redman has averaged 4.5 yards per carry during his brief NFL career. (AP)

With NFL training camps just around the corner, we’re taking a team-by-team look at how the offseason played out and what you can expect in 2012. Click here to read them all.

Pittsburgh has long been one of the NFL’s steadiest and most reliable franchises. An offseason spent purging and restocking the roster will put that consistency to the test.

Two years removed from a Super Bowl loss to the Packers, the Steelers will be asking more of their young core of players than at any point in recent memory. That said, the Pittsburgh roster would still be the envy of a large number of teams in the league.

This season could go any number of ways for Pittsburgh, which lost a tiebreaker for the AFC North to Baltimore last season and then bowed out in the first round of the playoffs.

It’s always Super Bowl or bust in the Steel City, but will expectations have to change this year?

2011 Record: 12-4 (t-first in AFC North; lost wild-card round game to Broncos)
Key Additions: OT Mike Adams, G David DeCastro, NT Alameda Ta’amu
Key Subtractions: LB James Farrior, CB William Gay, NT Chris Hoke, G Chris Kemoeatu, CB Bryant McFadden, DE Aaron Smith, OT Max Starks, WR Hines Ward
Team Strengths: WR, QB, OLB, S
Team Weaknesses: RB, CB, ILB
Three Things to Watch

1. Will there be a leadership void?: Between them, Ward, Hoke, Smith, Farrior and Kemoeatu played 55 combined seasons with the Steelers. Somehow, Pittsburgh has to figure out how to replace those players, on and off the field, after a rash of retirements and cost-cutting moves this offseason.

Farrior, especially, had been a linchpin on Pittsburgh’s defense, starting all but six regular-season games at linebacker since 2002. Meanwhile, Ward, a 1998 third-round pick by Pittsburgh, has long been one of the faces of the franchise and was the steady, veteran presence on a young and developing receiving corps in recent seasons.

Even if the salary cap-induced roster bloodletting helped Pittsburgh undergo a much-needed youth movement, it’s impossible to plug that kind of experience and familiarity back into the lineup.

Because of that, the onus will fall on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to lead the way, even more so than in the past. He’ll need some help from guys like LaMarr Woodley and Mike Wallace (if the latter ever signs his restricted free agent tender and reports). A host of veterans still remains: Troy Polamalu, Larry Foote, James Harrison and Heath Miller, to name a few. Still, given how much emotional roster turnover Pittsburgh has undergone in the last few months, some shaky moments are likely.

2. Can Isaac Redman hold down the fort at RB?: The torn ACL that Rashard Mendenhall suffered in Week 17 last season figures to have some long-ranging consequences for the Steelers. Peter King reported in June that Mendenhall likely will miss several weeks of the 2012 regular season, meaning he’s a safe bet to start the year on the PUP list.

That outlook shifts all the attention to fourth-year back Redman, who churned out 121 yards rushing in Mendenhall’s stead during Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to Denver. Redman has shown himself to be a serviceable back when given the chance, notching 479 yards on 110 carries last season and averaging 4.5 yards per carry in his brief career.

What he has not done yet, however, is carry the load for an extended period of time. The three guys behind him on the depth chart (John Clay, Jonathan Dwyer and rookie Chris Rainey) have a total of 192 NFL rushing yards between them, so the onus is clearly on Redman.

Pittsburgh is not nearly as run-heavy as it used to be — nor should it be with Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and others at wide receiver — but a huge drop-off in the backfield would limit the team’s offensive options.

If Redman struggles mightily, it also would make it easier for defenses to key on Roethlisberger, which won’t make the quarterback feel too confident after he was sacked a whopping 40 times last season. Plain and simple, Pittsburgh needs Redman to be effective until Mendenhall can return.

3. How good will the rookies be?: If each NFL team’s salary-cap situation were compared to a country’s economic standing, the Steelers would have been Greece heading into this offseason. Pittsburgh found itself millions and millions over the 2012 cap, which not only led to the shuttling of guys like Ward (via semi-forced retirement) and Farrior, but more or less left the Steelers without the option of diving into the free-agent market.

So, the draft became hugely important for Pittsburgh’s reloading efforts.

And the Steelers appeared to nail it. They snatched up Stanford guard DeCastro in Round 1, after he somehow tumbled to No. 24; they added Ohio State tackle Adams in Round 2; and then they rounded things out with Rainey, who’s expected to contribute in the backfield and on special teams, linebacker Sean Spence and nose tackle Ta’amu.

DeCastro and Adams already are penciled into the starting lineup, while Ta’amu could see major minutes behind Steve McClendon at nose tackle. The DeCastro/Adams tandem will be asked to help upgrade a struggling offensive line that suddenly looks built for the future — right tackle Marcus Gilbert was a second-round pick last year, and center Maurkice Pouncey a first-rounder in 2010.

Baltimore continues to remain a strong AFC contender, and Cincinnati came out of nowhere last year to challenge. Even as Cleveland continues its perpetual rebuild, Pittsburgh has its hands full in the division.

There remains enough talent here for the Steelers to make a run. Barring a complete collapse, they should be in the mix for a playoff berth, and their potentially explosive offense and playmaking defense will keep them a threat if they get to the postseason.

If there was a year when Pittsburgh might take a step back, though, it would be this one.

Hawaii 5-0
07-09-2012, 01:48 AM
Steelers need young defensive players to step up

By Marc Sessler
Published: July 6, 2012

Warren Sapp (playing to character) ruffled feathers last season when he tagged the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense as old, slow and on the way out. That war cry was premature.

The Steelers finished with the league's top unit -- easy to forget after the disaster flick we witnessed in Denver.

Tim Tebow, of all souls, fried Pittsburgh in an AFC wild-card overtime thriller, sending the Steelers home as a confused bunch.

The offseason has brought change: Aaron Smith has retired; James Farrior is out the door, and cornerback William Gay won't be back in 2012. Many of the Steelers veterans are aging (Brett Keisel and his flowing beard are 33; James Harrison -- still terrifying -- is 34). This remains one of the NFL's best defenses, but the time is now for youth to fill in the gaps for coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Who's under the microscope? Let's start here:

1. Cameron Heyward: The Steelers have taught proper 3-4 defense to the rest of the league for years. Versatile play from your down linemen is key to this scheme and Heyward is a building block at defensive end. He's an intriguing physical prospect, but didn't start a game last in 2011 after being slowed by offseason surgery. He wasn't asked to carry much weight as a rookie, but the training wheels are off.

2. Ziggy Hood: Another former first-round pick along the defensive line, Hood is Heyward's key competition to fill the void left by Aaron Smith. Hood also plays inside, but Casey Hampton (another 30-something) remains penciled in at nose tackle, if he can stay healthy. Hood shed pounds and gained muscle this offseason, and remains an intriguing pass rusher.

3. The young defensive backfield: Teams are using three-plus DBs throughout games, especially against a weapon-rich team like the New England Patriots. Pittsburgh has a crew of young cornerbacks ready to see an increased workload. Keenan Lewis is the likely starter across from Ike Taylor, but Cortez Allen could make his case in training camp. Curtis Brown will see the field in nickel situations. The trio must prove they belong in Pittsburgh.

Let's pump the brakes on the "old and slow" jokes, but for the Steelers to remain at the top, these younger players must emerge in 2012.