Re: Team Report
(Fox) June 27th
The coaches were really impressed in minicamp with rookie LB Rian Wallace, an inside linebacker from Temple. That is good news for a position that will need some depth after the free-agent loss of ILB Kendrell Bell. Larry Foote, who started every game in 2005, has developed into a dependable player who takes good angles to the ball and has the ability to play in pass coverage. But Bell's loss created a depth problem inside, and Wallace looks as though he will be the answer. The coaches like his toughness and instincts. . . .
The decision to re-sign veteran S Travis Carter is an indication the team is not sure about Mike Logan, who has beset with injuries the past couple years. Logan, a former starter missed nearly the entire 2004 season with injury. In his absence, first-year S Russell Stuvaints spent time in the dime defense and impressed the coaches with his speed and ball reaction.
SCOUTING REPORT: The team will try to use DE Travis Kirschke even more this season because starter Kimo von Oelhoffen is 34 and in the last year of his contract. Kirschke, a free-agent pickup in 2004, played very well last season, showing good strength and explosion off the ball. He also does a good job using his hands inside to shed blockers. Kirschke often played in the dime defense as one of two pass-rushers, but he is primarily an inside rusher who will not threaten to the outside.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Secondary coach Darren Perry will have a tough job this season because he has lost his most experienced cornerback, Chad Scott, who was released, and has to hope that either veteran Willie Williams or second-year CB Ricardo Colclough can step in. Williams started 12 games after Scott was injured last season and the team was 11-1 with him as a starter. But Williams is in his 13th season and is susceptible to getting beat deep. Perry will also have to get rookie No. 2 Bryant McFadden ready in a hurry.
INSIDE DISH: The Steelers and four-time Pro Bowl WR Hines Ward are talking about a contract extension, but the sides remain far apart and probably won't get a deal done until the beginning of training camp. Ward, who is in the final year of his contract, is in a good bargaining position because the Steelers let their other starting receiver, Plaxico Burress, leave in free agency.
TIGHT ENDS ANALYSIS: GRADE C-plus: The addition of rookie No. 1 Heath Miller will drastically improve the position because it gives the team a quality pass-catcher over the middle. It will make Jerame Tuman a better No. 2 tight end.