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Old 03-14-2007, 09:09 AM   #1
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Default Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

Okobi will challenge Simmons, Mahan for starting center job

By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Joe Linta can do the math. Chukky Okobi, one of his clients, has three years remaining on his contract and is scheduled to earn about $2.5 million in 2007.

Okobi will challenge Kendall Simmons and new addition Sean Mahan to become the starting center as the Steelers look to replace Jeff Hartings. The fact that Okobi wasn't asked to take a pay cut is good news for his client, Linta said.

Linta spoke with Steelers management and was told Mahan's signing doesn't mean Okobi is no longer a part of the team's plans. Linta said Mahan's five-year, $17 million deal, which includes a $4 million signing bonus, isn't excessive and doesn't guarantee he will start.

"We've talked. Everything's fine. Chukky's been told, I've been told, he will be given every opportunity to start," Linta said Tuesday. "If they gave this kid (Mahan) Eric Steinbach money, that would indicate he was going to start. This is middle-of-the-pack, lower starting guard money."

Steinbach, who plays guard, signed a seven-year, $49.5 million free-agent contract with Cleveland. Mahan, who started at guard for Tampa Bay last season, has the versatility to play center.

Linta said it's incorrect to assume Mahan's signing means Okobi is on the way out.

For starters, the Steelers didn't ask Okobi to take a pay cut, which would be the normal procedure for a player at Okobi's salary level if he were going to be the backup.

"Chukky's premature death was misrepresented," Linta said. "The fact that they didn't ask Chukky to take a pay cut is huge. That tells me they're going to treat him fairly. He won't be making backup pay. If he doesn't beat the guy out, he's going to be a well-paid backup."

Note: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was among 100 NFL personnel in attendance yesterday to watch Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson, defensive tackle Keith Jackson and cornerback Chris Houston at the school's pro day. Anderson and Houston are projected first-round picks. Tomlin is expected to attend Louisiana State's pro day today to watch projected first-round picks Laron Landry (safety) and Dwayne Bowe (wide receiver).

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_497550.html
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Old 03-14-2007, 09:30 AM   #2
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Default Re: Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

If Okobi doesn't win the starting job, I don't see the Steelers holding on to him and his salary. He could be a late cut or trade bait if Mahan, Philip, or Simmons beats him out for the job.
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Old 03-14-2007, 09:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

I doubt Okobi will be on our roster for 2007
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Old 03-14-2007, 11:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

i think mahan should take simmons job, and simmons should be cut
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Old 03-14-2007, 11:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

I also think Simmons could be the odd man out. I could see Mahan starting at guard until either Chris K or Willie Colon step up to start. Then, the Steelers make a decision in 2008 based on whether Faneca is still in the plans.
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Old 03-14-2007, 12:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

Simmons is paid less than Okobi. Thats why I think Simmons will stay and Okobi will be gone
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Old 03-14-2007, 02:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

but okobi is actually good at his position, unlike simmons. simmons would be better at being a fullback rather a OG. chris kemeaoto will probably start in the next couple of years.
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Old 03-14-2007, 02:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

Good luck Chukky, but I see newcomer Mahan starting. As for Simmons let's give him and the rest of the o line time to prove they are better than last season.
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Old 03-14-2007, 04:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

Quote:
Originally Posted by 19ward86 View Post
but okobi is actually good at his position, unlike simmons. simmons would be better at being a fullback rather a OG. chris kemeaoto will probably start in the next couple of years.
Based on what? A few quaters of play against someone's second team?

I'll be honest in that I always viewed Okobi as a pet project of Cowher's. I never saw the potential in him that other people saw. I simply don't see us going to the Super Bowl with Okobi as our starting center.
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Old 03-14-2007, 04:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Okobi to challenge Simmons, Mahan

I'm more than willing to give the o-line a chance, but in all honesty Simmons concerns me. It's now been two years in a row it took him half the season to play good ball. Hopefully he can put together a full season but I'm not holding my breath.
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