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Old 04-22-2007, 10:39 AM   #1
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Default Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, April 22, 2007

He didn't exactly say, "Joey who?"

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau did strongly endorse the player that is expected to replace Joey Porter at right outside linebacker.

"I don't expect us to miss a beat with James Harrison in there at the outside 'backer," LeBeau said Saturday at Steelers minicamp. "Any games that he's played our defense has not missed a beat, and he's always been a contributing factor to that, so I have every confidence in the world in him."

Harrison has been a solid reserve and a superb special teams player for the Steelers, and the 6-foot, 242-pounder has the nasty disposition that is required of a linebacker.

"He's not Joey Porter," veteran inside linebacker James Farrior said, "but he's a great player. We're not expecting any kind of dropoff. He's going to do good things out there."

One thing the Steelers have to like about Harrison: The fourth-year veteran is not assuming anything, including replacing the departed Porter.

That is not surprising, considering Harrison was cut several times by the Steelers -- he was released by other teams as well -- prior to the 2004 season.

LeBeau, for one, doesn't seem to have any doubts about Harrison not only winning the starting job but playing at a high level at Porter's old position.

"I think he'll do a great job there," LeBeau said.

No double-duty yet

Sean Mahan has played exclusively at guard during the first two days of minicamp, but he is still expected to compete for the starting job at center.

Mahan, the Steelers' only significant free-agent signing this year, has not lined up at center simply because the Steelers want to avoid system overload.

"At some point we'll cross-train him," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "There's going to be some position flexibility with him. That's part of what attracted us to him."

Mahan started 28 games at guard the previous two seasons for the Buccaneers but made eight starts at center for Tampa Bay in 2004.

Chukky Okobi has been playing center with the first team, but Mahan also could see some action at the position today and certainly will line up there when the Steelers hold another minicamp May 11-13.

Sidelined ... sort of

Punter Chris Gardocki spent the first two days of minicamp as more of a coach than anything else.

The 17-year veteran hasn't done any kicking because he has what Tomlin called a minor back problem.

Gardocki, Tomlin said, has been helping Mike Barr, who is the only other punter on the Steelers' roster.

"We know what (Gardocki) can do," Tomlin said. "He's been there, done that."

Gardocki's hold on his job appears to be tenuous.

The Steelers made a contract offer to restricted free agent Andy Lee last month, but the 49ers matched it. They could take a punter late in next week's NFL draft or sign an undrafted free agent to compete with Gardocki and Barr.

Extra points

Tomlin hasn't ruled out the Steelers re-signing running back Verron Haynes, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last October in a game at Oakland. Haynes had been the Steelers' third-down back before tearing his ACL. The Steelers released him last month. ... The Steelers conclude minicamp today. They will hold a morning practice at their South Side facility.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_503995.html
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Old 04-22-2007, 10:03 PM   #2
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Default Re: Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

Do you think we'll lose much going from Joey to Harrison?
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Old 04-22-2007, 11:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

I will be sure to mention this good article to James Harrison when I see him on Draft Day.
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Old 04-22-2007, 11:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

From a position player standpoint, no. From a leadership standpoint, no question.

I'm concerned about the vacuum being created from a leadership standpoint on the defensive side of the ball. Porter was all of it for a number of years, and say what you will, a team needs that guy as a spark plug. I've read the talk of Hamp stepping up, and I believe he can, but he isn't a linebacker or someone who can fire up the secondary, I don't think.

I'm nervous about all of this, all of a sudden. :) Pre-draft jitters, thinking about all the post-season stuff, new HC. I've seen a reluctance by Steeler fans you run into out & about to talk football at all, whereas in years past, you would be. People are nervous, just like me, I'm thinking.
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Old 04-22-2007, 11:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

Quote:
Originally Posted by GBMelBlount View Post
Do you think we'll lose much going from Joey to Harrison?
we never did in the past, and he filled in fine for haggans also. i gotta go with tomlin and lebeau on this one.

im sure there would be the same skeptics if it were a younger mike vrabel stepping in for porter.

and leadership is overrated. tomlin is the new defensive leader.
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Old 04-22-2007, 11:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

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Originally Posted by WWIIOwheelz View Post
From a position player standpoint, no. From a leadership standpoint, no question.

I'm concerned about the vacuum being created from a leadership standpoint on the defensive side of the ball. Porter was all of it for a number of years, and say what you will, a team needs that guy as a spark plug. I've read the talk of Hamp stepping up, and I believe he can, but he isn't a linebacker or someone who can fire up the secondary, I don't think.

I'm nervous about all of this, all of a sudden. :) Pre-draft jitters, thinking about all the post-season stuff, new HC. I've seen a reluctance by Steeler fans you run into out & about to talk football at all, whereas in years past, you would be. People are nervous, just like me, I'm thinking.
Thank you... that is one of the smarter posts about losing Joey Porter. I am not as worried as you seem about the loss of leadership. I think we have enough people that can step up and lead.

But great post.
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Old 04-23-2007, 01:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

im more worried about our short-medium range pass defense. joey was good in coverage, and we were still soft against short routes.
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Old 04-23-2007, 03:25 AM   #8
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Default Re: Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

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im more worried about our short-medium range pass defense. joey was good in coverage, and we were still soft against short routes.
I agree with you on that...

but the problem there is the scheme itself. The CB's have a larger area of responsibility in the zone-blitz system then other cb's in a cover-two or other typical defensive system. As a result, they have to actually sit off the receivers and not get tied up until they can read the play.. .much like a linebacker not in a blitz situation. The problem with that is that a QB can take advantage of it, take a three step drop and start hitting quick slants... quick posts.. quick inside slot routes... and there is NOTHING we can do about it... until we adapt the scheming.

I have said it before and I will say it again... I love the zone-blitz, but my fear is that it has been around too long, and team are starting to figure out how to break it down.
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Old 04-23-2007, 06:30 AM   #9
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Default Re: Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

My hubby and I will be getting Harrison's autograph on draft day here in Cinci!!! We were at the sports bar on Saturday where he'll be next Saturday and they said they got the picture of James Harrison bodyslamming that Brown's fan for the autograph!! It will look lovely framed in our computer room!!!
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Old 04-23-2007, 07:24 AM   #10
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Default Re: Notebook: Steelers' Tomlin praises Porter's successor

I think we are going to be just fine with Harrison. I'm with Tony on this one - I'm going with Lebeau's and Tomlin's instincts here.
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