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Old 06-14-2007, 11:16 PM   #1
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Default Steelers lineup set ... for now

Steelers lineup set ... for now
Friday, June 15, 2007

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Coach Mike Tomlin penciled in starters at several contested positions when he ended the Steelers' spring practices yesterday, emphasizing that's precisely how they're written -- in pencil.

The more permanent ink won't be used until well into training camp.

"You define guys on how they play this game when they play it in pads," Tomlin said. "I like what I saw out there, but I am not making decisions on what I saw in this offseason."

Because someone has to go first, Chukky Okobi will open training camp with the first team at center over Sean Mahan; Deshea Townsend over Bryant McFadden at right cornerback; Ryan Clark over Anthony Smith at free safety; Max Starks at right tackle over Willie Colon; and Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

That last one was a ringer, even if Tomlin talked as if not many positions are written in ink yet.

"No job is secure," Tomlin insisted. "This is not a security business and if they are looking for security, they need to find a new line of work."

Of course, players such as Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, Alan Faneca, Marvel Smith, Heath Miller, the entire defensive line and halfback Willie Parker have as much job security as any NFL players. But Tomlin, as a new coach, probably will be quicker to make changes than Bill Cowher might have been.

"I told those guys that I am going to base my decision on them and what they do on a day-to-day basis, not their reputation or resume -- and I mean what I say in that regard," Tomlin said.

"People want to establish depth charts at this time of year, which is good, so be it. They change. I am not worried about who the starting center is or who the starting corners are. I am worried about acquiring guys that are capable of doing a job and fighting it out in Latrobe and in the preseason."

One player who has worked himself back into the good graces with the new regime is left cornerback Ike Taylor. Benched by Cowher last November, Taylor ran all spring with the first team as McFadden and Townsend rotated on the right side.

"There are known position battles that everybody knows about," Tomlin said, "but there are also unknown position battles that are going to develop, because we are going to go into this thing with no preconceived notions. We are going to base our decisions on what we see in training camp."

Some other observations by Tomlin as he shut things down until training camp:

Roethlisberger has performed well.

"He is a tremendous competitor and he's a very talented guy. He communicated well with all of the other players. He's kind of a ball junkie. I didn't know that about him, but he is talking about football on a day-to-day basis. He is really into it and I was very pleased with him."

Rookie linebacker Lawrence Timmons tried to practice this week, but the coach opted to give him more time to rest his injured groin. Tomlin said the team's top draft pick should be ready to practice at the start of training camp, and he hoped he would miss no time because of contract talks.

"I think if you did a study on people who missed parts of training camp during their rookie year, the result would not be good and I think he knows that. Not only him, but everybody."

Tomlin will have more twice-daily practices than the Steelers have had in past training camps. "It will give them something to whine about."

Players were introduced to different positions this spring, just in case.

"Corners played nickel, corners played dime, safeties played nickel and dime, Deshea Townsend played some safety, linebackers flopped around. Wideouts exchanged positions. Tailbacks played fullback, etc. That has kind of been something that we impressed upon them all offseason. The more that you can do, the more that you are willing to do, adds value."

Toward that end, Colon not only competed to take Starks' right tackle job from him, he practiced at guard and center.

"Willie is pushing a lot of people. He has been one of the guys that we have moved around quite a bit, because we want to put him in a position to get into the top five."

His parting message to his players: "I want them to enjoy themselves, prepare themselves and to not be The Guy ... simply, not being one of 'the guys' we are usually seeing in the headlines this time of year. The guys that are making the headlines this time of year are not the type of guy that we are looking for. Don't be The Guy."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07166/794291-66.stm
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Old 06-14-2007, 11:54 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers lineup set ... for now

Quote:
"It will give them something to whine about."
lol. this is starting to become typical, unflappable, tomlin.

i like the quotes on colon. he may not unseat a veteran now, but his time is coming and it seems clear he has a future in pittsburgh, and we will be able to sign him to a bargain contract for his most valuable years.

im sure we will hear grumblings about deshea and clark not being immediately turned into high priced back ups, but its clear tomlin is thinking nothing but playoffs and championship. being we are in the same position the patriots were in in 2003, i would expect nothing less.

mcfadden and smith definitely seem to be the future of our secondary. despite the talent, bringing them along slowly is a benefit if clark and deshea can get the job done. after this year is when we sign them to a long term contract at a friendly contract fopr their most productive years.

this is simply the rooney way in progress. the team is not missing a beat. despite the loss of cowher and porter, when it comes to sundays i am still expecting to see the same old steelers out on the field.

we lost rod woodson and made the superbowl. we lost barry foster and made it to the superbowl. we lost chuck noll, and immediately got back to prominence...
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Old 06-15-2007, 12:30 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers lineup set ... for now

Quote:
and Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.
I like this pick... Especially with guys like Culpepper out there in FA.

I'm gonna call it now. This kid's gonna go places...
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Old 06-15-2007, 02:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers lineup set ... for now

I hope we see alot of anthony smith this year.
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Old 06-15-2007, 05:05 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers lineup set ... for now

One player who has worked himself back into the good graces with the new regime is left cornerback Ike Taylor.

This will make a huge difference on defense if Ike returns to his play from a couple of years ago.
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Old 06-15-2007, 07:33 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers lineup set ... for now

I'll go on record now as saying that out of the trio of Townsend/Starks/Okobi.....two out of three of them will not be starting by the beginning of the season.....and there is a strong chance that none of them are.........
.........hopefully.
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Old 06-15-2007, 11:26 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers lineup set ... for now

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Originally Posted by Crushzilla View Post
I like this pick... Especially with guys like Culpepper out there in FA.

I'm gonna call it now. This kid's gonna go places...
Yaya Ben is gonna be better than ever this year and for years to come.
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Old 06-15-2007, 11:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers lineup set ... for now

I really like what I'm hearing about Tomlin and the direction he's taking the team. I know we haven't seen much you can take the bank yet, but the work ethic, attitude, and flexibility are all big positives in my book.

Between Tomlin challenging veterans to earn their jobs and the players reacting to the sting of going 8-8 as defending champs, I think we are going to see some fire this year.
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Old 06-15-2007, 12:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers lineup set ... for now

I'd rather see Anthony Smith penciled in at this point. That hit against TJ against Cinci still gives me an exuberant amount of giddiness. But hey, at least Smith knows where he is (for now) on the depth chart.

I'm hoping to see him get more playing time in the nickel and dime packages so he can lay the lumber on someone else other than TJ.
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Old 06-15-2007, 08:56 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers lineup set ... for now

Quote:
Originally Posted by lamberts-lost-tooth View Post
I'll go on record now as saying that out of the trio of Townsend/Starks/Okobi.....two out of three of them will not be starting by the beginning of the season.....and there is a strong chance that none of them are.........
.........hopefully.
I think you are right, but the nice thing about competition like this, is if these guys do start, you know they really improved and had to fight and earn it. With a new coach, I don't think there will be much slacking this year.
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