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Old 08-07-2007, 10:00 AM   #1
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Default Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks
By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, August 7, 2007

As it turns out Max Starks will not be easily moved, unless it's to the other side of the offensive line by design.

Starks, a fourth-year pro and a free-agent-to-be at the conclusion of the 2007 season, remains the Steelers' starting right offensive tackle. But he also worked at left offensive tackle in the preseason opener against New Orleans on Sunday night, as a hedge against the potential emergency that would exist if something should happen to Marvel Smith.

"At this point he's a swing tackle for us, a guy that's capable of playing right and left," head coach Mike Tomlin said.

Starks hadn't been as highly thought of at the conclusion of the Steelers' offseason program.

Back then Starks was overweight, out of shape, still nursing a knee injury that cost him the final two games of the 2006 season and threatening to take up permanent residence in the dog house.

Back then, Tomlin made no secret of how hard second-year pro Willie Colon was pushing for Starks' job.

Now, Starks is being groomed to protect Ben Roethlisberger's blind side if needed, and Colon is being readied to replace Starks in just such a scenario.

It's all part of a concept Tomlin calls position flexibility.

"We understand that things are going to happen," Tomlin said. "Guys need to be able to play multiple positions and handle multiple jobs.

"That's kind of a big one, talking about a guy being able to slide over and play left tackle in a football game."

Starks estimated he hasn't done that since his rookie year when "Marvel lost a shoe."

Trai Essex had been the "swing tackle" the previous two seasons, starting four games at left tackle and appearing in six during the Steelers' Super Bowl season of 2005.

The preference now appears to be Starks replacing Smith and Colon replacing Starks, if necessary.

Starks doesn't see that as an endorsement of his play in training camp, but acknowledges "you have to have a guy you can trust on the quarterback's blind side."

As for the pressure to perform that was applied and implied back in the spring, "They were still unsure what the scheme was going to be and how they were going to use all their guys," Starks said. "And I was just coming off knee surgery, so they really didn't get to see me play football.

"I had an OK year last year; I'm not going to say I had a great year. If you look at our record you have to say it was a step back. When you had a Super Bowl season the year before and you go 8-8, you have to say there was something wrong. For all of us, it wasn't a great year. Ask any guy in this locker room that played with us last year and they're going to say the same thing."

Starks' performance in camp has suggested this year will be different.

Tomlin concurs, and is apparently depending on that.

"Thankfully, we were able to get (Starks) a snap or two against (the Saints') really good end, Will Smith," Tomlin said. "That was important."

Starks remains that to the Steelers.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_520906.html
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Old 08-07-2007, 10:13 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

Starks scares me at Left Tackle. Did anyone notice on Bens only incomplete pass that he would have been crushed had the Saints pass rusher not let up. He ran right past Starks while he was still at RT.
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Old 08-07-2007, 11:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

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Starks scares me at Left Tackle. Did anyone notice on Bens only incomplete pass that he would have been crushed had the Saints pass rusher not let up. He ran right past Starks while he was still at RT.
He actually played well at LT on Sunday. The one sack that he gave up I blame Batch for holding the ball too long. Besides, I don't know if Essex is any better at LT.
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Old 08-07-2007, 11:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

Lets just hope Smith stays healthy.
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

When Starks gets beat, he gets beat bad.

I don't feel good about him at all. His footwork is just too slow and he never seems to be under control but seems to be overextending his arms too much.
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

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Starks scares me at Left Tackle. Did anyone notice on Bens only incomplete pass that he would have been crushed had the Saints pass rusher not let up. He ran right past Starks while he was still at RT.
Yep, I noticed it too. In this context does the word "swing" mean the same thing as "turnstile?"
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

he is too big and slow to play as a premier offensive tackle, he needs to be playing gaurd. i think he needs to take kendall's job and colon and take the tackle spot.
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

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Yep, I noticed it too. In this context does the word "swing" mean the same thing as "turnstile?"
damn, you beat me to it
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Old 08-07-2007, 02:02 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

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Yep, I noticed it too. In this context does the word "swing" mean the same thing as "turnstile?"
Hey thats my nickname for Starks....turnstile...lol
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Old 08-07-2007, 02:35 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers grooming new 'swing' tackle Starks

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He actually played well at LT on Sunday. The one sack that he gave up I blame Batch for holding the ball too long. Besides, I don't know if Essex is any better at LT.
I share your sentiments, SteelFist. Charlie did hold onto the ball too long and was firmly planted on his hiney. I like the multiple position players idea. Other NFL teams have successfully incorporated this into their systems and I see no reason why the Steelers, with their depth, can't be successful with this as well.
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