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Old 08-15-2007, 07:49 AM   #1
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Default McFadden waits and waits

McFadden waits and waits
But turn to start nowhere in sight
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If there is a competition to be the starter at right cornerback in the Steelers' defense, perhaps someone should tell Bryant McFadden.

While other positions have rotated starters in training camp and preseason games, including in the secondary, McFadden wonders when he will get his turn.

While players such as center Sean Mahan, offensive tackle Willie Colon and safety Anthony Smith have received at least one week to work with their respective first-team units, McFadden is going through another week at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe as the backup to veteran Deshea Townsend at cornerback.

Just as he has every week since the start of training camp.

"That's how it's been since day one," McFadden said. "It's pretty much been that same kind of deal."

And that is not likely to change this week, either, when the Steelers play their third preseason game Saturday night against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md.

McFadden and Townsend were expected to be among the featured combatants in one of the battles at training camp, along with Smith and Ryan Clark at free safety, Colon and Max Starks at right tackle and Mahan and Chukky Okobi at center. The gauntlet was thrown down by coach Mike Tomlin in the offseason, when he cited right cornerback as one of the positions open for competition.

Instead, Townsend has started both games at right cornerback and continues to work with the first-team defense in practice this week.

"It's my job to go play," Townsend said. "The coaches will make a decision. As long as you see it like that, then you don't worry about the speculation."

Nonetheless, it has caused McFadden, a No. 2 draft choice in 2005, to wonder what happened to the competition.

"I was thinking the same thing," he said. "I really didn't ask any questions. I just come out here and play my best and do what I do. I don't know how it's going to go the rest of camp, but I'm still with the second team."

And it appears it might remain that way for a while.

Tomlin was noncommittal yesterday when asked if McFadden will eventually get a turn with the first-team defense.

"I kind of like the way it's going right now," Tomlin said. "But we'll remain open-minded about that."

Just last week, Tomlin appeared to boost McFadden's chances when he said, "Bryant McFadden is a young guy that's on the rise. He's got starter skills. The other guys, of course, have had solid camps. We're just going to continue to watch that situation develop."

For now, though, McFadden is the team's nickel back, which means he is the extra player in the secondary when the Steelers use five defensive backs. In that scheme, he lines up at right cornerback, and Townsend, a 10-year veteran, moves to the slot to take advantage of his blitzing ability.

Townsend is accustomed to the role: He was the team's nickel back before he became a starter in the second half of the 2003 season.

"When I first came in, that's what I always played, so I'm comfortable at it," Townsend said. "You got to do a lot of talking and you have to get guys lined up in the right spots."

McFadden started nine games last season, including the final seven when Townsend missed two games with an injury and Ike Taylor was benched by former coach Bill Cowher. McFadden also started two other games when Townsend was injured but still played as an extra back in the nickel and dime defense.

McFadden finished tied for the team lead with three interceptions and had a big game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making 12 tackles and doing something the Steelers had a difficult time performing last season -- stopping a fade pass in the end zone with an interception.

"I didn't come here to always be second-fiddle," McFadden said. "My goal was to learn and get myself prepared to make that next step, which is to be a starter. It's going to happen. That's the way I feel. I'm not really waiting for it. I'm just trying to progress. Whatever happens, happens."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07227/809480-66.stm
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Old 08-15-2007, 08:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: McFadden waits and waits

IMO McFadden deserves his chance to compete for the starting position. Townsend is decent, but McFadden would be a big upgrade at the position. He is younger, faster, and plays smart also. McFadden and Ike starting at the CB positions would give us one of the best secondary's in the league.
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Old 08-15-2007, 08:55 AM   #3
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Default Re: McFadden waits and waits

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCSTILLER View Post
IMO McFadden deserves his chance to compete for the starting position. Townsend is decent, but McFadden would be a big upgrade at the position. He is younger, faster, and plays smart also. McFadden and Ike starting at the CB positions would give us one of the best secondary's in the league.
I agree and I think McFadden will get his chance to start in the final two preseason games.
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Old 08-15-2007, 08:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: McFadden waits and waits

Since it is not exactly Mel Blount who is starting ahead of him, maybe McFadden simply is not as good as we hope him to be.

The coaches presumably would like to upgrade from Deshea if someone would step up.
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Old 08-15-2007, 09:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: McFadden waits and waits

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Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan View Post
Since it is not exactly Mel Blount who is starting ahead of him, maybe McFadden simply is not as good as we hope him to be.

The coaches presumably would like to upgrade from Deshea if someone would step up.
I also think this is nothing more than a case of "not cutting the mustard."
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Old 08-15-2007, 09:05 AM   #6
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Default Re: McFadden waits and waits

From what I've heard, Townsend is looking pretty damn good up in camp and actually looks better this year in camp than years past. If Deshea is at the level reported, then I guess he has earned the start. It's not as if we are dealing with a coach who will automatically choose the veteran over the younger guy. Those days are long gone.

In a perfect world, I would have liked to have seen McFadden take over this year and see Deshea play more nickel back. I feel he is better suited playing nickel back at this point in his career and let the younger and faster McFadden line up across from a #1 WR.

But as Dan stated and going by reports out of camp, they must see something in Townsend at this point in the season that they are not seeing in McFadden. I could easily see that changing before the season is over, but at this point it looks as if Deshea will be the starter come 9/9.
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Old 08-15-2007, 09:11 AM   #7
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Default Re: McFadden waits and waits

Ah the Steelers secondary. My secondary concern behind special teams. I don't worry about Ike, because coach has him doing well, and I think he is an above average player.

Last year, I think McFadden did well when he played. He beats Deshea in stats last year. I think he is a solid cornerback; besides, Champ Bailey had only 3 picks when he left Washington, and now look at him (10 last year). I'm not saying McFadden is champ, but I'd say it's a good time for change.
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Old 08-15-2007, 09:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: McFadden waits and waits

I like McFadden
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Old 08-15-2007, 11:35 AM   #9
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Default Re: McFadden waits and waits

Well, as long as we got Ike as #1 CB I'm happy, the rest CB positions are up for grabs. Maybe not this year but next, but Bryant has got to start. He's really proved himself last season and in this year's preseason. Someone who should be starting is Anthony Smith though
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Old 08-15-2007, 12:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: McFadden waits and waits

I havn't been impressed with Deshea in years....he is good off the blitz but has awful reaction times to the pass. I was truly hoping that McFadden would step up and be our #2 CB. I wonder if this is more of a matter of McFadden not stepping up to the plate...than it is of Deshea showing us something more that the last two years?
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