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Old 08-19-2007, 10:59 PM   #1
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Default O-Line still in flux

Steelers offensive line still in flux
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, August 19, 2007

The players are near-unanimous in their desire for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to settle on the starting five along the offensive line.

Of course, democracy has never flourished among football teams, and Tomlin has the only vote that counts.

So far, he's been tougher to budge than Casey Hampton on his stance that he's in no hurry to make a decision on who starts at center and right tackle.

He reiterated it after the Steelers' 12-10 win over the Washington Redskins on Saturday night, even though the offensive line turned in an uneven performance. That raised the question of how beneficial it would be for Tomlin to pick the five that must effectively function as one when they are on the field.

"They're going to be judged by their cumulative body of work, so we'll continue to watch," Tomlin said.

Tomlin only has two more preseason games in which to evaluate his players -- in this case, Chukky Okobi and Sean Mahan at center and Max Starks and Willie Colon at right tackle.

"Of course, I'd like to see (a decision made soon)," said Starks, who's trying to hold off Colon, "but you have to be an obedient player and wait for them to make their decision."

What has complicated the decision-making process is the shuffling the Steelers have done along the offensive line. Some of that has been a product of necessity.

Mahan didn't play in the first preseason game because of an excused absence, and Okobi has missed the past two games because of a rib injury. Starting left tackle Marvel Smith, meanwhile, didn't play Saturday night because of back spasms.

Trai Essex started in his place, and the Steelers had tried Starks at left tackle the previous two games, though he played exclusively at right tackle against the Redskins.

It's debatable whether injuries and experimentation have hindered the emergence of five clear-cut starters up front.

But it was clear Saturday that offensive line remains a work in progress.

The Steelers averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and couldn't get into the end zone, despite driving inside Washington's 5-yard line three times.

"Obviously, there have been some good things and a lot of things we need to work on," said Mahan, the team's only significant free-agent signing during the offseason. "It will be nice when we can kind of solidify the units.

"The more situations you see, the better. So, I'm sure it's something where everyone wants to see happen pretty quickly.

"You need to know what the guy next to you is doing and how he approaches it and how he blocks. There's a lot of communication, and when the bullets are flying, you've got to be able to communicate in a matter of seconds."

Mahan and Colon have started the past two games, but Tomlin doesn't appear ready to anoint them as first stringers -- or go with Okobi and Starks, the players who are still listed first on the depth chart at their respective positions.

All he says now is to stay tuned.

"I think we're going to have cohesion even if we do allow this thing to play out," Tomlin said.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_523030.html
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Old 08-19-2007, 11:05 PM   #2
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Default Re: O-Line still in flux

how long will it take to play out? i mean the season is just around the corner???? i dont care who is on the oline as long as they can block and protect ben and make holes for willie to run thru.
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: O-Line still in flux

as pathetic as the line looked yesterday, they better get it turned around SOON!
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: O-Line still in flux

I really would like for them to get a couple games together as one unit.

Hopefully we will see that starting in what would really be the third preseason game.
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Old 08-20-2007, 02:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: O-Line still in flux

when you have so many poor offensive lineman it's hard to pick the starters. the steelers should have addressed this problem 5 years ago.
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:48 AM   #6
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Default Re: O-Line still in flux

I think the offensive line will be our week spot this year.
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: O-Line still in flux

Quote:
Originally Posted by NCSteeler View Post
I really think all this "lets try this, let's try that" crap with the O line has hurt and is going to hurt into the season . An O line is built on consistancy, trust and understanding the guy next to you. We havn't given these guys time to do that, I'm afraid it will be a weakness all season and our first two picks next year will be O line men. Anyone know who's good coming out next year???
The O line was weak coming into the season...

So we can't really blame Tomlin for that. What I think is being done, is finding out if there is an injury, who can best play where. You know what, I prefer that done in the preseason then in game 14 when we are 1 game in front of the Ravens for AFC champs.
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Old 08-20-2007, 04:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: O-Line still in flux

I'm hoping this is some kind of weird "break them down and build them back up" philosophy. I also hope it's over.
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Old 08-20-2007, 04:06 PM   #9
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Default Re: O-Line still in flux

Quote:
Originally Posted by Preacher View Post
The O line was weak coming into the season...

So we can't really blame Tomlin for that. What I think is being done, is finding out if there is an injury, who can best play where. You know what, I prefer that done in the preseason then in game 14 when we are 1 game in front of the Ravens for AFC champs.


This is what Preseason is about; Seeing what works and seeing what doesn't work. Let's not forget that the Saints, Redskins, and Packers employ a 4-3 defense. We'll also be seeing 4-3 throughout the preseason. If Tomlin needs the time to see who the best combination is, I'm ok with that. It seems right now that the 3-4 teams have some of the toughest defenses, so I am very o-k with Tomlin figuring out the best protection. In this case, when that 3-4 team tries to come off the corner, we see a pocket, not a sack.

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Old 08-20-2007, 04:50 PM   #10
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Default Re: O-Line still in flux

Quote:
Originally Posted by Preacher View Post
The O line was weak coming into the season...

So we can't really blame Tomlin for that. What I think is being done, is finding out if there is an injury, who can best play where. You know what, I prefer that done in the preseason then in game 14 when we are 1 game in front of the Ravens for AFC champs.
The only part missing from the SB Champ O line is Hartings. While Jeff was a great Steelers center, his loss does not make the overall grade "weak".

In fact the interior of the line hasn't been bad thus far in the pre season. Granted the tackle shuffle has been uncomfortable to watch as a fan, but throw the 2006 season out the window.

I think Tomlin will decide his starters this week and we'll see them out there next weekend.

Which ever way it goes, shouldn't we wait until Tomlin has a head coaching record before we start the mock drafts for '08?

Seriously. It's pre season for a new head coach. The sky isn't falling yet.
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