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Old 08-29-2007, 05:04 AM   #1
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Default Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Mike Webster was chosen for nine Pro Bowls at this position for the Steelers. Dermontti Dawson made it for seven. Jeff Hartings was an All-Pro there. Chukky Okobi understands what being Pittsburgh's starting center means, not only in the past but now.

That's why he will be so disappointed - no, make that angry - if he isn't.

Right now, he figures to be upset when new coach Mike Tomlin finally reveals who the Steelers' starting offensive linemen will be, something he hasn't done so far in the preseason. Tomlin is planning to wait until after Thursday night's exhibition game against Carolina to reveal his starters.

"I started camp as No. 1 ... but, right now, it seems to be the same (backup) role I've had," Okobi said Tuesday. "I've worked really hard this offseason - look at me, I think I look pretty good - but whatever happens, happens."

Okobi expected this was finally the year he would start, after Hartings retired following six seasons with Pittsburgh. The Steelers kept Okobi around for all of those seasons as a backup and gave him a $10 million contract several years ago - big money for someone with only six career starts.

While Okobi is scheduled to make $2 million this season, the kind of money that's normally paid only to a starter, Okobi is currently running behind Sean Mahan at center. Mahan, a guard-center who started for Tampa Bay when Tomlin was an assistant there, signed a five-year contract during the offseason that included a $4 million signing bonus and thus is certain to make the team.

Okobi opened training camp No. 1 on the depth chart, but Mahan began running ahead of him when Okobi missed time with a rib injury and has remained with the starters.

Though Tomlin hasn't confirmed it, there is every sign that Mahan, left tackle Marvel Smith, left guard Alan Faneca, right guard Kendall Simmons and right tackle Willie Colon will be the starters Sept. 9 in Cleveland. Colon has been practicing ahead of two-year starter Max Starks the last couple of weeks.

That unit started Sunday night's preseason game against Philadelphia and will start again Thursday night at Carolina.

"I missed a bunch of days with an injury and obviously it didn't help my cause any, but I think when I've been in there I've played really, really well," Okobi said. "I've done everything I can to control the situation."

Okobi doesn't have a good feel for the situation because the Steelers also have a new offensive line coach, with Larry Zierlein taking over from Russ Grimm, and offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, who replaced Ken Whisenhunt.

"I'm still in the process of getting to know these guys," Okobi said. "You've got to ask them. Maybe if it was Russ and these guys, I might have an answer. I really don't know what goes on in their staff meetings."

There's also this scenario: Rather than keeping Okobi as a backup if he doesn't start, the Steelers release him and keep Marvin Philip, a sixth-round pick a year ago, as a backup guard-center. Philip has been working at both positions, so it could happen - not many NFL teams can afford to keep three centers.

"This is the NFL and you're trying to get the best 53, and I'm definitely in the top 53 of the guys in this locker room," said Okobi, who is likely to find a job quickly if he's cut. "I'm just going to do what I do and I do it well, that's what kept me in this league, this locker room this long."

But if he's gone this time a week from now ...

"Once one door closes, another one opens," he said. "If I'm not on this roster I think it would be an injustice, but that's what it is, a business. It's a business."

Meanwhile, Faneca, the five-time All-Pro who is unsigned past this season, said there has been no movement by the Steelers toward offering him a new contract. The two sides have not talked for months, and Faneca promised in May this would be his last season in Pittsburgh.

"No, nothing going on in that area," he said. "It's status quo."

http://sports.excite.com/news/08292007/v5480.html
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:15 AM   #2
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Default Re: Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

Do you guys think that he'd be let go if he wasn't there with us the whole time because of his injury? And why are they keep saying he'd find job so quick if he gets cut? If he's that good, why can't we keep him instead of Marvin Philip? A veteran for a novice?
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:54 AM   #3
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Default Re: Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

I think it is pretty obvious with Tomlin that every position is earned and not handed out whether you are a long time vet or a rookie or somewhere in between. I have felt from the first time I saw Sean Mahan in TC that he should start at center or at the very least, play somewhere on that OL, as he was doing a great job blocking and holding defenders back. Tomlin obviously shares my sentiment. I'd hate to see Chukky go, as the guy has patiently awaited his coming out for all of these years, but Tomlin is going to put the best 53 guys on that roster and if in his opinion, Chukky doesn't fit that bill, he will be cut. I have no doubt that Chukky would quickly land a spot with another team. Hey - may the best man win.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:03 AM   #4
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Default Re: Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

Quote:
"If I'm not on this roster I think it would be an injustice, but that's what it is, a business. It's a business."
It's actually very simple. You play good, you make the team. You keep going down with some sort of injury whether it be in camp or during the regular season and if you don't show the coaching staff that your capable of playing your position, obviously your chances of starting diminish.

Last time I checked, that's not business, that's football.

Personally, I was hoping Philip would have stepped up to some degree this year so we could use Okobi as trade bait (Cards?) while Mahan starts at center, but I recall Philip getting bulled over on a couple of occasions and not exactly making big news in camp.
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Old 08-29-2007, 09:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

The line does look better when Okobi is in there as opposed to Mahan though. When Mahan was in there, it was like a jail break in the middle of the line. With Okobi, it wasn't like that and he played pretty well when subbing for Hartings in the past.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

Based on his Q&A yesterday Ed.B. of the P-G thinks Okobi could be released

Is there a real possibility Okobi could be released by Saturday?

Ed Bouchette: Yes. If he's not starting, he may not dress either and $2 million is a lot to pay for that. I think they might roll the dice and go younger with Marvin Philip, who also has been playing guard, as the backup to Sean Mahan.


http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07240/812713-66.stm

Ed.B. also thinks Haynes is odd man out with the RBs
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:38 AM   #7
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Default Re: Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

From what I've seen, Minus blowing a snap in the shotgun during the Redskins game, Mahan has been the only center not getting overpowered. I felt he played particulary well during the Packers game. If I recall correctly, he blocked Hawk to spring Davenport for a five or eight yard gain. He handled the inside LB's just fine in that game (I believe Barnett in particular?) and played well in the run game and he wasn't beaten in pass protection. At the time, he was only going on two days of practice and really only two practice days in the Spring with the first team.

I'll take Mahan over Okobi at center.
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:02 PM   #8
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Default Re: Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

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Originally Posted by BlastFurnace View Post
The line does look better when Okobi is in there as opposed to Mahan though. When Mahan was in there, it was like a jail break in the middle of the line. With Okobi, it wasn't like that and he played pretty well when subbing for Hartings in the past.
I have to strongly disagree with you here, BF. See 83's post above - he states it as good as it can be stated.

Mahan is a beast. I was so impressed with him at TC - he stopped every defender from coming across the line, including Big Snack. Imho - if he can stop Big Snack, he can stop anyone. In addition, the Steelers are paying Mahan a nice chunk of change and Chukky is getting $2 million per season for being a backup - I think the math here is pretty obvious.
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Old 08-30-2007, 12:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

Mahan was signed to be the next STEELERS center...its not personnel w/ Okobi...I'm thinking the Ravens sign him
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Old 08-30-2007, 03:45 AM   #10
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Default Re: Okobi Will Be Mad If He's Not Next Steelers Center

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Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
From what I've seen, Minus blowing a snap in the shotgun during the Redskins game, Mahan has been the only center not getting overpowered. I felt he played particulary well during the Packers game. If I recall correctly, he blocked Hawk to spring Davenport for a five or eight yard gain. He handled the inside LB's just fine in that game (I believe Barnett in particular?) and played well in the run game and he wasn't beaten in pass protection. At the time, he was only going on two days of practice and really only two practice days in the Spring with the first team.

I'll take Mahan over Okobi at center.
I have to agree I like mahan over okobi I think he is handling the line alot better at this point.
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