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Old 11-04-2007, 07:34 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' rookie class producing

Steelers' rookie class producing
By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, November 4, 2007


So far, so deep.
Early returns indicate this Steelers draft class could be as well-stocked as any since director of football operations Kevin Colbert arrived in 2000.

There's no telling whether it will produce as many starters (five) or contributors (seven) as the Class of '02, but five players have made significant contributions to the team's 5-2 start.

The five:

• First-round pick Lawrence Timmons leads the club in solo special teams tackles (six), though he hasn't yet made an impact at linebacker.
• Second-round pick LaMarr Woodley has flashed star potential as a pass rusher, with three sacks and a forced fumble in limited playing time.

• Third-round pick Matt Spaeth has been a regular in the team's two- and three-tight-end formations and has three touchdown catches.

• Fourth-round pick Daniel Sepulveda is averaging 44.1 yards per punt and is tied for fourth in the NFL with 13 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

• Fifth-round pick William Gay has filled in ably for injured cornerback Bryant McFadden in the Steelers' pass-defense packages and has five special teams tackles. His performance allowed the team to feel comfortable cutting former second-round pick Ricardo Colclough this week.

Last season, only two rookies - wide receiver Santonio Holmes and safety Anthony Smith - were significant contributors, though offensive tackle Willie Colon has emerged as a starter this season.

An interesting twist on this year's class is that the top two picks - Timmons and Woodley - haven't seen many snaps. That is because the Steelers' veteran linebackers are playing well.

"It's still a long season," Woodley said. "Every day we're learning the defense a little better so we can get out there more."


Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu remembers how he felt halfway through his quiet rookie year of 2003.
"Oh man, I wanted to go home," Polamalu said. "It's definitely a tough adjustment, but it's different for different people."

Timmons and Woodley bonded in training camp, when they were roommates in Latrobe.

"We helped one another out," Woodley said. "We both came in hurt during mini camp, so that's when we really became buddy-buddy."

The toughest part of the adjustment to professional football, many rookies say, is the length of the season.

"I feel like it's getting long," said Woodley, who starred at Michigan. "Usually in the Big Ten, you're done by the middle of November. Here, you look at the schedule, and it'll be the middle of December."

Spaeth agreed.

"Right away, the speed of the game was the biggest adjustment," Spaeth said. "But that fades rather quickly, because you adjust to it. I think it's going to be the length of the season, but at this point, it hasn't really hit yet, I don't think. Hopefully, it won't."

If Spaeth continues his early production, he'll make a name for himself - and it won't be "Tim." NBC announcers Al Michaels and John Madden mistakenly referred to Matt as "Tim" after Spaeth caught a touchdown pass against the Denver Broncos.

Michaels apologized on the air and said he and Madden would have to treat Spaeth to a dinner.

"I got about 45 text messages from people telling me what happened," Spaeth said. "(The announcers) said they were going to buy me dinner, so I'm going to have to take them up on that."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rookie report
Five rookies have contributed to the Steelers' 5-2 start. A look at the team's draft class:

Lawrence Timmons, LB
Round: 1 (15)
Comment: Leads team in solo special teams tackles (six)

LaMarr Woodley, LB
Round: 2 (46)
Comment: Tied for third on team in sacks (three)

Matt Spaeth, TE
Round: 3 (77)
Comment: Tied for third on team in TD catches (three)

Daniel Sepulveda, P
Round: 4 (112)
Comment: Tied for fourth in NFL with 13 punts inside 20

Ryan McBean, DE
Round: 4 (132)
Comment: Practice squad

Cam Stephenson, G
Round: 5 (156)
Comment: Cut

William Gay, CB
Round: 5 (170)
Comment: Reserve in sub-packages, five special teams tackles

Dallas Baker, WR
Round: 7 (227)
Comment: Practice squad

**Gary Russell, RB, and Darnell Stapleton, G, made the team as rookie free agents but have yet to dress for a game.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_536146.html
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 11-04-2007, 10:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie class producing

Sep # 4 in punts inside the 20, not bad. I don't think I've seen much of his punts being touchbacks, good for him
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Old 11-04-2007, 10:49 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie class producing

Yeh.. I am very happy with our draft this past april as well. The selection of Spaeth really mistified me when the pick was handed up and announced. And then through the preseason, you never heard anything good about him and I am really worried about that 3rd rounder. And now he is making big plays when asked to and must be blocking well or he wouldnt be in there so much. The new punter of ours.... well.... I loved the pick from the very beginning and he is paying off.
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie class producing

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Yeh.. I am very happy with our draft this past april as well. The selection of Spaeth really mistified me when the pick was handed up and announced. And then through the preseason, you never heard anything good about him and I am really worried about that 3rd rounder. And now he is making big plays when asked to and must be blocking well or he wouldnt be in there so much. The new punter of ours.... well.... I loved the pick from the very beginning and he is paying off.
Agreed. I was uncomfortable with the Spaeth pick in the third round but he has really stepped up and contributed this season.
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie class producing

Ask me again in 2010.
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie class producing

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Originally Posted by fansince'76 View Post
Ask me again in 2010.
Agreed - it is not as if the LBs are playing so exceptionally well that Woodley cannot get more PT.

As for Timmons, IMO the plan presumably was for him to be doing more than being the ST leader in tackles by the mid-point of the season.
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie class producing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elvis View Post
Yeh.. I am very happy with our draft this past april as well. The selection of [B]Spaeth really mistified me when the pick was handed up and announced. And then through the preseason, you never heard anything good about him and I am really worried about that 3rd rounder. And now he [B]is making big plays when asked to [/B]and must be blocking well or he wouldnt be in there so much. The new punter of ours.... well.... I loved the pick from the very beginning and he is paying off.[/B]
Spaeth has been especially valuable with Tuman ailing for a good part of this season.

Woodley needs to get more time on obvious pass situations. He has proven himself to be a playmaker with the limited playing time he has had.

Gay looks to be a playmaker as well. What strikes me most about Gay and Woodley is thier work ethic and knowledge of the game. These two seem to be catching on very quickly.

Timmons is doing what is asked of him and doing it well, even if it is just special teams at this point. I hope he is working hard with Woodley on the mental aspect of this defense.

We needed a punter and it seems we have a good one in Sep.

I myself have been waiting to see Russell dress. I thought he should have for the Denver game but we all know we did'nt end up needing him for that one.

I am very happy with the draft class, but in retrospect did anyone know Ugoh (LT INDY) would have been this acomplished this early? Timmons may turn out to be very special but again in retrospect trading down for Beason (OLB), getting Ugoh, and then Woodley would have been great. Ahh, hindsight is always 20/20!!
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Old 11-04-2007, 04:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie class producing

Agree DACEB

With enough hindsight everyone on this forum could draft 3-4 future HOFers. I think this crop has the makings to be solid contributors/ starters for several years. We are still far from figuring out if Timmons, Woodley and Gay will be the core of the future defense, only time will tell.

The best thing about this class is that we do not have to spend future picks because these guys are busts.
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Old 11-05-2007, 04:17 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie class producing

I would like to see alot more of timmons and see what he can do as for woodley that man is going to be a beast.
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Old 11-05-2007, 09:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' rookie class producing

Woodley will be an All Pro for Pittsburgh. Write that down.
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