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Old 04-05-2008, 07:44 AM   #1
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Default Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

Steelers starters take notice of McFarland
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, April 5, 2008

Free-agent defensive lineman Anthony "Booger" McFarland has won more Super Bowls than Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel, who comprise the Steelers' starting defensive line.
Torn patella tendon or not, the Steelers recent flirtation with McFarland and his two Super Bowl rings should get the attention of those starters.

McFarland didn't leave Pittsburgh with a desired contract last week, but coach Mike Tomlin still managed to get his point across to his players.

Since the end of last season, Tomlin has repeated that the Steelers need to become quicker and younger on the offensive and defensive lines. At 30, McFarland is no longer a kid, but he can still be a disruptive, pass-rushing force when healthy.

Make that a motivating force, as well.
The mention of McFarland possibly joining the Steelers should light a fire under Hampton, Keisel and Smith.

Since the Steelers aren't changing to a 4-3 anytime soon, the 3-4 remains their defense of choice. That would mean fewer snaps for the starters if McFarland, who can play tackle and end, joined the team, and Tomlin put him in the rotation.

"He's a veteran football player that's a good football player. He's won world championships in two different cities," Tomlin said of McFarland this week during the owners meetings in Florida. "We felt it was worthy of our time to spend a day with him, We'll see where that goes. Absolutely."

Unless Tomlin is playing mind games, his words indicate there could be a roster spot for McFarland if he makes a full recovery from the knee injury he suffered last August.

"Anthony had an extremely positive visit with the Steelers, and I think it was mutual," said agent Karl Bernard, who stressed that no negotiations took place between his client and the Steelers. "There was no urgency from the Steelers to sign him right now. Based on the conversations I've had, it's definitely a possibility that he could be in a Steelers' uniform."

The Steelers defensive front struggled to generate a consistent pass rush late in the season. Not only is McFarland a noted pass rusher, he's one that Tomlin is familiar with. Tomlin was Tampa Bay's secondary coach from 2001-2005 when McFarland was there.

Like it or not, Tomlin needs more of his "guys" on the Steelers -- players that he selected personally and feels comfortable with. And if it happens to be a player with whom Tomlin had a previous working relationship, that's even better.

In McFarland's case, it's unlikely that Tomlin would have checked out another player recovering from major knee surgery unless he knew that player personally.

According to Bernard, McFarland's knee is at about 70 percent. McFarland still has a ways to go before he can realistically return to action.

"There hasn't been a problem with his knee," Bernard said. "He's ahead of schedule."

If the 2008 season were to start today, McFarland wouldn't be able to take the field. Still, the Steelers met with McFarland at this stage of his rehabilitation because Tomlin knows McFarland and trusts him.

Tomlin knows McFarland, the way he knows current center Sean Mahan, whom the Steelers signed to a free-agent contract a year ago. Mahan also played with Tomlin in Tampa Bay.

Mahan was the first of Tomlin's "guys" to join him on the Steelers. Don't be surprised if Tomlin gives McFarland a second look.
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_560744.html
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Old 04-05-2008, 08:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

The way it is sounding they may be bringing him back in for some depth when he gets healed up.
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Old 04-05-2008, 08:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

I like Booger alot, I know hes hurt at the moment but I dont really think he got the credit he deserved for stabilizing the Colts D and helping them finally stop the run in 2006. Everyone fell in love with Bob Sanders that year and I think Booger made much more of a contribution than he got credit for.
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Old 04-05-2008, 12:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

Very interesting. If signed, he brings experience, and is proven. Someone like that does not come in to be a backup which means a starting job could be on the line. Which would lead to competition for playing time. Competition could bring out the best in everyone as they try to maintain their role as a starter or battle for more PT if not a starter. This will be very interesting to see how this plays out.
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Old 04-05-2008, 12:30 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

too bad we already dont have a pass rushing DT that is a solid player on the team....Chris Hoke anybody?
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

I will welcome Mc if we end up signing him. He would solidify our d-line depth.
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Old 04-05-2008, 02:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kindjunior View Post
I like Booger alot, I know hes hurt at the moment but I dont really think he got the credit he deserved for stabilizing the Colts D and helping them finally stop the run in 2006. Everyone fell in love with Bob Sanders that year and I think Booger made much more of a contribution than he got credit for.
good post.. i didnt remember that but yeah i could agree...
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

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Originally Posted by slashsteel View Post
I will welcome Mc if we end up signing him. He would solidify our d-line depth.
Agreed - I have to admit I was a little disappointed when the deal fell through.
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

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Originally Posted by fansince'76 View Post
Agreed - I have to admit I was a little disappointed when the deal fell through.
Sure sounds like he's on speed dial. I was a little surprised we didn't sign him as well. He could have started the year out on PUP or IR and come in the seventh week.
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Old 04-05-2008, 04:02 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers starters take notice of McFarland

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Originally Posted by 19ward86 View Post
too bad we already dont have a pass rushing DT that is a solid player on the team....Chris Hoke anybody?
the drop off from Hampton to Hoke is not NEARLY as bad as the drop off from Kiesel to Eason or A. Smith to kirske ... I think booger would be a great breather for kiesel, and move him back to a more pass-rushing suited role.
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