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Old 06-09-2008, 03:49 AM   #1
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Default Starks hopes to make big impact

Starks hopes to make big impact
Monday, June 09, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After signing record contract, tackle must fight for starting spot in lineup

Normally when a team bestows the kind of money the Steelers did on Max Starks, it comes with much fanfare, usually a news conference.

The Steelers made Starks their second-highest paid player without even a photo op, then told him to go win a job.

Starks has been doing that all spring, trying to win back his old job of starting right tackle. He lost it to Willie Colon last summer, which set off an unusual set of circumstances that culminated when Starks signed a one-year contract for nearly $7 million in April.

Six weeks later, he's taking snaps at right and left tackle but remains the No. 3 tackle on the team behind starters Colon and Marvel Smith. The real competition, if there is one, will occur in training camp at Saint Vincent College.

"He's establishing his role," coach Mike Tomlin said. "It's the same thing I've said, and I mean what I say -- he's a starter-capable offensive lineman. We're able to keep him in the fold. He's working like others are working and they'll establish their roles in Latrobe."

It's normally not difficult to determine who the favored players are in competitions -- look at their contracts. The Steelers did not give Sean Mahan a $4 million signing bonus as part of his five-year, $17 million contract last season to back up Chukky Okobi at center.

Starks' case is different. It would come as little surprise, even to him, if he filled the same role he did last season, when he earned $1.85 million on a one-year contract.

"It doesn't surprise me," Starks said. "It's not like, 'OK, we give you this money, guess what? We're giving you a golden ticket to Willie Wonka's factory, you know, a starting job.' It's going to be something that has to be earned."

Starks earned the job for two seasons -- one of them ending with a Super Bowl victory -- before a new coaching staff removed him in favor of Colon last season. Yet now he will make more than any offensive lineman, second on the team only to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and the coaches' opinions have not seemed to change on Colon being their right tackle.

Yet, Steelers management, knowing it would lose Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, did not want to let Starks walk away as an unrestricted free agent this year, especially after he showed late last season that he could capably fill in at left tackle. There were only two ways to keep him in Pittsburgh: sign him to a long-term deal or make him a transition player.

They did the latter, which required them to pay him precisely $6.89 million, the amount stipulated for an offensive tackle designated a transition player. It's the average of the 10 highest-paid tackles in the NFL.

Had another team signed him, the Steelers could have matched, but he received no offers. They have said they'd like to sign him to a long-term deal but there have been no discussions. It will be difficult to do that anyway because he's guaranteed $7 million over one season and can become a free agent again next year.

So, the player with the biggest one-year contract in the Steelers' history may not even start. He reports to work every day, just as he did a year ago for what were then his new bosses.

"That's all I can do," Starks said. "Every day, you're one snap away from being a starter, that's what you learn in the NFL. It could be like last year; I didn't start the whole season and ended up starting four games at left tackle. You never know what twists fate has for you. I just stay optimistic and wait for whatever opportunities are presented."

Starks played left tackle the previous two weeks in practice as Smith missed time to be with his wife while she gave birth. But he knows if he's going to start it would have to come at right tackle, barring injuries.

"We're not having a real opportunity to see where I fit in because we've had guys missing," Starks said. "Marvel was gone for two weeks. The time we could have started to see where I fit in has been delayed."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08161/888463-66.stm
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Old 06-09-2008, 04:30 AM   #2
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Default Re: Starks hopes to make big impact

IMO Starks is a natural LT. Marvels career could be extended IMO by moving to RT and thus giving Hills time to develop.

But in reality I can see Max riding the pine at seasons start with Marvel at left and Colon at right.

That only leads me to believe that our O line is still going through a transition period where all Grimms boys will be slowly phased out with new lineman that suit the current O line coaching philosophy. The emphasis I think is on the slowly.
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Old 06-09-2008, 06:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Starks hopes to make big impact

With the kind of money they give him he needs to be a starter and not sit on the bench.
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Starks hopes to make big impact

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie_steeler View Post
IMO Starks is a natural LT. Marvels career could be extended IMO by moving to RT and thus giving Hills time to develop.

But in reality I can see Max riding the pine at seasons start with Marvel at left and Colon at right.

.
I agree that Starks is a natural LT, as that is where he played before coming to the NFL, but so did Smith. The problem is that Starks is not a better LT now than a healthy Marvel Smith....so really Starks is a 3rd round talent that hasnt developed into a starter.

Also, I dont understand the logic that moving Smith to RT will somehow extend his career....can you please explain??? I've never seen old guys like Wayne Gandy, Tarik Glenn, Jon Ogden, Jakie Slater moved over to RT later in their careers to somehow save a couple years....its still a collision position.

I too can see Max riding the pine and would rather have seen him allowed to go in FA so we could spend that $6.89mil on signing a 3-4DE instead of Bobby Boucher.
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Old 06-10-2008, 04:12 AM   #5
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Default Re: Starks hopes to make big impact

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Originally Posted by El-Gonzo Jackson View Post
Also, I dont understand the logic that moving Smith to RT will somehow extend his career....can you please explain??? I've never seen old guys like Wayne Gandy, Tarik Glenn, Jon Ogden, Jakie Slater moved over to RT later in their careers to somehow save a couple years....its still a collision position.
Let me try to explain my logic (even if it seems flawed)

1. Right handed, right side dominant individuals naturally work better to their right hand side as opposed to their left. as you get older you reactions slow. Therefore you can buy a little (a fraction) time by sticking to your preferred side. eg. reacting and stepping to the outside to push the opponent away from the quarterback. I thought Marvel was a RT coming out of college? Max is a natural left handed individual.

2. Opposing sides try to concentrate on a QB's blindside so that the QB has less chance of escaping. So you want a LT with agility of the feet, hands and mind.

3. OK I am only crapping on and you have caught me out. my flawed logic doesnt even stand up to my own analysis.


Seriously, I think the team is weak at both LT and RT and Marvel might lengthen his career with the steelers by moving to the right because of the level of competition at that spot.( I am taking a gamble in that Hills is viewed as a possible LT candidate as is Max Starks. The existing competition at right is non existent meaning he could make it his position for as long as he wants.)

Thats the best defence I can mount El-gonzo.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: Starks hopes to make big impact

I dont know what to think of him and his contract, i think he would be a better guard with his power and his massive frame. I guess we will see what his future position will be with us this season.
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: Starks hopes to make big impact

Starks really surprised me last year, he played well at LT. I think Smith should be moved to the right side and Max made the starting LT. I don't understand why they are keeping Colon at RT, his pass protection is some of the worst I've ever seen. He's built to play inside, not outside. I think they'll realize that once he's allowed 10 sacks halfway through the season.

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Old 06-10-2008, 07:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: Starks hopes to make big impact

i have a question.

how is starks a better LT than RT?

i think he was one of those cases where the size was perfect for a LT but the athletic ability was just not there...

he may have played LT when he came out but the talent level in the NFL is very different from college (even if he did play in the SEC) many players have switched from LT to RT jordan gross is one who just got franchised by the panthers... levi brown of the cards and jamal brown an all-pro for the saints..
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Old 06-10-2008, 07:39 PM   #9
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Default Re: Starks hopes to make big impact

All I know is that he better win a starting position at LT or RT for what he's gonna be paid this year.
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Old 06-11-2008, 12:18 AM   #10
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Default Re: Starks hopes to make big impact

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie_steeler View Post
Let me try to explain my logic (even if it seems flawed)

1. Right handed, right side dominant individuals naturally work better to their right hand side as opposed to their left. as you get older you reactions slow. Therefore you can buy a little (a fraction) time by sticking to your preferred side. eg. reacting and stepping to the outside to push the opponent away from the quarterback. I thought Marvel was a RT coming out of college? Max is a natural left handed individual.

2. Opposing sides try to concentrate on a QB's blindside so that the QB has less chance of escaping. So you want a LT with agility of the feet, hands and mind.

3. OK I am only crapping on and you have caught me out. my flawed logic doesnt even stand up to my own analysis.


Seriously, I think the team is weak at both LT and RT and Marvel might lengthen his career with the steelers by moving to the right because of the level of competition at that spot.( I am taking a gamble in that Hills is viewed as a possible LT candidate as is Max Starks. The existing competition at right is non existent meaning he could make it his position for as long as he wants.)

Thats the best defence I can mount El-gonzo.
Nice post Aussie!! I thought the Fosters was impairing your judgement a bit.

I'm just a doubter that sees Starks as being a bit heavy footed with not great hand placement....that is why he played RT, but you expect a guy to progress from RT to LT,......not lose his job to a 2nd year guy from Hofstra with short arms (Colon).

Smith is a technician, a veteran LT and a pro bowler for 1 season at LT. Starks is just a big guy that moves well for his size and played decently in 3 games at LT last season....but Trai Essex actually played well in relief of him for a game too.

Max Starks will not play LT in this league with much success. Thats my projection.

Hills does project as a LT and is a better athlete than Starks. I say the best plan will be to extend Smith for 4 years, expect Hills to compete at RT next season and maybe play there for 2 years then move over to LT. Smith is then released and a new RT is groomed....kind of like Smith was.
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