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Old 07-30-2008, 08:14 AM   #1
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Default Center of attention

Center of attention
By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com

Latrobe, Pa. - Even before training camp started head coach Mike Tomlin said he was looking forward to a few of the battles that would take place on the fields at St. Vincent College. One of those battles is at the center spot.

“That will be a hotly contested battle and one that I am excited about watching unfold,” said Tomlin.

Sean Mahan, who took over the starting spot last year after Jeff Hartings retired, will battle Justin Hartwig, a veteran free agent signed in the offseason, for the job.

“We just know that there is gong to be a battle. That’s all I can say,” said Mahan.”It’s part of the game. It’s something you have to get used to. Justin and I are friends and it isn’t going to go anywhere past the field. But it’s a competitive business and that’s what makes everybody better.”

Having a full season of with the Steelers under his belt, Mahan definitely feels like there he does have somewhat of an advantage as the competition gets rolling.

“I have gotten to know the team better, have a year in the system, “said Mahan. “I feel comfortable this year. I feel good. I am excited to get the season rolling.”

Hartwig signed with the Steelers this offseason after spending the last two years with the Carolina Panthers, where he started 16 games at center. He played for Tennessee from 2003-05, starting 47 games for the Titans.

“I am excited about the opportunity to be out here playing football,” said Hartwig. “I am going to do my best and hopefully I am on the field. That will play out over the course of training camp.”

Like many positions Tomlin said that a starting job is far from decided and even if he does have someone written down, it is only in pencil.

“I was told I am going to get an opportunity here and that’s how I am looking at it,” said Hartwig. “I wasn’t made any promises. The Steelers organization was one I felt comfortable with. I liked what Coach Tomlin had to say. He said I had the opportunity to come in here and compete. That’s all I really needed.”

There is one guy, though, that is definitely out of the mix at center. Jeff Hartings was at camp this week, but only as a spectator, watching practice with his two young sons.

He was watching the offensive line, but wasn’t focusing in on the battle for the position he played just two years ago before his retirement. He just knew one thing - it wouldn’t be him out there playing this year.

“If I could I would still be playing,” said Hartings. “I couldn’t – they would both beat me out.”
http://news.steelers.com/article/92208/
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: Center of attention

Hartings, ever the diplomat.
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Center of attention

From what I have been reading [URL="http://www.theinsideronpittsburghsports.com"], it does not appear that Hartwig is getting a fair shot. I know it has only been two days, but I think we have all seen enough of Mahan to know what he is all about. Here are some excerpts from the site above:

It was status quo at center on Tuesday, with Sean Mahan taking the majority of the snaps at center with the first unit. Mahan was beaten badly by Chris Hoke today. First team O-Line in afternoon session: LT Smith, LG Essex, C Mahan, RG Simmons, RT Colon

and,

My source tells me the battle at center is looking decidedly in Sean Mahan's favor after the first day of practice. Mahan took the majority of snaps with the first team, while Justin Hartwig only working with the first team for about three snaps in each of the teams two sessions. This doesn't mean things won't change in the coming weeks but it appears the Steelers are giving Mahan every chance to retain his starting spot

I don't understand it. Why are you going to sign the guy during free agency, and tell him he is going to get a fair shot at the job, and then not even split up the reps in camp?
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:05 AM   #4
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his doesn't mean things won't change in the coming weeks but it appears the Steelers are giving Mahan every chance to retain his starting spot
well, he deseves a shot. he was a starter last season, you can't just give the job immediately to the new guy, even if mahan is still struggling, and there's also his contract, he has a contract of a starter so it's likely he's gonna get every opportunity to get his job.

I doubt that they give it to him if he continues to suck though, now that would be stupid. I expect to see hartwig with the first team sooner or later

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I don't understand it. Why are you going to sign the guy during free agency, and tell him he is going to get a fair shot at the job, and then not even split up the reps in camp?
like you said, it's just the second day. I do hope they decide soon thought let the o line gel during the preseason, instead of what happened last season
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:18 AM   #5
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Well, Chukii got the majority of snaps early last year in camp and it was pretty clear that Tomlin was going to go to Mahan regardless. I would surmise that Hartwig is penciled in at starter this season, but Tomlin is doing due diligence in giving Mahan a chance to prove himself. Afterall when you bring in a new player to take over a position it makes more sense to let the incumbent work to keep that job early in camp just in case the new guy falls flat on his face.
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:22 AM   #6
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Well, Chukii got the majority of snaps early last year in camp and it was pretty clear that Tomlin was going to go to Mahan regardless. I would surmise that Hartwig is penciled in at starter this season, but Tomlin is doing due diligence in giving Mahan a chance to prove himself. Afterall when you bring in a new player to take over a position it makes more sense to let the incumbent work to keep that job early in camp just in case the new guy falls flat on his face.
I sure hope so, because it appears clear that Sean Mahan is not a starting center in the National Football League.
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Old 07-30-2008, 12:21 PM   #7
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What should happen is that Hartwig gets the job by the 2nd week in camp.

What could also happen is he doesnt play well enough to supplant Mahan and it means the Steelers will NEED to make a big play for Alex Mack of Cal in the upcoming NFL draft.
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Old 07-30-2008, 12:32 PM   #8
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What should happen is that Hartwig gets the job by the 2nd week in camp.

What could also happen is he doesnt play well enough to supplant Mahan and it means the Steelers will NEED to make a big play for Alex Mack of Cal in the upcoming NFL draft.
Or LeCharles Bently this year - although unlikely because it would require them to cut either Hartwig or Mahan.
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Old 07-30-2008, 12:57 PM   #9
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I dont know a thing about Bentley and if he is really healthy.

I would rather have a brand new Mack truck than a broken down Bentley on my O line.
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Old 07-31-2008, 05:16 AM   #10
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I would rather have a brand new Mack truck than a broken down Bentley on my O line.
That is one of the best one liners I have read this year, and also so very true IMO.

However some writers look like they have pencilled Bentley in for the steelers already.

http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afcnorth/...edictions.html

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. Pittsburgh Steelers: LeCharles Bentley eventually will sign with Pittsburgh.

The Steelers and Bengals were two teams within the AFC North that showed preliminary interest in Bentley this summer. Bentley, if healthy, has a chance to make an impact at guard for Pittsburgh. He is a natural center but Justin Hartwig is expected to start there. Although Bentley is a Cleveland native, he was not a happy camper when he left the Browns because of the way his knee injury was handled. So what better way to get back at the Browns by playing for their biggest rival?
James Walker ESPN
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