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Old 09-14-2008, 04:12 AM   #1
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Default Who Could the Steelers Most Ill-Afford To Lose

Big Ben and who could the Steelers most ill-afford to lose a la Tom Brady?
Sunday, September 14, 2008
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Last week, Tom Brady.

This week, Ben Roethlisberger, perhaps?

Heaven forbid.

It's beyond argument that Roethlisberger is the one player the Steelers can't afford to lose. A serious injury to him would do to them what Brady's injury did to the New England Patriots and Shawne Merriman's did to the San Diego Chargers. Big Ben is the best quarterback in the NFL now that Brady is out. The Rooneys aren't paying him $102 million because they're generous.

But that doesn't mean Roethlisberger is the only valuable player.

An injury -- and they seem to be going around these days -- to the wrong guy could sabotage the Steelers' promising start to the new season, which continues tonight in Cleveland.

There's plenty of room for debate when it comes to ranking the other players in terms of indispensability. Do you put Troy Polamalu No. 2 behind Roethlisberger? Or Willie Parker? Do you rate James Harrison or James Farrior higher? How about Marvel Smith or Heath Miller?

If you ask 50 people, you'll get 50 different lists.

You didn't ask for mine, but you're going to get it anyway.

No. 2 Aaron Smith ...

Everybody learned the hard way last season how much he means to the Steelers. The team finished 1-3 when he was out with a torn right biceps. The defense was impotent. Asking Travis Kirschke or Nick Eason to fill Smith's enormous shoes is unfair because they just can't do it.

"Aaron is my idol," fellow defensive end Brett Keisel said last week. "Ever since I've been here, I've had my eyes glued on No. 91, so I can learn as much as I can from him. If I end up being half the player he is, I'll be happy."

No. 3 Polamalu ...

When the Steelers' defense is at its best, it is unpredictable. Polamalu's versatility is off the charts. Is he going to line up here or over there? Is he going to blitz or drop back into coverage? The man drives quarterbacks crazy. There's a big fall off to backup Tyrone Carter.

No. 4 Parker ...

Despite having Roethlisberger, the Steelers remain a power, run-oriented team. Parker ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns in the 38-17 win against the Houston Texans last Sunday. You'd hate to ask rookie Rashard Mendenhall to carry that kind of load. For now, it's enough to ask him to carry the football without fumbling it.

No. 5 Justin Hartwig ...

He's not the Steelers' best offensive lineman. That would be tackle Marvel Smith, but the team has $7 million man Max Starks as his backup. Hartwig might not be as good as guards Chris Kemoeatu and Kendall Simmons, but their backup, Trai Essex, has NFL starting experience. Next in line behind Hartwig at center is second-year man Darnell Stapleton. Do you really want to put Roethlisberger's and Parker's future in Stapleton's hands at this point?

No. 6 Harrison ...

It was tough to put Harrison -- the team MVP last season -- so high because second-year linebacker Lawrence Timmons looks ready for a bigger role. But, after further review, the man is just too hard to block. His three sacks against the Texans are only the beginning of a monster year. Note to Browns fans: Don't run on the field tonight if Harrison is in the vicinity.

No. 7 Hines Ward ...

I thought about putting Santonio Holmes here because he's a better deep threat, but, really, how often do the Steelers throw the long ball? There are a lot more third-and-7 plays. There's no one you'd rather go to in those situations than Ward, who's still going strong at 32.

No. 8 Miller ...

Well, maybe you'd rather go to this guy on third-and-7. There might not be a better player on the Steelers. He can block. He can catch. He's hard to bring down. He can do it all. Don't be surprised if he has a big game tonight for two reasons. One, he torched the Browns for nine catches and two touchdowns last season. And two, the Browns couldn't handle Dallas tight end Jason Witten (six catches for 96 yards) in a 28-10 loss last Sunday.

No. 9 Farrior ...

How much do his teammates respect the man? They voted him captain for the fifth consecutive season. He's the on-the-field brains behind the defense.

No. 10 Ryan Clark ...

Clark's value also wasn't truly known until he was lost last season with a spleen injury. Remember how Carter struggled at free safety against Jacksonville in the playoff loss? If Clark goes down again, cornerback Deshea Townsend might have to move to free safety with Bryant McFadden taking over at corner.

OK, that's my Top 10.

Holmes wasn't the only other player strongly considered. It was hard leaving off LaMarr Woodley, who has the look of a great pass rusher. But, again, there's Timmons for depth. It was even harder excluding Casey Hampton, who, though, he's fat, still has great strength and push at the line of scrimmage. Did you see him send Texans center Chris Myers flying backward into running back Steve Slaton? But Big Snack only plays two downs and also has a capable backup in Chris Hoke.

One other name was worth serious consideration: Jeff Reed.

I tend to agree with those who say kickers aren't football players. But ask yourself two questions:

Who is more dependable on the Steelers?

Who in the NFL would you rather have lining up tonight for a 48-yarder in the final seconds with the Steelers down by two points?

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08258/912064-66.stm
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Old 09-14-2008, 06:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: Who Could the Steelers Most Ill-Afford To Lose

I would have to agree with polamalu we seen what that did for us last year it was just a big hole in our deffense hopefully we will keep a healthy polamalu this year.
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Old 09-14-2008, 07:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: Who Could the Steelers Most Ill-Afford To Lose

I don't even want to think about the subject.

(stillers inserting head back into the sand)
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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 09-14-2008, 08:33 AM   #4
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Default Re: Who Could the Steelers Most Ill-Afford To Lose

And to think we barely lost to Jacksonville without #'s 2, 3 , 4, and 10.
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Who Could the Steelers Most Ill-Afford To Lose

I'd swap Polamalu and Parker, maybe even move Polamalu down another. I love him, but I think we can scrape by without him.
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: Who Could the Steelers Most Ill-Afford To Lose

Quote:
Big Ben is the best quarterback in the NFL now that Brady is out. The Rooneys aren't paying him $102 million because they're generous.
Nope, according to you, they're paying him $102 mil because he's greedy.

Quote:
From this angle, it looks as if Roethlisberger did the money grab.
Cook's a jackass.
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Old 09-14-2008, 03:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: Who Could the Steelers Most Ill-Afford To Lose

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelersinCA View Post
I'd swap Polamalu and Parker, maybe even move Polamalu down another. I love him, but I think we can scrape by without him.
I agree...(don't bash me here but I think Ryan Clark is servicable as a back-up) honestly all injuries and losing key players is costly, but 1 thing I believe this team and franchise does better then anybody else in the NFL is fill those positions when an injury occurs with another able body.....

all that being said, I'd still say Big Ben would be costly to lose, if Batch were back there I'd probably not say that, but Leftwich concerns me a bit.....just from his past in the league I'm not to keen on him......
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Old 09-14-2008, 04:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: Who Could the Steelers Most Ill-Afford To Lose

I still say Big Ben. For the other players we have someone who could we rely on to at least be decent.

Behind Ben we have Leftwich and there is no way we're a playoff team with him back there.
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Old 09-14-2008, 04:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: Who Could the Steelers Most Ill-Afford To Lose

Hines Ward. He's not flashy, he's not eccentric - he's one hard-hittin, playmakin' mofo and is one of the hearts and souls of this team.

Ben is the undisputed leader of the O and we wouldn't be the same without him, but I firmly believe Lefty could come in and run the O satisfactorily until his return.
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