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Old 10-11-2008, 12:09 PM   #1
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Default Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons
By John Grupp
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, October 10, 2008

By any standard, Steelers right guard Darnell Stapleton is undersized for an NFL offensive linemen.

Even coach Mike Tomlin called him "short" after his first pro start.

But the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Stapleton is tall enough to see where he stands.

"I'm not as heavy as most guards, and I may not be 6-6 or 6-5," Stapleton said, "but I think I'm smart enough to play the position, and I've got the will and the heart."

Stapleton, 23, has emerged from nominal obscurity as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers to become a starting right guard for the first-place Steelers.

"He's pretty athletic, and he's physical," starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu said. "He's a smart guy, and he stepped up and did a good job."

Stapleton, who made his first NFL start in the nationally televised, 26-21 victory last Sunday at Jacksonville, is expected to be in the lineup in place of injured Kendall Simmons when the Steelers travel to the Bengals on Oct. 19.

"This is no big surprise," said Steelers offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, who first spotted Stapleton on a video of the Texas Bowl college all-star game. "We have known this kid can play."

Said Tomlin: "Darnell is not small; he's short. He played with great leverage. He had an opportunity, and he delivered."

As for Stapleton's stature, he's smaller than most of the 64 first-string offensive guards in the league.

A handful of them are shorter than Stapleton, and a half-dozen or so don't weigh as much. But no starting guard in the NFL is shorter than Stapleton without pushing the scales to at least 305 pounds.

"I know a lot of people were worried about me starting last week," he said. "I really don't care what the outside world thinks. I'm just trying to do my job for my teammates. They are the people who are relying on me."

Stapleton, a Union, N.J., native, has overcome tough odds all his life:

• He made the Steelers' roster last year despite being sidelined for much of training camp due to knee surgery, while his former Rutgers teammate, 2007 fifth-rounder Cameron Stephenson, was cut.

• He made the team again this year despite not dressing for any regular-season games as a rookie.

• He moved up the depth chart this season, and when Simmons suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the second quarter against the Ravens in Week 4, Stapleton -- not fourth-year veteran Trai Essex -- was summoned.

Through it all, Stapleton never wavered against Jacksonville.

"I felt like if I let myself get wound up and nervous, I would have gone out there and (played poorly)," he said. "I felt like I had to go in there calm, cool and collected. I didn't want my teammates to have to worry, 'Is Darnell shaky? Is he nervous?' "

While it's not all Stapleton's doing, the Steelers line has played better since his arrival. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 15 times in 14 quarters to open the season but only three times in the past six quarters.

"Everybody said I did pretty good," Stapleton said. "But it's only one game, and we've got a long season ahead of us."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_592575.html
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Old 10-11-2008, 12:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

I thought Stapleton has done alright...I don't know if he is long time answer at RG.....Time will tell that....But I'm happy Simmons is gone....Nothing against Simmons I just think all his injuries and health issues have taken somewhat of a toll on him and he isn't the player he was when the Steelers drafted him in the first round of the 2002 draft.....
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Old 10-11-2008, 01:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

Hopefully he is strong, smart and athletic enough to be a solid performer despite being undersized....
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

was there really any doubt?
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Old 10-11-2008, 07:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

I'm not too concerned about his size. I mean, is being more than 300 pounds is all that necessary anyway? I mean, he could probably bulk up to 330 or 340 pounds if he really wanted to, but if that's not your normal playing weight, you'd think it would slow you down more than anything.

As for height, who even cares? You're trying to shove people around, not dunk a basketball.
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Old 10-11-2008, 07:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

If he can do the work, I don't care how big he is.

I actually wouldn't mind us trying to move simmons around a bit. He seems to have been playing pretty good lately.
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Old 10-11-2008, 11:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

personally i think that the problem came from the right side of the line most of the times.Im not a fan of Willie Colon,never been never will.

Id like to see Essex play RT if/when Smith comes back
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Old 10-12-2008, 12:24 AM   #8
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Default Re: Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

Quote:
Originally Posted by ricksteelers55 View Post
personally i think that the problem came from the right side of the line most of the times.Im not a fan of Willie Colon,never been never will.

Id like to see Essex play RT if/when Smith comes back
I really like Colon's style and ugliness on the field... how mean he is.

He just seems like a fish out of water. I don't know why the coaches aren't trying him in the guard spot... though at this point, it seems that the guard spot is now taken.

Did they ever work him at center?
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Old 10-12-2008, 12:34 AM   #9
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Default Re: Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

stapleton is playing good for us.. never know.. he could be the answer to rg
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Old 10-12-2008, 03:34 AM   #10
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Default Re: Stapleton steps in nicely for Simmons

My thinking is that the coaches see Stapleton as the center down the road.
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