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Old 01-03-2009, 10:08 AM   #1
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Default Starks contrast

Bires: Starks contrast
http://www.timesonline.com/articles/...c557389747.txt
By Mike Bires
Times Sports Staff

Published: Saturday, January 3, 2009 12:10 AM EST

PITTSBURGH --- As it turns out, it’s Max Starks who’s getting the last laugh.

No longer is he the butt of jokes. No longer is being called the $7 million back-up. No longer is he getting criticized for losing his starting job to a product of NCAA Division 1-AA football.

“Isn’t it funny how people have quit talking about all that?” Starks said.

Now that Starks is a significant contributor to the Steelers’ Super Bowl hopes, his not-so-distant past seems like ancient history.

He’s the big, bad Florida Gator who earned the starting job at right tackle in 2005 only to lose it last year to Willie Colon, who played college football at Hofstra.

He’s the guy who the Steelers curiously tagged as a “transition” player during the off-season, and thus is earning a base salary of $6.895 million (that’s the average salary of the 10 highest-paid linemen in 2006).

In terms of base salary, Starks is the highest-paid Steeler this year.

Starks’ salary is roughly $6.450 million more than Colon is making this year, and Colon is the man who beat Starks out in training camp the past two years.

But because of Marvel Smith’s chronically sore back, Starks has resurrected his career. He’s started the last 11 games at left tackle on a 12-4 team that’s earned the AFC’s No. 2 seed.

“Max has done a solid job,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “You know what goes with playing left tackle in this league. The challenges are many week in and week out. He stood up well for us and gave us the kind of production that we need to win games.”

It’s not that Starks, a 6-foot-8, 345-pound behemoth, is playing all-star caliber football. But like Tomlin suggested, he’s holding his own. None of the Steelers’ other four starters on the offensive line are premier players.

At times this season, center Justin Hartwig, left guard Chris Kemoeatu, right guard Darnell Stapleton, Colon and Starks have played well. But all five starters have been inconsistent at times, too.

When you look at the Steelers’ struggles as the NFL’s 22nd-rated offense, it all starts up front.

But on the bright side, the O-line at least seems to be getting better, even if the progress is minimal.

“We’re so much better as an offensive line now,” Starks said. “Now we’re playing with so much more confidence. It’s chemistry. We’ve had 11 games together now, and we’re developing the chemistry all good offensive lines need. We’re peaking at the right time.”

The Steelers can only hope that their O-line is peaking. Next week, they resume their chase for the Super Bowl. Even though the Steelers boast the NFL’s top-ranked defense, they’ll need the offense to hold up its end of the bargain.

That means the offensive line must open holes for Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore, and protect banged-up quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

As a left tackle who typically faces an opponent’s best pass rusher, Starks knows that he’s under the most pressure.

And if Starks fares well in the postseason, he could land a lucrative, multi-year contract in March. Like Smith and Kemoeatu, Starks is an unrestricted free agent. He wants to stay in Pittsburgh, but he may command the kind of money the Steelers are unwilling to pay.

So despite the uncertainty he faced when this season began, Starks can be one of the biggest winners if the Steelers go deep into the playoffs.
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:54 AM   #2
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Default Re: Starks contrast

thats a good post....

and him wanting to stay in pittsburgh.. thats nice.. but he'll be asking for some cash this off-season
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: Starks contrast

me thinks they're riding just a little too high on that browns game..... sorry, but one game against a crappy team hardly shows improvement......i refuse to even sip the koolaid.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:21 AM   #4
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Default Re: Starks contrast

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Originally Posted by MasterOfPuppets View Post
me thinks they're riding just a little too high on that browns game..... sorry, but one game against a crappy team hardly shows improvement......i refuse to even sip the koolaid.
I too am reluctant to sip the koolaid, but am at least holding a cup of it. I have been critical of what I see technically wrong with Starks and believe that a 5year pro should have corrected those flaws......but he hasnt.

Starks has played well, but only well enough to rate him as an average lineman. Its what I expect our LT to be doing, but with some lapses. If somebody wants to pay him too much to play LT in the league, I say we let him walk. I have a bad feeling that we will see the Steelers pay him and once he gets some security in a contract he will get lazy and his play slip.......much like Kendall Simmons did.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Starks contrast

i garuntee that the steelers draft a LT with the first pick. hopefully they trade marvel smith to get some extra picks. he is too injury prone to give him 4 or 5 mil a yr.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:34 AM   #6
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Default Re: Starks contrast

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i garuntee that the steelers draft a LT with the first pick. hopefully they trade marvel smith to get some extra picks. he is too injury prone to give him 4 or 5 mil a yr.
you can't trade a free agent.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:39 AM   #7
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Default Re: Starks contrast

4 mil for a healthy smith is dirt cheap. i just want some consistancy on the line.

starks- 1st year lt for steelers
kemoeatu- 1st year starting guard for steelers
hartwig- 1st year with steelers
stapelton- 1st year starting guard
colon- 2nd year starter.

i hold on to hope that the line can continue the jelling process into the playoffs, even though its so late in "the game".
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: Starks contrast

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Originally Posted by smokin3000gt View Post
c'mon... not even a lil koolaid?
nope...but i suggest the author of the article drink a nice cup of stfu...... it bothers me that these guys act like we don't know what were seeing when watching games.
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Old 01-03-2009, 12:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: Starks contrast

I suspect the decision to resign him will be his value vs what we can repalce him with . We will not have a high draft pick unless we trade up. All the first round worthy lineman picks may be gone by the time we draft as they were last year. If we can't replace him with something better we may have to resign him. Left Tackles do no grow on trees and finding a good free agent one will be difficult and expensive.
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Old 01-03-2009, 12:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: Starks contrast

Its foolish to even consider making an offer for Smith this offseason. Didn't he have surgery last off season that was supposed to cure his back woes? I liked the guy when he's healthy, but if we pay him even a mil, its most likely going to be a mil sitting on the sideline and taking up a roster spot until he goes on the IR. He was good, but his body just can't take football anymore, we need to find his permanent replacement...is it Starks? Maybe, but I just can't see the reason to give money to someone who can't stay healthy.
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