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Old 01-14-2009, 05:50 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'
By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY

PITTSBURGH — There was the night Willie Colon sat alone in a bar on the South Side, unwinding after work and minding his own business when a stranger approached.

"You a Steeler?" Colon remembers the man asking.

Good guess. Colon is a thick 6-3, 315, and has started every game at right tackle the past two years for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With that much established, the stranger — whom Colon says wore a raggedy jacket to match disheveled hair — got a bit personal.

"You've got to understand," Colon recalls the man telling him, "I've lost 40% of my portfolio. I put 10 Gs down in Vegas. If you guys win the Super Bowl, I get $200,000. If you can help me out …"

Exhale, Roger Goodell.

Colon says he did exactly what might be advised at the league's annual rookie symposium, when it comes to handling such sticky situations.

"I paid my tab and got the hell out of there," Colon said. "But that kind of shows you how people put it all on us. That's the pressure that makes our job unique."

Sometimes, it feels like the Steelers' offensive line is carrying the weight of the world. When Colon went to Wal-Mart earlier this season, he says he got a mouthful from a heckler who was upset by spotty protection for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and limited holes for running back Willie Parker— a theme that has been an undercurrent in the Steelers' season as the unit tries to come together through various forms of upheaval.

No wonder left tackle Max Starks suggests calling the line, "The Garbage Men."

"Everybody has looked at us as the weak link," Starks said Tuesday, as the Steelers prepare for Sunday's AFC title game against the Baltimore Ravens. "But we just take all the crap, shovel it, and throw it out."

Like Colon, Starks has drawn unflattering attention in public. He says he's constantly amazed that passionate fans will cite details such as false-start penalties.

"You figure players at the marquee positions will get noticed," Starks says. "But here, people will make comments about you and your performance, no matter what. And it can come from little kids or little-old ladies alike. Everyone in Pittsburgh is tuned in."

Unlike offensive lines for recent championship teams that developed over at least a couple of seasons, the Steelers' unit has had to mesh quickly. Only Colon returns to his position from last year. Chris Kemoeatu is the new left guard, stepping in after perennial all-pro left guard Alan Faneca left as a free agent. Center Justin Hartwig came during the offseason as a free-agent signee. Right guard Darnell Stapleton has been in the spot for 13 games, after Kendall Simmons tore an Achilles tendon. Starks has started 12 games, after Marvel Smith went down with a back injury.

The shuffling undoubtedly contributed to the 46 sacks Roethlisberger took during the regular season that were second-most in the league, and a 3.7-yard average rushing gain for the team that was fourth-lowest in the league.

"People don't understand that the continuity comes by playing together," Colon said.

Added Starks, "We'll take that burden. That's the job of the offensive line."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin suggests the line has been an easy target when the offense sputters. Parker's injuries have factored into the inconsistency of a 23rd-ranked rushing game, and Roethlisberger's tendency to hold onto the football (often while seeking big plays downfield) have always spiked his sack totals.

Still, when Tomlin listed priorities for the playoff opener he emphasized the play of the big men on the offensive and defensive lines, Starks said, as the No. 1 key to victory.

Done. Roethlisberger was sacked just once in Sunday's AFC divisional playoff win against San Diego. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called smash-mouth runs on the first three plays, gaining 22 yards, and setting a tone that resulted in 146 rushing yards from Parker, most by a Steelers back in a playoff game in 33 years. An avalanche of praise followed.

"It's a group of guys that battled all year," said tight end Heath Miller. "They took some knocks from people outside our locker room, but they just keep on the grind. They're playing as good as they've played all year."

Adversity has helped the unit become closer, using criticism as fuel.

"It's kind of one of those things where you want to play hard for your brother," says Starks. "We're definitely like brothers. We fight, we play around. But we know when it's time to get the work done, the accountability is between us."

And their endearing public.


Find this article at:
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/footb...e_N.htm?csp=34
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Old 01-14-2009, 08:47 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

I hope they continue to gel and take some Ratbird trash out come Sunday night.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

I could not imagine talking trash to these guys.
The few games I have attended ( Three Rivers Stadium) where the players would come out of the locker room, I did not even want to ask them for an autograph.

I did however get some great pics. I remember Dwight Stone just sitting on the hood of his car and signing autographs.

There was like no security around, We were standing right next to Cowher's black bmw.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

when complaining about the o-line this year, I never realized or thought about just how much turnover there's been.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

Quote:
Sometimes, it feels like the Steelers' offensive line is carrying the weight of the world. When Colon went to Wal-Mart earlier this season.....
willie got a false start penalty from the door greeter....
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

They need to play well for the next 2 games.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

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Originally Posted by chenzzo View Post
when complaining about the o-line this year, I never realized or thought about just how much turnover there's been.
considering they've went from not very good, to flat out suck over the last 3 years....
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

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Originally Posted by MasterOfPuppets View Post
willie got a false start penalty from the door greeter....
It would have been better if he gave Willie a "slap n' swim" move. right out of an NFL commercial.

Honestly, the line hasnt been as bad as everybody says. Sacks are a deceptive statistic and even if they had the same line as 06 with 3 pro bowlers on it, they would give up a lot of sacks because of the offensive scheme and the QB.

If the gameplan for most of the season was like the last 2 games....line up and run at the defense, then mix in some passes. There would be less pass attempts, more running yards, more worn out defensive lines and more traditional Steeler football. These guys are better run blockers than pass protectors, but our coaching staff played to the coaches strengths, not the players strengths.
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:09 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

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Originally Posted by chenzzo View Post
when complaining about the o-line this year, I never realized or thought about just how much turnover there's been.
Yeah. Like, pretty much EVERYONE.
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' 'Garbage men' prove they're no longer a 'weak link'

we need to replace the entire line with these-



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