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Old 04-17-2009, 09:15 PM   #1
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Default Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

Steelers Team Report

Yahoo! Sports Apr 17, 3:21 am EDT

Inside Slant

Pittsburgh has too long ignored a few positions in the draft and must make hay at those spots in this draft. It should be similar to the Steelers’ 2007 strategy. At that time, they needed to replenish their linebacker corps and they drafted two in the first two rounds, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley.

The Steelers have not drafted a defensive lineman in the first three rounds since nose tackle Casey Hampton was picked in the first round in 2001. It’s no wonder their three-man defensive line, while good, is getting old. Of their top six players, five are 30 or over, including all three starters.

If the Steelers do not pay attention soon, their line will have their retirement party together and the Steelers are left with nothing. Hampton will be 32 at the start of the 2009 season and will not last long because of his weight and the stress of that position. Defensive end Aaron Smith has been a rock for them for many years but he’s 33.

Drafting a defensive end is a priority. So too is a center, cornerback and wide receiver. Fortunately for the Steelers, those positions are deep in this year’s draft.

Pittsburgh has a long history of outstanding center play, and longevity as well. It began with Ray Mansfield in the 1960s, then Mike Webster and then Dermontti Dawson. Jeff Hartings made two Pro Bowls succeeding Dawson but after his retirement after the 2006 season, the position has not been a strong one. Sean Mahan was a one-year starter in 2007 and Justin Hartwig took over last year.

It’s evident the Steelers will draft someone they believe can take over their center position and turn it back into an asset. They’ve looked closely at a handful of centers, beginning with Alex Mack and continuing through Eric Wood, Max Unger and A.Q. Shipley.

Pittsburgh lost starting cornerback Bryant McFadden to Arizona in free agency. William Gay will step into the spot but they need depth because former starter Deshea Townsend, now No. 3, will be 34 when the season opens and there’s really no one behind him.

Someone like Ladarius Webb of Nicholls State would fit them because he can play safety or in the slot in the nickel and dime defenses. Depth at safety also is not strong.

Pittsburgh is counting on Limas Sweed, their second pick in 2008, to fill the void left by the departure of free agent Nate Washington. There is little after their top three receivers so they will draft one somewhere and try to get one that also can return kickoffs and/or punts.

And while they remain strong at linebacker with five good ones, the Steelers always look to fill that spot because it’s so important in a defense that starts four ‘backers.

TEAM NEEDS: Defensive line, offensive line, cornerback, wide receiver, linebacker.

DL—They’re good but getting old fast and the Steelers have not made this area a priority in the draft for years. It’s time they start. Casey Hampton might not have long left at nose tackle at 32 but the Steelers also need to find an end to spell, if not replace, Aaron Smith (33).

OL—The line already is considered a weakness, and the age factor applies here, too. The Steelers have concentrated on centers and tackles in the weeks leading up to the draft and it’d be a major upset if they don’t add multiple offensive linemen in this draft.

CB—There’s little depth and there’s not a Pro Bowl candidate in sight so this will be another position to watch. William Gay will start and he’s still an unknown, while 34-year-old Deshea Townsend is the only quality backup.

WR—As long as Limas Sweed cuts it, the Steelers should be OK. The problem is, the Steelers don’t know if he’s up to the task. There’s not a No. 4 on the horizon and they need to find one. The Steelers want a combination punt/kick returner at this position, too.

LB—Larry Foote enters his final season and James Farrior, productive as he’s been, could age quickly. NFL defensive player of the year James Harrison will be 31 after just two years as their Pro Bowl starter.

Notes, Quotes

• LB James Harrison became the Steelers’ highest-paid defensive player when he signed a six-year, $51.175 million contract. He had one year left on his old deal at $1.4 million.

“I don’t feel like I have totally peaked,” said Harrison, 31. “I feel like I can get better at some things that I have seen on tape that I did last year that I feel I can do better this year.”

• The Steelers were generally pleased with their 2009 schedule. They’ve often complained that their bye week comes too early and they’re sent to Florida in September when they play one of those teams. This year, they have a Nov. 1 bye, their latest since 1990, and they will play in Miami Jan. 3. Three of their four previous games in Miami came in September.

• QB Charlie Batch will become the backup to Ben Roethlisberger again this year—unless young Dennis Dixon moves up—after the Steelers failed to convince Byron Leftwich to return. Of course, Pittsburgh’s meager offer to Leftwich of two years at the minimum was less than convincing. Batch re-signed for one season at $745,000 plus a $50,000 signing bonus. The Pittsburgh native has been with the Steelers since 2002, when he signed as a free agent from Detroit.

• Former Steelers TE Jonathan Dekker was acquitted of an obstruction of justice charge in Virginia but it proved costly nonetheless. Dekker was arrested after an incident in Alexandria’s Old Town Jan. 24 and the Steelers told him he was not welcome at the Super Bowl. He was on IR at the time. They then released him after the season.

Quote To Note: “I will just be a little more reckless on the field because I don’t have to worry about too much anymore.”—James Harrison, NFL defensive player of the year, after signing $51 million contract.

Strategy And Personnel

Franchise Player: OT Max Starks: Tendered at $8.451M; signed tender Feb. 23.



• P Mitch Berger punted poorly and will not receive an offer because Daniel Sepulveda will return from injury.

• DE Orpheus Roye completed his 13th season by mainly being inactive on game day and he likely will not be re-signed.


• TE Jon Dekker (not tendered as ERFA) was on injured reserve.



• G Jeremy Parquet was a backup who played little.


• QB Charlie Batch: UFA; $895,000/1 yr, $50,000 SB.

• CB Fernando Bryant: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• OT Willie Colon: RFA; $2.198M/1 yr.

• FB Carey Davis: ERFA; terms unknown.

• OT Trai Essex: UFA; $1.94M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB.

• LB Keyaron Fox: UFA; $1.8M/2 yrs, $380,000 SB.

• LB Andre Frazier: UFA; $1.375M/2 yrs, $125,000 SB; 2009 cap: $687,500.

• LB Arnold Harrison: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• OG Chris Kemoeatu: UFA; $20M/5 yrs, $3.885M SB/$6M guaranteed.

• CB Anthony Madison: RFA; $1.01M/1 yr.

• TE/FB Sean McHugh; RFA; (tendered at $1.01M with seventh-round pick as compensation); $2.57M/3 yrs, $390,000 SB.

• OT Max Starks: FFA; $8.451M/1 yr.


• RB Stefan Logan: FA CFL; terms unknown.

• WR Brandon Williams: FA; terms unknown.


• LB Mike Humpal (released/failed physical).

• QB Byron Leftwich: UFA Buccaneers; $7.5M/2 yrs; $3.5M RB 2010.

• CB Bryant McFadden: UFA Cardinals; $10M/2 yrs, $1M RB/$5M guaranteed.

• RB Gary Russell (released(.

• OG Kendall Simmons (released/failed physical).

• S Anthony Smith: Not tendered as RFA/Packers; $1.485M/2 yrs, $100,000 RB.

• OT Marvel Smith: UFA 49ers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

• WR Nate Washington: UFA Titans; terms unknown.
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Old 04-18-2009, 07:55 PM   #2
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Default Re: Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

That's a pretty good analysis of our needs, even though I hate yahoo sports.
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:59 PM   #3
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Default Re: Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

I like Mack & hope he is available unless a steal at position of need like Vontae Davis falls to the Steelers' laps
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

1 more week...

it's going to be fun

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Old 04-18-2009, 09:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

Mack in 1, Maola in 2. I can't wait.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

Drafting a defensive end is a priority. So too is a center, cornerback and wide receiver
since when is a WR a priority in this draft?
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Old 04-19-2009, 06:24 AM   #7

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Default Re: Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

Originally Posted by Steeldude View Post
since when is a WR a priority in this draft?
Because we have two Super Bowl MVP starters, a third who will be pretty good at worst, and no one at the 4th. Because there are so many teams with 4 great or even good wide receivers, right?

Hate that the closer you get to draft, the more the word "need" changes from "major roster concern" to "would be nice to have more competition for the guys who barely will see the field the next season"

All in all a pretty good analysis, but nothing majorly insightful.
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

I would love for the steelers to land Wood or Mack in the first. and then work on a corner or defensive lineman.
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Old 04-19-2009, 12:51 PM   #9
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Default Re: Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

Why do people like Vontae Davis so much? I'd hope he's the last person the Steelers draft.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: Yahoo sports - Steelers Team Report

There isn't a corner under 4.58 in this draft. Its a weak draft altogether and a poor one for CBs.

That said, I'd like either Mack or Sean Smith (either for corner or FS) in the 1st. Then a DE, OT, DT, OG, and whatever falls. CBs will be there late.

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