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Old 07-16-2009, 07:57 PM   #1
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Default Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits

Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits
July 8, 2009 by Andy Benoit

Quick-hitting one-liner analysis on every significant Steeler player and offseason move.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Predicted: 1st

2008: 12-4 (Super Bowl Champs)

Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (3rd year)

Roster Quick View (*new veteran, **rookie)

Offense: (Coordinator: Bruce Arians)

QB: Ben Roethlisberger One of those rare quarterbacks who is better than his statistics. With two Super Bowls in his first five seasons, we have to view him as one of the All-Time Greats.

RB: Willie Parker An upper-tier tailback when fresh. Is 28, but minimal playing time in his early 20s affords him several more good years.

RB: Rashard Mendenhall Back from a broken shoulder. Steelers would love to see the ’08 first-rounder earn a fifty-fifty split on carries with Parker.

FB: Carey Davis Not a bad lead-blocker, though if he can’t handle the ball, he probably won’t make the final roster. H-back Sean McHugh might steal some of his snaps.

WR: Santonio Holmes Has progressed in each of his first three seasons. His best trait is near-perfect footwork that enhances his already-superb quickness.

WR: Hines Ward At 33, signed a five-year contract that will make him a Steeler for life. Remains a consummate possession receiver.

WR: Limas Sweed Has shown an embarrassing lack of mental toughness at times. Still, there’s too much talent bottled up in his 6’4” frame to ignore.

TE: Heath Miller Hands couldn’t be softer if they were made by Charmin. Is also a fantastic blocker, thanks to fine-tuned technique.

TE: Matt Spaeth The 6’7”, 270-pounder has just 22 receptions in his first two seasons. But Steeler coaches don’t seem displeased with him as the No. 2.

LT: Max Starks Big lumbering RT type who somehow manages to survive at LT. Steelers just signed him to a four-year, $26.3 million deal.

LG: Chris Kemoeatu Gradually improved during his first season and can now be considered an acceptable starter. At his best as a run-blocker on the move.

C: Justin Hartwig Classic example of a guy who survives more than thrives. In his case, that’s just fine.

RG: Darnell Stapleton Probably hasn’t gotten enough credit for being an undrafted youngster who helped solidify a Super Bowl-winning line. That said, if consistency doesn’t improve, he could get demoted.

RT: Willie Colon Has settled down and learned to read blitzes better. Short arms cap his potential, but he still has enough raw talent to develop into a Top 10 RT someday.

6 OL: Trai Essex Valuable swing tackle who should hold off versatile third-round rookie Kraig Urbik for the top job off the bench.

Defense (Coordinator: Dick LeBeau)

LDE: Aaron Smith The unsung hero of the Steeler defense.

NT: Casey Hampton Everything you could ever want in a NT. Fires off the ball, plays with great leverage and absolutely owns the A gaps. (P.S. If you ever need to boost your self esteem, watch him run in the open field.)

RDE: Brett Keisel Still hard to tell the difference between him and Travis Kirschke. Doesn’t matter, both guys are brilliant at anchoring the run defense through crafty gyration.

2 DT: Chris Hoke Is at least 20 pounds lighter than Hampton, but Steelers still excel when he’s on the field. Has the rare ability to clog running lanes without getting tied up.

3 DE: Ziggy Hood** First-round rookie will see sparse playing time behind Travis Kirschke in ’09, though he’s the future of this front line.

LOLB: LaMarr Woodley Posted 11.5 sacks as a first-time starter and had six more in the playoffs. Astounding thickness and long arms amplify his rare athleticism.

LILB: James Farrior Is able to play downhill in this scheme. At 34, still has fine quickness and almost never loses the battle at the point of attack.

RILB: Lawrence Timmons First-rounder in ’07 is just now cracking the starting lineup. Pay close attention––fierce pop and fluid agility could make him a superstar.

ROLB: James Harrison Coming off one of the greatest individual defensive seasons in NFL history. Simply put, there’s nothing he doesn’t do well.

CB: Ike Taylor It’s hard to find truly supple corners with this much size. If he could ever hold onto interceptions, he’d be a perennial Pro Bowler.

CB: William Gay Doesn’t jump out on film,, which tells you he’s a good fit in this scheme.

NB: Deshea Townsend Pure cover technique has always been his strength. But at 34 (on September 8), his skills will only continue to wane. Third-round rookie Keenan Lewis might step in.

SS: Troy Polamalu Given Pittsburgh’s two Super Bowls in four years, you could make a legitimate argument that he’s the most valuable player in all of football.

FS: Ryan Clark Reliable tackler who also surrenders nothing deep.

6 DB: Tyrone Carter Brings some added nastiness off the bench. Can hold down the fort as a starter, if need be.

Special Teams

K: Jeff Reed Powerful leg and immune to pressure. Now, go Google his name and check out the shirtless party photos.

P: Daniel Sepulveda Fourth-round pick in ’08 missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL.

RS: Joe Burnett** Cornerback who was drafted in the fifth-round primarily for his playmaking prowess in the return game.

Offseason Quick Glance



1 32 (32) Evander Hood DT Missouri

3 15 (79) Kraig Urbik OG Wisconsin

3 20 (84) Mike Wallace WR Ole Miss

3 32 (96) Keenan Lewis CB Oregon St

5 32 (168) Joe Burnett CB C Florida

5 33 (169) Frank Summers RB UNLV

6 32 (205) Ra’Shon Harris DT Oregon

7 17 (226) A.Q. Shipley C Penn State

7 32 (241) David Johnson TE Arkansas St


WR Shaun McDonald: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.

CB Keiwan Ratliff: UFA Colts; terms unknown.


LB Larry Foote (released).

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.


Pittsburgh came away fairly unscathed by free agency, which is unusual for a defending World Champion. They’ll miss downfield receiving threat Nate Washington, but Limas Sweed was selected in the second round last season specifically for this moment. They granted veteran run-stopping ILB Larry Foote his release after it became clear that ’07 first-rounder Lawrence Timmons was ready to take over. Longtime LT Marvel Smith was allowed to take his injury problems elsewhere; his replacement, Max Starks, signed a four-year contract in June. Veteran right guard Kendall Simmons was also dismissed (injuries played a part).

But again, a replacement was already secured in Darnell Stapleton. And if Stapleton doesn’t work out, third-round rookie Kraig Urbik will get a shot. (And at the other guard spot, Chris Kemoeatu was re-signed.)

The Steelers eschewed the free agent market once again because they already filled every hole from within. And they’re primed to continue this pattern in the coming years. Looking at this draft class, Pittsburgh is grooming players to fill holes that will come about in 2010, 2011 or 2012. First-round pick Ziggy Hood was a good find at No. 32. All three of the Steelers’ contributing DE’s––Brett Keisel, Aaron Smith, Travis Kirschke––are in their 30s. Hood has a chance to evolve out of a reserve role for a year or two.

Willie Gay replaces departed CB Bryant McFadden, plus Pittsburgh signed Keiwan Ratliff for depth. They also drafted Keenan Lewis in the third round and Joe Burnett in the fifth.

Third-rounder Mike Wallace can play receiver, though the Steelers coveted him for his kick return abilities.
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits

Nice read thanks Mesa.
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits

Originally Posted by steeltreal View Post
I remember watching Hood play for Mizz last year on my weekend Reno trips. Their O scored so often that defense was on the field a lot but he made a lot of big plays on 3rd down when it mattered most. Reminds me of a Dwight Freeny type, I don't think he can start this year in Dicks Def scheme even if someone got hurt but I like the pick. Defensive line was the only option
I agree with you I remember after the senior bowl and combine thinking this guy would make a good D-linemen for us.
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits

They are a little overly kind to the OL, but that's okay.
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits

Originally Posted by mesaSteeler View Post
FB: Carey Davis Not a bad lead-blocker

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Old 07-17-2009, 01:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits

Originally Posted by Steel Head View Post

that area of the write up was a bit of a stretch....

Summers will be there, davis will be released... McHugh is multi function he should stay...
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits

ROLB: James Harrison Coming off one of the greatest individual defensive seasons in NFL history. Simply put, there’s nothing he doesn’t do well.
Well, he could use a little work on his longsnapping skills.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits

Good article, but didn't Sepulvida miss his second year?
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Quick Hits

Originally Posted by Steelman16 View Post
Well, he could use a little work on his longsnapping skills.

Poor guy.....NFL DPOY and he'll neve live that one snap down.
"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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