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Old 08-25-2009, 03:56 AM   #1
Galax Steeler
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Default Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

It's not true the Steelers did not sign any veteran free agents this year. They did sign a couple, yet with so little fanfare they practically ushered them into their building through a side door.

Cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, a sixth-year pro, signed the day before the draft in April. Wide receiver Shaun McDonald, a seventh-year pro, signed the week after the draft. Add wide receiver Brandon Williams, a fourth-year pro signed in the middle of February to little notice, and there you have the Steelers' 2009 veteran free agent class.

All remain viable candidates to make the team. It's not easy to crack the roster of a Super Bowl championship team that returns all but two starters, yet all three are making good cases for themselves.

"It's tough because they have a lot of guys who have been here and won Super Bowl rings," McDonald said yesterday. "You have to go out there and prove yourself every day and that's what I'm trying to do so I can get me a spot."

McDonald has done everything they could have asked of him so far, in practices and in games. With four receiving spots nailed down, there is one roster position left at wide receiver, possibly two. McDonald's chief rival may be Williams, but he has been injured.

McDonald produced in St. Louis and Detroit, where he led the Lions in 2007 with 79 receptions and 943 yards. He also can return punts, averaging 9.5 yards for Detroit on 11 returns last season.

His nine receptions for 82 yards leads the Steelers through two preseason games, and he knows the next game, Saturday against Buffalo at Heinz Field, remains important to his roster fight.

It's something he has not experienced. When he became a free agent after his first four years with St. Louis, he signed as a coveted free agent in March with Detroit.

"I always knew my role going into camp and stuff like that," McDonald said. "This is a new situation. I'm glad I'm stepping up and, hopefully, I can keep this up and keep making plays."

Ratliff made his own play Saturday against the Washington Redskins, when he intercepted a Todd Collins pass late in the first half and gave Jeff Reed an opportunity to try a field goal that failed.

"Any time you can make plays ... that's always a bonus," Ratliff said.

He was a second-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004 and released by them early in the 2007 season, when he hooked on with the Colts and started four games last season.

The Steelers lost one cornerback when Bryant McFadden left as a free agent, and it looked to be a good place for Ratliff to sign. Two days later, the team drafted cornerbacks in the third and fifth rounds. He said that did not change his outlook.

"I've been in this league a long time and I was brought in to compete. Whether they brought in three corners in the first, second and third round or no corners at all, I'm coming here to compete and I can only be as good as I can be."

He has a chance. The Steelers would seem to be jammed up at corner with starters Ike Taylor and William Gay, veteran Deshea Townsend, special teams dynamo Anthony Madison and rookies Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett. But depth at safety might be a problem and Townsend has practiced there some. Ratliff also has returned punts and plays on special teams. He has played a lot of nickel back in his career and the Steelers have been sending him on the blitz.

"They were pretty much No. 1 in every category defense keeps track of," Ratliff said. "And to come in and be able to have a helping hand in that and be asked to go out and as one of those 11 is something that you couldn't wish for anything better."

It would surprise no one if Ratliff remains part of that defense, nor if McDonald joins the offense.

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Old 08-25-2009, 04:58 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

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Originally Posted by Galax Steeler View Post
It's not true the Steelers did not sign any veteran free agents this year. They did sign a couple, yet with so little fanfare they practically ushered them into their building through a side door.

Cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, a sixth-year pro, signed the day before the draft in April. Wide receiver Shaun McDonald, a seventh-year pro, signed the week after the draft. Add wide receiver Brandon Williams, a fourth-year pro signed in the middle of February to little notice, and there you have the Steelers' 2009 veteran free agent class.

All remain viable candidates to make the team. It's not easy to crack the roster of a Super Bowl championship team that returns all but two starters, yet all three are making good cases for themselves.

"It's tough because they have a lot of guys who have been here and won Super Bowl rings," McDonald said yesterday. "You have to go out there and prove yourself every day and that's what I'm trying to do so I can get me a spot."

McDonald has done everything they could have asked of him so far, in practices and in games. With four receiving spots nailed down, there is one roster position left at wide receiver, possibly two. McDonald's chief rival may be Williams, but he has been injured.

McDonald produced in St. Louis and Detroit, where he led the Lions in 2007 with 79 receptions and 943 yards. He also can return punts, averaging 9.5 yards for Detroit on 11 returns last season.

His nine receptions for 82 yards leads the Steelers through two preseason games, and he knows the next game, Saturday against Buffalo at Heinz Field, remains important to his roster fight.

It's something he has not experienced. When he became a free agent after his first four years with St. Louis, he signed as a coveted free agent in March with Detroit.

"I always knew my role going into camp and stuff like that," McDonald said. "This is a new situation. I'm glad I'm stepping up and, hopefully, I can keep this up and keep making plays."

Ratliff made his own play Saturday against the Washington Redskins, when he intercepted a Todd Collins pass late in the first half and gave Jeff Reed an opportunity to try a field goal that failed.

"Any time you can make plays ... that's always a bonus," Ratliff said.

He was a second-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004 and released by them early in the 2007 season, when he hooked on with the Colts and started four games last season.

The Steelers lost one cornerback when Bryant McFadden left as a free agent, and it looked to be a good place for Ratliff to sign. Two days later, the team drafted cornerbacks in the third and fifth rounds. He said that did not change his outlook.

"I've been in this league a long time and I was brought in to compete. Whether they brought in three corners in the first, second and third round or no corners at all, I'm coming here to compete and I can only be as good as I can be."

He has a chance. The Steelers would seem to be jammed up at corner with starters Ike Taylor and William Gay, veteran Deshea Townsend, special teams dynamo Anthony Madison and rookies Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett. But depth at safety might be a problem and Townsend has practiced there some. Ratliff also has returned punts and plays on special teams. He has played a lot of nickel back in his career and the Steelers have been sending him on the blitz.

"They were pretty much No. 1 in every category defense keeps track of," Ratliff said. "And to come in and be able to have a helping hand in that and be asked to go out and as one of those 11 is something that you couldn't wish for anything better."

It would surprise no one if Ratliff remains part of that defense, nor if McDonald joins the offense.

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Old 08-25-2009, 06:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

I hope these guys hang on cause they can contribute in some way immediately and they bring in some valuable depth in case of injury. I have been pleasently surprised by Ratliff and McDonald thus far in preseason and think that they can help us in the upcomming season.
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Old 08-25-2009, 06:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

I, too, have been impressed with both Ratliff and McDonald and feel they will both be on the roster and on the field on opening day. I've always been big on McDonald and really believe he can make a huge contribution to our WR corps.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

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I, too, have been impressed with both Ratliff and McDonald and feel they will both be on the roster and on the field on opening day. I've always been big on McDonald and really believe he can make a huge contribution to our WR corps.
It's sort of like when we signed that no name guy, Moore.
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:02 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

McDonald is one of the top slot WR in the league. He has experiance in that role with both St. Louis and Detroit. I havent seen Williams do anything game wise and that will hurt him.
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

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McDonald is one of the top slot WR in the league. He has experiance in that role with both St. Louis and Detroit. I havent seen Williams do anything game wise and that will hurt him.
now lets use him like we have been using him with dixon on the second team...

he needs to do the same thing with ben on the first team this week.

we need that short pass game to hold those LB's off a bit. save some OL face..
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:42 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

McCdonald seems like Hines...Just knows how to get open. Seems like a huge pickup.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

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McCdonald seems like Hines...Just knows how to get open. Seems like a huge pickup.
fans i know in detroit say they were going to miss him alot after we picked him up.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:54 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers: 2 veteran free agents make case to stay on

I think McDonald makes it as the #5 WR, but Ratliff either gets caught in a numbers game and gets cut, or he gets to stay and they use Townsend as a CB and backup FS.
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