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Old 08-27-2009, 09:56 PM   #1
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Default Steelers' first-rounders step up each year

Steelers' first-rounders step up each year
By Nate Davis, USA TODAY
What's new with the Pittsburgh Steelers? Well …

They wrapped up their 43rd consecutive training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., last week.

They are entering the season as the defending Super Bowl champions for the sixth time, an NFL record.

Barring injuries, they should have at least 19 of 22 starters from last season on the field for the Sept. 10 opener against the Tennessee Titans.

In short, the more things change in the transitory NFL, the more they stay the same in the Steel City.

Yet part of the Steelers' winning formula is reliance on their first-round picks and the expectation that fresh faces will step forward when called.

Every player Pittsburgh has taken in Round 1 of the draft since 2003 remains on the roster. Many of them — quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, receiver Santonio Holmes and safety Troy Polamalu— are keystone performers in the Keystone State.

Now some of the more recent first-rounders are ready to assume more prominent roles, which is all part of the master plan.

"(We're) molding the young guys," says veteran wideout Hines Ward. "That's always been the case."

One of those young guys is sophomore tailback Rashard Mendenhall. He lasted four games and rushed for 58 yards as a rookie before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury Sept. 29. But the Steelers think the 225-pounder will make a much bigger impact this season.

Running backs coach Kirby Wilson says Mendenhall has shown good burst, especially between the tackles, and soft hands, both attributes that make him a perfect complement to starter Willie Parker.

"Rashard is working really hard. He's picked up the offense now, and he's starting to develop his own style and identity as a runner in this league," says Wilson, who "absolutely" envisions Mendenhall taking over as the third-down back. "I'm pleased with his progress."

So is Mendenhall.

"It's a lot easier, a lot more comfortable," he says of the fast-paced NFL game, which is now slowing down for him. "You can react with the football instead of thinking about a whole bunch of things."

He could eventually replace Parker, who's in the final year of his contract.

Lawrence Timmons, the team's top pick in 2007, has already taken over at linebacker for departed Larry Foote.

A part-timer in 2008, Timmons still recorded 65 tackles and five sacks. Fellow linebacker LaMarr Woodley predicts the freakishly athletic Timmons will explode as a starter. "Good pass rusher; great dropping into coverage; he can run sideline to sideline," Woodley says of Timmons' talents. "Pretty much he does everything that you like to see in a linebacker."

Even the newest first-rounder, defensive end Ziggy Hood, looks promising after getting two sacks Saturday against the Washington Redskins.

Coach Mike Tomlin expects the youngsters to fulfill their potential as their predecessors did. "Those guys understand the standard and what we need from them," he says.



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Old 08-28-2009, 09:40 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' first-rounders step up each year

Now, if I were to listen to people on this BOARD, I'd have to say:

A) Who cares about first rounders since 2003...we still suck at the draft because we don't find late round talent.
B) Kirby Wilson is smoking crack...doesn't he know Mendenhall lacks:
Lateral explosion
Suddenness
A wide base at impact
Glide
C) Timmons is either a bust or is so good we need to dump him before he wants a big contract
Vision
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' first-rounders step up each year

Well, suddenness and glide are pretty important. Now, if I only knew what that actually meant...
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:40 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' first-rounders step up each year

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelMember View Post
Well, suddenness and glide are pretty important. Now, if I only knew what that actually meant...
You managed to "glide" into this thread with "suddenness" quite well.
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:49 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' first-rounders step up each year



Sarcasm Alert!

If this has anything to do with the "fast twitch" muscle conversation...I'm outa here.
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' first-rounders step up each year

Yeah baby. Steelers dont rebuild, Steelers RELOAD.
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Old 08-28-2009, 12:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' first-rounders step up each year

Quote:
Originally Posted by revefsreleets View Post
Now, if I were to listen to people on this BOARD, I'd have to say:

A) Who cares about first rounders since 2003...we still suck at the draft because we don't find late round talent.
B) Kirby Wilson is smoking crack...doesn't he know Mendenhall lacks:
Lateral explosion
Suddenness
A wide base at impact
Glide
C) Timmons is either a bust or is so good we need to dump him before he wants a big contract
Vision
bahaha
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Old 08-28-2009, 01:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' first-rounders step up each year

True, we've had very few first-round busts for a long time. And to make it even better, we've been getting them with mid- to low-range picks, not diva picks.

Heh .. this made me look up our first-round draft history list too. Man, did we screw up in the '90s. Otherwise, we could've had like 14 Super Bowls by now.
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Old 08-28-2009, 01:17 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' first-rounders step up each year

The last round 1 bust would have to have been Jamain Stephens almost forgot Troy Edwards
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Old 08-28-2009, 02:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' first-rounders step up each year

We've had some tremendous late round picks as well (sarcasm off): William Gay (5th), Ike Taylor (4th), Aaron Smith (4th), Deshea Townsend (4th), Chris Kemoeatu (6th), Brett Keisel (7th), and of course there are the undrafted FA's too...
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