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Old 12-10-2009, 07:48 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' future watch

Steelers' future watch
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Thursday December 10, 2009 12:01 AM

Coach Mike Tomlin during the first half of the Steelers' pre-season game against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field on Thursday, August 13, 2009.

CLEVELAND -- Tonight, the Steelers will get a sneak peak into their future.

If coach Mike Tomlin stays true to his word, youth will be served at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

After Sunday’s stunning defeat to the Oakland Raiders, Tomlin vowed to make some personnel changes. He’s going to give his “Kiddie Corps” a chance to make plays that many of his veterans are failing to make.

“We’re 6-6, so he has to do something,” said 34-year-old inside linebacker James Farrior. “I mean, you just can’t let the same thing happen over and over again. I’m not blaming one person and he’s not blaming only one person.

“But even if you’re a guy who’s getting called out, it may not all be your fault, it may be a group effort, but changes have to made be made and (Tomlin) has to do what he has to do.”

The most obvious change could come at cornerback where William Gay has struggled mightily and is coming off a concussion. There is a good chance that rookie Joe Burnett will replace Gay in the starting lineup.

It’s hard to imagine Tomlin benching Ike Taylor, the other corner, even though Taylor did not play well against the Raiders. But Tomlin did say that rookie cornerback Keenan Lewis still get some reps.

Lewis and Burnett, drafted in the third and fifth rounds of this year’s draft, could be the starting corners in the not-too-distant future.

“That’s why we’re here,” Lewis said. “We’re here to make plays.”

Burnett had a chance to make a play that would have given the Steelers a win Sunday. He didn’t. Late in the fourth quarter, Burnett dropped a pass that was right in his hands. Had he made the pick, Burnett would have been the first Steelers cornerback to intercept a pass this season.

“Hopefully, I’ll still be our first corner to get a pick,” Burnett said. “Maybe I’ll get one in Cleveland. I’m beating myself over that one I dropped the other day. I could have been the star of the game. But as a corner, you have to have a short memory. You have to move on to the next play.”
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On the offensive side of the ball, there’s a chance another rookie might start. Due to a hamstring pull, Hines Ward is questionable. If the venerable wide receiver doesn’t play, Mike Wallace, another third-round pick, will start.

That would also mean that seldom-used Limas Sweed, a second-round pick last year, will be the No. 3 wide receiver.

“I am ready to step in and play,” said Sweed, whose brief career has been plagued by crucial drops that have kept him from earning more playing time.

“I’ve been sitting back patiently, waiting for the opportunity however it might come. It looks like the opportunity has come and the door is open a little bit.”

“I’m confident in the younger guys,” Ward said. “I’ve always told the younger guys we have a bunch of young guys capable of being a starter. ‘You’re just one (injury) away from becoming a starter, so be ready.’”

With 30 catches for 519 yards and three touchdowns this season, Wallace has proven he’s ready. Sweed may get another chance to prove himself tonight. Burnett and Lewis may get their first extended playing time.

Maybe even rookie defensive end Ziggy Hood, last year’s first-round pick, will see his playing time increase.

As Farrior said, something has to be done to end this four-game losing streak.

“I’m ready,” Lewis said. “The coaches told me and (Burnett) that we may be in there. They told to us to play fast and at a high level. When our number is called, we have to be ready to go.”

That goes for all the young Steelers.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' future watch

If tomlin does start the young guys I hope they perform at a very high level, I would hate to give one up to the Browns!!!!!
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:17 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' future watch

Time to see what Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett can add to this defense. I am very excited to see both of them play tonight. It will be interesting to see how well Mike Wallace can do in the starter role. Hopefully the youth can help turn things around and get the Steelers back to winning again.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:27 PM   #4
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Maybe we will see the younger guys in the secondary perform well and at least not give up the big plays in the 4th that has plagued us over the past few weeks.
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Old 12-10-2009, 03:15 PM   #5
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Maybe somebody can tackle Cribbs before he runs one back or breaks one out of the backfield.
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Old 12-10-2009, 03:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' future watch

The way I look at it, if Burnett makes the same play he did on Sunday multiple times (almost intercepting a ball but instead letting it fall to the ground), I'll take that over Gay and Taylor letting the receiver grab it and run it into the end zone.
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