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Old 04-11-2010, 10:13 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/footb...lers/notes.htm

Pittsburgh is in the market for another running back two years after the Steelers made Rashard Mendenhall their first running back drafted on the first round since 1989. But the only running back to visit them of the 25 college prospects who have done so through April 8 was Oregon's LeGarrette Blount.

The Steelers never did try to sign Willie Parker and he instead joined the Washington Redskins in a backfield that includes Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson.

Parker, the team's third-leading career rusher, felt bitter about how the Steelers did not use him last season after he recovered from turf toe. When word got out, his running backs coach called him and then Parker talked with coach Mike Tomlin about it.

"There's a business side; you can't let your pride get in the way," said Parker, 29. "That's a great organization with great people, great character. I can't be too bitter about what happened. I was a little salty; can't say I wasn't. But it's a business and the game I chose to play.

"If they can get rid of LaDainian Tomlinson like that in San Diego, a future Hall of Famer, they'll let anybody go. It's just the business we play in, it's a young man's game."

That is what the Steelers will be looking for now, a young man in the draft. They have only two backs with real experience, Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore. They also have Frank Summers, who was placed on injured reserve during his rookie season after back surgery, and two players who spent most of last season on their practice squad, Isaac Redman and Justin Vincent.

Blount would fill the bill as a complement to Mendenhall. He is 6-feet, 241 pounds and the kind of power rusher that Mendenhall is not. They need someone to spell their starter, especially since they also want to use Mendenhall on third downs, and of course take over if there is an injury.

The problem for them with Blount might be political, even if their concerns are eased that his postgame sucker-punch of an opponent and subsequent suspension is not an indication of anger-management issues. They have their own PR problems at the moment with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Santonio Holmes and drafting Blount might not go over well with their fan base.

NOTES, QUOTES

Police in Georgia have wrapped up their investigation into a sexual assault complaint by a 20-year-old woman against Ben Roethlisberger. They have turned over their findings to the district attorney and now all of Pittsburgh, including the front office of the Steelers, await what will happen next. The Steelers have only two other quarterbacks under contract, Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch, and the first of their OTAs are April 19-20. Of the 25 college prospects who have visited their training facility over the past two weeks, none was a quarterback.

DE Nick Eason signed a one-year contract with the Steelers. Eason, who turns 30 in May, started five games last season because of injuries and has served mostly as a little-used backup in his three seasons with the Steelers. Fellow backup Travis Kirschke is expected to retire. Eason was a UFA. The Steelers also have two rookie defensive ends from last season they drafted, first-rounder Ziggy Hood and Sunny Harris.

Despite James Farrior's age (35), coach Mike Tomlin feels good about his inside linebackers after signing Larry Foote. Farrior and Lawrence Timmons started last season and Keyaron Fox was their No. 1 backup.

"I think we discovered last year that Keyaron Fox is capable of playing winning, starter-caliber football," Tomlin said. "Same bodies but you probably feel even a little better about it this time around."

OG Kraig Urbik was the Steelers' second draft choice last year as their first of three third-round picks. He did not play a lick and was surpassed on the depth chart by free agent guard Ramon Foster. Director of football operations Kevin Colbert said the team is not disappointed in Urbik.

"Not at all. That's a bonus Ramon Foster did as good as he did. That's a pleasant dilemma to have. Hopefully Kraig Urbik will take that as a challenge. We'll see what happens in training camp. The good thing about it is it all plays out on the field. Players make decisions easy for us with their play."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's what I do, it's not who I am. I'm a husband, I'm a father, I'm a dad. It's a non-issue for me from that standpoint. I love it but it's not even in the same conversation as some of the other things." Mike Tomlin, on balancing his job with his family.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Twelve more draft prospects visited the Steelers over the past week. They include Idaho guard Mike Iupati, Florida center Maurkice Pouncey, defensive linemen Clifton Geathers of South Carolina and Linval Joseph of East Carolina, South Florida wide receiver Carlton Mitchell, Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski, Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount and linebackers Koa Misi of Utah and Adrian Tracy of William & Mary.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Cornerback: Even though the Steelers drafted corners in the third and fifth rounds last season, they got woeful play at the position and could lose starter and RFA William Gay and veteran UFA Deshea Townsend.

2. Defensive line: Although they re-signed NT Casey Hampton and drafted DE on first round last season, the Steelers three starters are all in their 30s and they need to groom someone to take over for Hampton and one DE over the next two years.

3. Linebacker: The Steelers added some depth with the signing of ILB Larry Foote but James Farrior will be 35 this season and James Harrison 32.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: PK Jeff Reed (tendered at $2.814M).

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

LB Rocky Boiman was a late edition to try to save their drowning special teams. He's not likely to return.

SS Tyrone Carter won't get a contract from the Steelers again unless he finds nothing from anywhere else.

WR Joey Galloway was a late signing after Limas Sweed was placed on injured reserve. He did not dress for either game and he is not likely to be invited back.

DE Travis Kirschke, although he turns 36 this year, has been dependable and could re-sign if he does not go elsewhere, especially if they get nothing at the position in the draft.

CB Deshea Townsend thinks he can still start in the league and the Steelers have no plans for him to do that. If he finds nothing of his liking in free agency, they will offer him a contract to return.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

RB Carey Davis (not tendered as RFA)..

OG Darnell Stapleton (not tendered as RFA) was their starting right guard until an injury put him on injured reserve.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)

*OT Willie Colon (tendered at $2.521M with first-round pick as compensation) entering third season as starter at right tackle.

CB William Gay (tendered at $1.101M with fifth-round pick as compensation) had a disappointing first season as a starter but not bad enough that they want to lose him.

P Daniel Sepulveda (tendered at $1.101M with fourth-round pick as compensation) was middle of the road and not likely to receive a high tender. He was drafted in the fourth round.

TE Matt Spaeth (tendered at $1.101M with fifth-round pick as compensation) is No. 2 behind Heath Miller. He plays a lot but rarely is used as a target and he's not a good blocker.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

LB Patrick Bailey: ERFA; terms unknown.

QB Charlie Batch: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

FS Ryan Clark: UFA; $14M/4 yrs, $3M SB.

DE Nick Eason: UFA; terms unknown.

NT Casey Hampton: Potential UFA; $21.3M/3 yrs, $11M guaranteed/$6.5M SB.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

S Will Allen: UFA Buccaneers; $4.4M/3 yrs, $950,000 SB.

WR Arnaz Battle: UFA 49ers; $3.975/3 yrs, $975,000 SB.

LB Derrick Doggett: CFL FA; terms unknown.

LB Larry Foote: UFA Lions; $9.3M/3 yrs, $1.8M SB.

WR Antwaan Randle El: FA Redskins; $7M/3 yrs, $900,000 SB.

OT Jonathan Scott: Not tendered as RFA by Bills; $545,000/1 yr.

PLAYERS LOST

RB Willie Parker: UFA Redskins; 1 yr, terms unknown.
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