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Old 05-04-2010, 08:22 PM   #1
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Default Return of the Steel Curtain?

http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/pos...-steel-curtain

Return of the Steel Curtain?
May, 4, 2010 May 42:30PM ETEmail Print Share By James Walker


PITTSBURGH -- A look around the Steelers' locker room during their veteran minicamp last weekend brought back a nostalgic feel.

Dynamic safety Troy Polamalu, who was sidelined for 11 games in 2009, was in one corner after returning to practice.

Not too far from Polamalu was cornerback Bryant McFadden, who was laughing and catching up with teammates after spending a year with the Arizona Cardinals.

Defensive end Aaron Smith -- showing no ill effects from a season-ending shoulder injury -- was at the opposite end of the locker room tutoring second-year player Ziggy Hood. And veteran linebacker Larry Foote gave interviews at his locker saying how happy he was to return to Pittsburgh after spending last season with the Detroit Lions.

These were all welcome sights for the Steelers' defense that you didn't see last season.

Injuries, defections and blown fourth-quarter leads took the shine off Pittsburgh's proud and talented unit in 2009. Despite a No. 5 overall ranking, the Steelers' defense just didn't look the same last year as Pittsburgh missed the playoffs for the first time in coach Mike Tomlin's tenure.

And with franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger serving a conditional six-game suspension this season, the latest version of the "Steel Curtain" will need to be super again.

Before dropping several notches last year, Pittsburgh's defense led the NFL in total yards and points allowed in 2008 on its way to the team's sixth Super Bowl title.

"There's no question that we have the ingredients and the talent to do that," Polamalu said of Pittsburgh's defense getting back on top. "It is whether or not we can maintain the focus that can last throughout the year and stay healthy."

Health hit Pittsburgh's defense in key areas last season.

Polamalu suffered a left-knee injury in the opening game against the Tennessee Titans and never quite recovered. He played in four more games but re-injured the knee. The Steelers' defense missed the big-play element that Polamalu brings, particularly in the fourth quarter to close out games.

Smith, who has been Pittsburgh's most consistent defensive end for the past decade, missed 11 games after shoulder surgery. Defensive starters Lawrence Timmons (ankle) and Brett Keisel (neck stinger) also missed three combined games for the Steelers.

Because Polamalu is the team's best defender, his injury is most often cited as the reason for Pittsburgh's struggles. But players believe it was a collection of occurrences.

"We just had a lot of injuries," Pro Bowl linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "With everyone on the field, everybody is part of the defense. So we can't just look at [Polamalu] and say without one man out there our defense breaks down."

Everyone in Pittsburgh is healthy again and hoping for better luck in that department.

In addition to getting healthy, the Steelers added depth by bringing back veterans McFadden and Foote. Both were starters for the Steelers during their last title run two years ago.

"It's the same old Dick LeBeau defense, and I feel comfortable," Foote said. "It's like I never left."

While Foote's role is a work in progress, it appears McFadden has the inside track to start at cornerback opposite Ike Taylor. McFadden practiced with the first-team defense during veteran minicamp.

The Steelers believed William Gay was ready to step up last year as the starting cornerback, so the team let McFadden go and he got a more lucrative offer from Arizona. After Gay struggled for one season, the Steelers reacquired McFadden in a draft-day trade and gave him a contract extension that runs through 2012.

"Things worked out that I got an opportunity to come back here," said a happy McFadden. "It's good knowing that you have the opportunity to be in a successful defense and making plays. It feels very good to be a part of that and also to have the surrounding guys here."

Can The Defense Carry The Steelers?
Here is a look at Pittsburgh's opponents during QB Ben Roethlisberger's six-game suspension:

Week Opponent '09 Off. Rank
1 Atlanta No. 16
2 Tennessee No. 12
3 Tampa Bay No. 28
4 Baltimore No. 13
5 BYE N/A
*6 Cleveland No. 32
*7 Miami No. 17
* Roethlisberger's suspension could be reduced to four games.
Even before Roethlisberger's suspension, the team wanted to get back to the dominant, smashmouth style that made the Steelers successful. So expect a lot of running and trying to win with field position early in the season.

Luckily for the Steelers, they won't face any opponents during Roethlisberger's suspension that were ranked in the top 10 offensively last year. The Titans, who will meet Pittsburgh in Week 2, had the highest-rated offense of the first six opponents at No. 12.

Pittsburgh's quarterback situation remains undecided. Byron Leftwich received the first-team reps with the Steelers in minicamp. But Tomlin said earlier this week that backups Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch also will get opportunities to show what they can do this offseason.

Regardless, none of those quarterbacks is capable of throwing for 350 yards every week. So if the Steelers are going to stay afloat and win games early, it will be because their defense rounded back into championship form.

"Being a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense, you always feel accountable to be successful week in and week out," McFadden said. "We know we’re going to be called upon to play good football like we’re accustomed to doing. Everything else will work itself out."
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Return of the Steel Curtain?

The Steel Curtain IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE "Mean" Joe Greene, LC Greenwood, Dwight White and Ernie Holmes.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Return of the Steel Curtain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LambertIsGod58 View Post
The Steel Curtain IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE "Mean" Joe Greene, LC Greenwood, Dwight White and Ernie Holmes.
Right on....Left off........So be it.......Amen........
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:55 PM   #4
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Default Re: Return of the Steel Curtain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LambertIsGod58 View Post
The Steel Curtain IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE "Mean" Joe Greene, LC Greenwood, Dwight White and Ernie Holmes.
Agree 100%. When I hear that term, they are the one's I think about.
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: Return of the Steel Curtain?

This defense is great, but the Steel Curtain is of the seventies and Blitzburgh is of the nineties.... what could we name our current generation of defense?
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Return of the Steel Curtain?

Quote:
So expect a lot of running and trying to win with field position early in the season.
arians knows all teams will be expecting alot of running, so he will switch it up to catch them off guard and deliver a TON of passing!

MUAHAHAHAHA! we will rule the world!

anyways, other than finding a clone of polamalu, our defense has definitely gotten even stronger than what they were last year. special (ed) teams too.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: Return of the Steel Curtain?

Hey guys, first time poster.

Great article. We're going to need a hell of a lot more out of our D this season to help Dixon in the first 4 games. I think getting Gay out of the #2 CB position will do just that. He was just terrible. Both him and T.C. at strong safety.

Worilds will also help keep Harrison fresh for a full 16 games. It looked like he was a bit hurt towards the end of last season so I hope he gets a decent amount of reps towards midseason. Gibson is an animal and should be one on special teams.

I was probably one of the few that liked the Foote re-signing as well. Farrior reeked in pass coverage last year and this will almost surely be his last. So he can probably come in on rotation and be the eventual replacement for the old man.
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:31 AM   #8
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Default Re: Return of the Steel Curtain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LambertIsGod58 View Post
The Steel Curtain IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE "Mean" Joe Greene, LC Greenwood, Dwight White and Ernie Holmes.
Agreed we have a good defense and glad to see them back together and hopefully healthy but there will never be another Steel Curtain like the names mentioned above.
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Old 05-05-2010, 06:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: Return of the Steel Curtain?

"Steel Curtain" was the '70s
"Blitzburgh" was the '90s
Now it's "Renegade".
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Old 05-05-2010, 07:28 AM   #10
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Default Re: Return of the Steel Curtain?

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Originally Posted by steelerdude15 View Post
This defense is great, but the Steel Curtain is of the seventies and Blitzburgh is of the nineties.... what could we name our current generation of defense?
Based upon last year....the 50 minute men
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