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Old 05-10-2010, 11:22 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Mitchell's job getting easier with age

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View From The Press Box
http://blog.triblive.com/view-from-t...ss+Box+Blog%29

Mitchell's job getting easier with age
May 10th, 2010

It is fitting that Steelers assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell is a connoisseur of fine wine.

That is because the players he coaches have aged like one of the bottles of wine Mitchell is fond of collecting when he isn’t busy working with one of the best lines in the NFL.

It is also why Mitchell laughs when he hears concerns about the Steelers getting too old up front even though the average age of their three starters is 32.3 years.

Defensive end Aaron Smith may be 34 but the elder statesman of the group isn’t thinking about retirement. Brett Keisel, who starts opposite Smith, is 31 but he is only going into his fifth season as a starter.

Mitchell said Keisel and nose tackle Casey Hampton, 32, are coming off their best seasons with the Steelers.

And Mitchell said Hampton is “working as hard as I’ve ever seen him work” during the offseason. So much for that three-year, $21.2 million contract Hampton signed in February going straight to the five-time Pro Bowler's waistline.

If there is one reason to be optimistic about the long-term future of the defensive line it is 2009 first-round pick Ziggy Hood.

He steadily improved during his rookie season and Mitchell indicated that Hood will be ready to start sooner rather than later should the Steelers need him.

“He’s going to be a heck of a player for us,” Mitchell said of Hood, who had eight tackles and a sack in 2009. “He’s made the decision he wants to be good. A lot of guys don’t make that until their last two, three years in this league. Well, their best years are behind them now.

“(Hood) is here, he gets better, he meets with me. This guy wants to be a good football player and he knows it’s just a matter of time before he’s going to take that one big giant step and be the type of player we want him to be. I’m excited about that guy.”

One reason the Steelers drafted Hood is because of the relentlessness as well as unselfishness he showed while starring at Missouri.

Both qualities make him a perfect fit for the Steelers -- and an eventual heir to Smith or Keisel.

Their influence on younger players such as Hood, second-year defensive end Sunny Harris and rookie defensive end Doug Worthington is one reason why Mitchell thinks the line will be just fine even though age has to become a factor at some point.

Smith, Keisel, Hampton and reserve nose tackle Chris Hoke, Mitchell said, have helped establish a foundation that will allow their contributions to the Steelers to continue even when they are no longer playing.

“It’s a delight for me to sit in my (meeting) room with the young guys when I can put my laser on Brett Keisel and say ‘Hey Ziggy Hood if you want to be a Brett Keisel watch this guy run 20 yards down the field and tag the runner.’ That’s the way you practice,” Mitchell said. “You don’t wait for Sunday, you do it every day. And it makes my job easier because these young guys they see that. Sunny Harris sees Brett Keisel run 15 yards in practice. Not one time, every time.

"So when I tell a guy ‘You’re not running’ all I’ve got to do it flip on the tape and say ‘Hey, you tell me if you’re running like Aaron Smith.’ You don’t have to be a 12-year (veteran) to do that. They make my job easy because of what they do Monday through Thursday.”
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: Mitchell's job getting easier with age

I really agree that Keisel has been underappreciated by Steelers fans. We all know Aaron Smith is underrated by the entire NFL fanbase except us, but even us steeler fans dont give Brett Keisel enough love! The guys been playing his best football the last two yearsm and even at 31 years old he's kicking and alive like a young buck! What's not to love
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mitchell's job getting easier with age

i totally buy what coach mitchell is selling.

last year during preseason vs. carolina, hood, eason, and harris manned the line.

although it was vs 2nd and 3rd stringers, i saw things that definitely left me optomistic for the future.

i bet hood has a longer and more productive career than all of the DT (or 3-4 DE's) drafted in his class or the year before.
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: Mitchell's job getting easier with age

Man I love Keisel........He aint underaprecciated.......He just dont need attention like some bafoons on the Team....

I remember in 04 I was talking to my friend on the phone coast to coast.........I said who is that 99 on the kickoffs.....He is all over the place .....He plays like some animal linebacker from the 60's.............He played a part in that 15-1 team...........He was killing people on kickoffs..............We should have kept his weight down, cause I still feel he would have been an all pro linebacker........The guy can just move accross the field fast..............
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Mitchell's job getting easier with age

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Originally Posted by wootawnee View Post
Man I love Keisel........He aint underaprecciated.......He just dont need attention like some bafoons on the Team....

I remember in 04 I was talking to my friend on the phone coast to coast.........I said who is that 99 on the kickoffs.....He is all over the place .....He plays like some animal linebacker from the 60's.............He played a part in that 15-1 team...........He was killing people on kickoffs..............We should have kept his weight down, cause I still feel he would have been an all pro linebacker........The guy can just move accross the field fast..............
Haha, Levon Kirkland #2
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Mitchell's job getting easier with age

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
i totally buy what coach mitchell is selling.

last year during preseason vs. carolina, hood, eason, and harris manned the line.

although it was vs 2nd and 3rd stringers, i saw things that definitely left me optomistic for the future.

i bet hood has a longer and more productive career than all of the DT (or 3-4 DE's) drafted in his class or the year before.
I had been hoping that since Ziggy was our 1st rounder last year he could earn himself a starting job his 2nd season.

I think Hood, Hampton and Smith starting would give us a damn good front 3.

Although i'd still rather it be a front 4 with Woodley at DE. LOL
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Old 05-11-2010, 06:04 PM   #7
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I had been hoping that since Ziggy was our 1st rounder last year he could earn himself a starting job his 2nd season.

I think Hood, Hampton and Smith starting would give us a damn good front 3.

Although i'd still rather it be a front 4 with Woodley at DE. LOL
See, this is what i mean. Keisel is so underappreciated everyone thinks Keisel is going to be the one losing a starting job once Ziggy gets good enough. We resigned Keisel for 5 years with starter's money for a reason. He's a big part of our future. Not Aaron Smith (at least now anymore)
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Old 05-11-2010, 11:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mitchell's job getting easier with age

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See, this is what i mean. Keisel is so underappreciated everyone thinks Keisel is going to be the one losing a starting job once Ziggy gets good enough. We resigned Keisel for 5 years with starter's money for a reason. He's a big part of our future. Not Aaron Smith (at least now anymore)
I was just thinking short-term. Until Smith retires.

I just want to see our 1st rounder pan out and earn himself a starting job and make us even better.
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: Mitchell's job getting easier with age

Smith and Keisel better watch out if they start having a down year they could be replaced pretty easy by Hood. I think this will be the year for him.
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Old 05-12-2010, 12:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mitchell's job getting easier with age

Still say if Hood cant start his second year, He was not worthy of a first rounder.
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