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Old 12-04-2011, 08:53 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many
Sunday, December 04, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The mess that was the Steelers offensive line to start the season suddenly looks as if it has a good foothold on the future. Now, however, they will have to make a tough decision at tackle after the season.

Willie Colon, who signed a five-year, $29 million contract this year, will return from the triceps injury that knocked him out for the season in the opening game in Baltimore. Then what do they do?

One solution: Return Colon to his job as the starting right tackle and move Marcus Gilbert to left tackle, the spot which they had in mind for him when they drafted him on the second round this year. Left tackle Max Starks becomes a free agent and he's liable to get some decent offers elsewhere.

Or should the Steelers try to keep Starks and let the three compete for two jobs? Colon always can play guard but suddenly the Steelers are more than happy with their two starting guards, Doug Legursky on the left and Ramon Foster on the right. Chris Kemoeatu, their highest-paid active lineman (5 years, $20 million) who lost his four-year starting job at left guard to Legursky last week, would now appear to have an uncertain future here.

It's a better dilemma than the one they faced early this season, especially after Colon's injury.

Gilbert has helped solidify the position as much as the return of Starks, who was cut before training camp and re-signed Oct. 5.

"We knew he had the talent and ... so far he's managed to show us he's more than ready to play each Sunday," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "He can play left tackle, right tackle, right guard. This kid is a player. If he keeps his head on straight and continues to improve, the sky's the limit for him athletically."

Veteran Flozell Adams bailed them out in 2010 at right tackle when he signed to replace Colon, who also missed that season with a torn Achilles. Adams was noted for his run-blocking at right tackle. And Gilbert?

"He's actually a better run-blocker than Flo right now," Arians said. "Flo did an unbelievable job of what he had left in his body last year. His mass covered people up more than move them, but he covered them up pretty good.

"Marcus is getting movement, and he and Ramon have become a pretty good solid side as far as run-blocking. That right side has been double-teaming people pretty good. And when we run behind Max and Chris or Max and Doug, it hasn't been bad either. But all of it just needs to get a little bit better for December and January."

Draft doesn't measure everything

Legursky and Foster, the current starting guard duo, have succeeded where many draft picks could not. Neither was drafted. Legursky, who played at Marshall, signed after the draft in 2008. Foster, who played at Tennessee, signed after the draft in 2009.

So how do undrafted players wind up making it while a third-round pick such as 2009's Kraig Urbik gets released?

"The draft is so much about measurables and less about tape," Arians said. "... Kevin [Colbert] and his entire group put a lot of stock on how you play football and not how you measure.

"These guys are good football players at really good programs. Doug started 44 games at Marshall, Ramon started as a swing tackle on both sides so he had real position flexibility.

"The main ingredient for those kinds of guys is they are tough and they are smart. That will overcome whatever physical limitations they have."

Legursky stands only 6 feet 1, although he weighs 323 pounds. His height is what kept him from being drafted, Arians said.

"He's short -- not small, just short. If he were four inches taller he'd be in the Pro Bowl," Arians said. "I think he would get his due if his stature were different, but it doesn't affect how he plays football and as a football player he's one of the best we have."

Legursky's versatility has both helped and hindered him. The Steelers love their linemen to be able to play a few positions. But now that he's starting at left guard, it might benefit him if he could stay there. But early in the second quarter Sunday in Kansas City, he had to switch to center when Maurkice Pouncey took ill. Even though Legursky will start at left guard today, he practiced at center Wednesday and Thursday this week until Pouncey returned.

"It does affect you," Arians said. "It affects his preparation. But he's a smart enough player and the techniques are similar enough that he'll be more than ready."

Was that ... ? Yes, it was

It was an atypical week for quarterback Charlie Batch in practice Thursday. He actually took some snaps with the first team offense after starter Ben Roethlisberger hit his right hand on a helmet and sat out the final offensive session.

Chances are, though, he'll see his usual action today -- none.

Batch has taken two snaps in a game this season and handed off twice, in a 24-0 victory against Seattle in the second game.

Roethlisberger rarely misses time because of injuries and he rarely leaves games for any other reason, which has left Batch as busy as the Maytag repairman.

In 2010, he played through the first four games because of Roethlisberger's suspension -- starting the third and fourth -- and never played another snap. In 2009, he played in one game and threw two passes. He missed the 2008 season with an injury.

The onetime franchise quarterback of the Detroit Lions has become accustomed to doing nothing on game days, running the scout team on weekdays and being prepared to possibly help salvage a season at a moment's notice as he did in 2005 when he started and won two games for the injured Roethlisberger to keep their Super Bowl season going.

"You just have to use that experience as a starter to know how to prepare as a starter," said Batch, Detroit's starter from his rookie season in 1998 through an injury that ended his 2001 season in the 11th game. "The only difference is you don't get the physical reps. But when you have to play, regardless of the circumstances, nobody cares if you had practice time or not. You'd better complete the daggone pass.

"That's how it is, the nature of it. You would love a full week to prepare if you're going to play. But there are times you may get the ball in the fourth quarter and it's third-and-12 and you have to go out and play."
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11338...#ixzz1fZdssGBc
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

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"Marcus is getting movement, and he and Ramon have become a pretty good solid side as far as run-blocking. That right side has been double-teaming people pretty good. And when we run behind Max and Chris or Max and Doug, it hasn't been bad either.
hasn't been bad ??? i don't know what team he's been watching . i bet mendenhall would somewhat disagree.
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:44 PM   #3
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

I don't see any Push on that O-Line in the run game....Pass Blocking is Improved but until they get a Good pair of guards next to Pouncey he's going to be all alone in there
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

I say either cut Colon and stick with the current line or shift Colon to guard, start Foster/Legursky at guard and cut Kemo (I'm a fan of the latter). But considering the emergence of Gilbert as a decent/reliable tackle and Starks pretty much saving our season with his outstanding play, I don't see any reason to get rid of Starks right now (he's only 29, we can still get a few more years from him) or keep Colon as a tackle with that kind of contract.
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Old 12-04-2011, 04:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

starks has played well enough for other teams to notice. someone else might offer him a little more than what the steelers might be willing to offer.
i've been a strong proponent of moving colon to guard since they drafted him.

i'd be happy with....
starks ....draft pick ....pouncey....colon...gilbert
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

I would not let Starks go over an injury prone Colon. He's played like 4 games in the past 2 years.
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:56 PM   #7
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

Bring back Starks. He's got good chemistry with the line and Ben. Not sure what to do about Colon since he's so injury prone. Gilbert looks like he could have potential to be a good RT though.
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

Not a fan of Colon--I know the FO likes him in the run game, but he's just such a brutally bad pass blocker.
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

Quote:
"He's short -- not small, just short. If he were four inches taller he'd be in the Pro Bowl," Arians said. "I think he would get his due if his stature were different, but it doesn't affect how he plays football and as a football player he's one of the best we have."
apparently arians brain shuts down as soon as he opens his mouth.
first he says if he's taller he'd be a pro bowler , suggesting that his height limits his play , then he says his height doesn't affect his play ...
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Tackle: From not enough to too many

It's like night and day since Starks came back and Gilbert took over. Ben actually has a pocket to step into once in awhile. Not as much as it should be but it was a turnstile to the QB early in the season. I wish Kemo had some brains. He could be dangerous with his bulk if he just used his head. But I think it is impossible at this time for him to ever get better. He seems to have regressed this year instead of gotten better. Thank God Scott is no longer the blind side tackle. That was hideous. I hope he is not here next year. Colon I don't know about. He can't seem to stay on the field any more so he should be let go.
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