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Old 04-21-2012, 12:24 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer dlolley@observer-reporter.com
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/...efensive-backs

The Steelers led the NFL in pass defense last year for the second time in three seasons, limiting opponents to 172 yards per game.

But the secondary was exposed in a playoff loss at Denver, allowing numerous big plays, including an 80-yard touchdown pass on the opening play from scrimmage in overtime that ended Pittsburgh's season.

With that in mind, many expect the Steelers will be looking for help in the secondary during the NFL draft, which will be held April 26-28.

The Steelers hold 10 picks, including the 24th selection of the first round.

Even with the loss of starting cornerback William Gay as a free agent and the release of former starter Bryant McFadden, the Steelers feel good about what they have in the secondary.

Cornerback Ike Taylor is coming off one of his strongest seasons, and veteran Keenan Lewis stepped in as the third cornerback last season and performed admirably. The Steelers also are excited about the potential of Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, a pair of rookies in 2011.

The team also is solid at safety with Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark both coming off Pro Bowl seasons and a pair of veterans in Ryan Mundy and Will Allen as backups.

However, the age of the players in the secondary could be a concern. Clark is 32, and Taylor and Polamalu each are 31. (And when the last time we got a full year play from Troy? Given the way Troy plays and his concussion history he won't be playing much longer. I think we need to draft a top safety or corner back especially since hands of stone Taylor can't catch (intercept) a cold. - mesa)

Because of that, adding youth to the secondary will be a priority in the draft, particularly in the later rounds.

At cornerback, LSU's Morris Claiborne is the clear-cut top pick and will likely be one of the first five or six players selected. South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore should be the next cornerback selected, slipping in ahead of Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick, who didn't help his draft stock by getting arrested for marijuana possession earlier this year.

But the player who is the biggest wildcard among the cornerbacks in this draft is North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins, who began his career at Florida but transferred after being arrested several times, including twice for marijuana possession.

"(As far as) talent, top 10 to 15," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper via conference call. "If he had no red flags, he would be in the top 15, at worst the top 20, probably top 17, because Cincinnati is picking 17 and needs a corner. He could still be in the mix. The Lions need a corner desperately at 23.

"Or he could get into the second round very easily. I have him going to Carolina, picked 40th. Could he be a first? Yeah, but if that does push him down, it'll be for that reason."

Among safeties, Alabama's Mark Barron is likely the only player at the position who will be selected in the first round.

In later rounds, the Steelers could take a look at Wayne State's Jeremy Jones, West Virginia's Keith Tandy, or Coastal Carolina's Josh Norman.

Jones (5-10, 197) played free safety at Wayne State, setting records with 406 return yards on his 17 career interceptions. He also showed some ability to blitz, finishing with 8 1/2 career sacks.

Tandy (5-10, 202) also is more of a safety prospect, though he started his final two seasons for the Mountaineers at cornerback. A strong tackler, Tandy showed good ball skills throughout his career, recording 10 in his final two seasons.

Norman (6-0, 190) intercepted eight passes as a sophomore. Teams spent the next two years trying to avoid Norman's area. Solid in run support, Norman fits what the Steelers like in their cornerbacks as he led team in tackles with 62 as a senior.

Odds and end zones

Friday was the final day for teams to make offers to restricted free agents, meaning wide receiver Mike Wallace has no option but to return to the Steelers in 2012. ... Former Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon visited the Baltimore Ravens Thursday but was not signed to a contract. The Ravens instead signed Curtis Painter, who started last season for Indianapolis in place of injured Peyton Manning.
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Old 04-21-2012, 03:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

the steelers dont need help at secondary more than what they already got (other than a replacement for gay's and mcfaddens roster spot- they may actually like rolle or cromartie).

what they really need is to actually practice and prepare for anything. they were caught with their pants down vs denver.

ryan clark admitted the team was prepared for ANYTHING the denver offense could bring to them going into the playoffs, with exception of tebow having a 300+ yard passing day.

they werent prepared because they (like 30 other teams and millions of pundits, analysts, and fans) didnt think it was remotely possible.

lesson learned. same mistake wont be made vs manning and the broncos.
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Old 04-21-2012, 03:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

Lets hope Curtis Painter gets a few starts.....
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Old 04-21-2012, 03:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

when joe flacco saw that the ravens signed painter, even he raised his eyebrow.
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Old 04-21-2012, 03:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

U mean the one that he only has....lol
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Old 04-21-2012, 03:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

we're good at corners. ike / lewis should be a good #1 and #2 and i'm expecting big things from allen and brown. Actually really looking forward to seeing them battle it out in training camp for the #3 spot.

cortez was able to shadow gronkowski vs the pats which speaks bounds about his potential

in the secondary, i don't think it will make much sense to draft a corner, unless a top 15 talent drops to us somehow. I certainly wouldn't be mad if we picked someone like kirkpatrick in rd 1 if he falls that far, though I think safety is more of an issue because troy and clark are getting up there in years. I'm not sold on mundy and allen to step in and be starters.
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:12 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

Allen and Brown have both looked good when they get chances to play. Allen especially. Lewis is a good nickle corner and I could definetly see Lewis going to #3 and Allen moving to #2.
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:10 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

Lewis played outside, not nickel, when he came in.
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

Quote:
Given the way Troy plays and his concussion history he won't be playing much longer.
Thats my biggest worry. Troy matters.
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers might turn corner with younger secondary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire Arians View Post
we're good at corners. ike / lewis should be a good #1 and #2 and i'm expecting big things from allen and brown. Actually really looking forward to seeing them battle it out in training camp for the #3 spot.

cortez was able to shadow gronkowski vs the pats which speaks bounds about his potential

in the secondary, i don't think it will make much sense to draft a corner, unless a top 15 talent drops to us somehow. I certainly wouldn't be mad if we picked someone like kirkpatrick in rd 1 if he falls that far, though I think safety is more of an issue because troy and clark are getting up there in years. I'm not sold on mundy and allen to step in and be starters.
I think we will be good in the secondary as well, although I think the battle for the #2 CB spot is between Brown and Allen. I think Lewis remains at #3. I am hopeful that Role turns out to be a steal and provides solid back up play at Safety.
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