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Old 05-05-2012, 06:14 PM   #1
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Default AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

AFC North holes to fill: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

By Elliot Harrison NFL.com
Published: May 2, 2012



Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL last season and could miss the beginning of 2012, as well.

With the 2012 NFL Draft and the bulk of free agency in the rearview mirror, NFL.com analyst Elliot Harrison is examining each team's offseason activity and identifying remaining holes to fill.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Free agency: The Rooney family is rarely a major player in the free-agent market, and 2012 was no exception. The Steelers did go out and get tight end Leonard Pope to give them flexibility in both the ground and passing games. Meanwhile, Mike Wallace still hasn't signed his restricted free agent tender.

Draft: Pittsburgh might have secured the best value in the first round by taking Stanford guard David DeCastro at 24th overall. The Steelers snatched up another first-round talent in the second round, tackle Mike Adams, further fortifying the offensive line. Third-round pick Sean Spence can step in if Larry Foote falters or James Harrison succumbs to age. DT Alameda Ta'amu was thought to be a second-round talent that the Steelers stole in the fourth.

Holes to fill: For a 12-4 club, Pittsburgh still has some holes. Running back is one of 'em. A big one. Rashard Mendenhall is hurt and dances far too much for Steelers fans. Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch ... you're up. Question is, are any capable of providing Mendenhall's big-play ability while being more north and south? On Dick LeBeau's defense, two holes remain: A) Is Curtis Brown, 23, ready at right corner; and B) Is the age on the defensive line going to be a severe problem? Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton are getting up there. The Steelers are hoping 2011 first-round pick Cam Heyward, like Brown, can step up this year. That would allow Ziggy Hood to move inside more often to keep a more effective line rotation.

Baltimore Ravens

Free agency: The Ravens lost Ben Grubbs and weren't the most active shoppers in the free-agent marketplace. (Unless you consider Sean Considine and Corey Graham to be prime-time acquisitions.)

Draft: While Ravens fans were disappointed the club traded out of the first round, coach John Harbaugh got a heckuva bargain in DE/LB Courtney Upshaw in the Round 2. Hopefully he'll make up for the Sergio Kindle debacle. Later in the same round, GM Ozzie Newsome acquired G Kelechi Osemele, and then grabbed Gino Gradkowski in the Round 4 to further bolster that position group, a sudden weakness with Grubbs' departure.

Holes to fill: Tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta need to step it up this season and make more clutch plays -- particularly Dickson. The Ravens did the right thing in getting Ray Rice a nice complement in third-round pick Bernard Pierce, but the passing game will only be so-so until Torrey Smith develops into a more consistent player and the tight ends are capable of making, dare we say, Todd Heap-esque catches over the middle. With former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano gone, new guy Dean Pees has to hope Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed can bring it another season. Upshaw is definitely Suggs' insurance, so to speak, but the issue is that Lewis and Reed have more wear and tear. If both go down, it could be a deal-breaker for Baltimore in the AFC North. Hopefully mid-rounder Christian Thompson from South Carolina State can open some eyes should Reed get sidelined.

Cincinnati Bengals

Free agency: The Bengals added some bodies to the offense, signing Travelle Wharton and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The latter should see at least 250 touches this season. Defensively, former top-10 picks Jamaal Anderson, Derrick Harvey and Terence Newman join Mike Zimmer's unit. Re-signing Reggie Nelson was a necessary evil.

Draft: The 2012 draft might have retooled this club for the next five years. CB Dre Kirkpatrick, OG Kevin Zeitler, DT Devon Still, DT Brandon Thompson and WR Mohamed Sanu should all be in the mix right away. Each of those players could feasibly stake his claim to being a top-50 player in the 2012 draft class, and the Bengals got them all.

Holes to fill: Green-Ellis could've used a complementary back. Bernard Scott is just a guy, while taking Dan Herron in the sixth wasn't the answer here. Considering Andy Dalton is still such a young player, giving him a running game -- the way the Steelers did with Ben Roethlisberger and the Ravens did with Joe Flacco in their early years -- would be smart. Defensively, Cincinnati still could use one guy that teams have to prepare for in their pass-protection schemes. Right now it's a pass rush by committee. Zimmer's plan, and rightly so, attempts to create pressure by rotating fresh legs through the lineup. Still, having one edge guy who commands double-teams would make this club a real contender, as opposed to a wild-card team.

Cleveland Browns

Free agency: The most notable offseason move for Cleveland was signing Frostee Rucker away from Cincinnati. He should start immediately at defensive end. Juqua Parker, formerly of the Eagles, was added to the defensive line rotation, as well.

Draft: Cleveland made major headlines in the draft, trading up to select RB Trent Richardson and getting possible a quarterback of the future (or now, considering his advanced age) in Brandon Weeden. The Browns spent five picks on defense, but the key selection might be second-rounder Mitchell Schwartz, who should be penciled in at right tackle immediately.

Holes to fill: While the line and backfield situation have been solidified, how can the Browns evaluate Colt McCoy properly without providing any weapons in the passing game? Cleveland failed to land a wideout in either free agency or the draft, leaving the third-year quarterback with Greg Little and a bunch of dudes from Devry. Good luck, Weeden. On defense, much like the Bengals, the Browns lack a big-time pass rusher to make opposing offensive coordinators adjust. Moreover, while the linebackers were decent in 2011, they weren't always stout versus the run, where they should be making the majority of their big plays.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d...P11_hot_topics
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Old 05-05-2012, 06:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

Didn't Suggs tear his achilles? That's a huge loss for them.
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Old 05-05-2012, 06:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

Quote:
Originally Posted by RufSteel View Post
Didn't Suggs tear his achilles? That's a huge loss for them.


the article was likely completed right before the Suggs injury announcement.

But i agree, our running game is a question mark. I hope Redman can step up and be a big time back. I think he can do it.
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Old 05-05-2012, 06:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

Hugh?? What???

our D-Line is in pretty good shape now that we have Ta'amu....If Brett can come back strong they'll be down right nasty again
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:54 PM   #5
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Default Re: AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

Will Another Experienced Running Back Body Be Added To The Mix By Training Camp?

Friday, May 4th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Baron Batch has denied the report this morning by Ed Bouchette stating that he hasn't been cleared to practice as he looks to return from his torn ACL suffered late in training camp last year. Batch stated that he is not working in the camp session this weekend with the rookies and the other first year players signed this offseason because he is not required to.

When you look at the running back numbers currently on the roster, you wonder if another running back, one with more experience, could possibly be added into the mix prior to the start of training camp. There are two things that we currently know as we sit here in early May in regard to the running back position with the first being that Rashard Mendenhall will open training camp on the PUP list as he too is recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns. The second thing that we know is that Isaac Redman is a lock to make the 53 man roster and will be the week one starter should Mendenhall start the season on the PUP list.

Currently behind both Mendenhall and Redman sit Batch, Jonathan Dwyer, John Clay and fifth round draft pick Chris Rainey, with only Dwyer and Clay having very limited regular season snaps of that group. Chad Spann was thought to be a player that would be on the roster by the time training camp opened, but he was released this past week. The release of Spann leaves the Steelers with just five running backs on the roster that presumably will be healthy enough to participate in camp once it is open. Dwyer ended the 2011 season on the injured reserve list with a broken foot, but he is reportedly back running again and there is no reason to believe he will not be ready by the time camp rolls around.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said during the Steelers post draft press conference that the team is still open to working free agency moving forward, and while he did not specifically single out the running back position in his remarks, he did say, "I don't think we've laid any of these positional things to bed. What we seek of course is competition."

While the bulk of the free agency signings around the league now passed around the, a few running backs with experience still remain unsigned. The most notable names that could likely fit in as camp competition at this point are Jackie Battle, Joseph Addai, Ronnie Brown, Justin Forsett, Ryan Grant, Thomas Jones and Jerious Norwood to name just a few. Mewelde Moore also remains out of work right now as well. If another back with experience is indeed signed, it would likely be to a one-year deal for the minimum with no guarantees attached.

The Steelers could of course just decide to add a few more undrafted types that did not latch on after the draft, or they very well could be completely comfortable opening camp with just the five healthy players already on the roster. We shall see how this plays out.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/ar..._camp/10719392
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Old 05-05-2012, 09:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

"Spence can come in if Foote falters or Harrison succumbs to age"? Does this guy know our team at all? First off, the age thing is getting blown way out of proportion, James Harrison squats 700lbs, I think he is in good enough shape to "make it" through the year. Second, Harrison would be backed up by Worilds and if Worilds wasn't available it would likely be Carter. Spence will be an ILB and could come in if Foote "falters", but would he even come in before Sylvester? I agree the running game sucked LAST year, but I think Redman is an improvement over Mendy and this year we will have an O line, I think it will pick up a lot this year.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

how long is it gonna take before people realize that the oline is 95% of the running game ?
people give WAY too much credit or blame to the RB's.... mendenhall wasn't knocked for "dancing" too much in college , you know why ? because his oline made the freakin holes open BEFORE he got to the line !!!
does anyone really think its a coincidence that alabama had the 2 top college rb's 2 years in a row ? does anyone think maybe...just maybe.. the line had a teeny bit to do with ingram's and richardson's success ?

anyone remember denver back around the days of clinton portis ? remember how it seemed like no matter who they stuck back there to carry the rock they they found success ?
i'm not suggesting all backs are created equal, some are more athletic , some have better vision and instincts , but i do know without a solid 5 up front it doesn't matter who you hand the ball too they'll fail.

the most pissed off person in pittsburgh right now should be mendenhall. . between shitty play calling and a shitty supporting cast he was set up to fail .
it's like putting a great actor in a B movie with a low budget ,a horrible director , and terrible supporting cast actors. then have the critics bash the actor.

would anybody know who wes welker is right now had he stayed in miami ?
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Old 05-06-2012, 12:01 AM   #8
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Default Re: AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

Another reach if an article about the Steelers.
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Old 05-06-2012, 01:47 AM   #9
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Default Re: AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterOfPuppets View Post
how long is it gonna take before people realize that the oline is 95% of the running game ?
people give WAY too much credit or blame to the RB's.... mendenhall wasn't knocked for "dancing" too much in college , you know why ? because his oline made the freakin holes open BEFORE he got to the line !!!
does anyone really think its a coincidence that alabama had the 2 top college rb's 2 years in a row ? does anyone think maybe...just maybe.. the line had a teeny bit to do with ingram's and richardson's success ?

anyone remember denver back around the days of clinton portis ? remember how it seemed like no matter who they stuck back there to carry the rock they they found success ?
i'm not suggesting all backs are created equal, some are more athletic , some have better vision and instincts , but i do know without a solid 5 up front it doesn't matter who you hand the ball too they'll fail.

the most pissed off person in pittsburgh right now should be mendenhall. . between shitty play calling and a shitty supporting cast he was set up to fail .
it's like putting a great actor in a B movie with a low budget ,a horrible director , and terrible supporting cast actors. then have the critics bash the actor.

would anybody know who wes welker is right now had he stayed in miami ?
I agree....he did dance a little too much but I thought he performed admirably with the swiss cheese he's had here during his career

Really Hope he gets another shot an lights it up with this new unit

That said he's up there on the chopping block when it comes to saving some coin for Wallace
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:29 AM   #10
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Default Re: AFC North: Run-game issues for Steelers, Bengals

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanda10506 View Post
"Spence can come in if Foote falters or Harrison succumbs to age"? Does this guy know our team at all? First off, the age thing is getting blown way out of proportion, James Harrison squats 700lbs, I think he is in good enough shape to "make it" through the year. Second, Harrison would be backed up by Worilds and if Worilds wasn't available it would likely be Carter. Spence will be an ILB and could come in if Foote "falters", but would he even come in before Sylvester? I agree the running game sucked LAST year, but I think Redman is an improvement over Mendy and this year we will have an O line, I think it will pick up a lot this year.
Exactly, what a hack of an article.

Also, MOP is right that with a better O line, we can put Ricardisimo at RB and still grind out 100 yard games.
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