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Old 01-05-2015, 05:05 AM   #1
Galax Steeler
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Default On the Steelers: Some players moving on

By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Reporters pouring into the Steelers locker room Saturday night witnessed an unusual sight: Two very large men in a long embrace in the middle of the locker room, tears flowing.

This had little to do with their playoff ouster by the Baltimore Ravens, 30-17. It had everything to do with the idea that more than a season ended -- the careers of many in that locker room may have ended, as well.

Cam Heyward hugged fellow defensive end Brett Keisel for a long time as both realized it might be their final time in a locker room together. Heyward is integral in the transition to the new Steelers. Keisel, 36, returned to the team in August to help bridge that transition and did so quite well until a torn biceps ended his season Nov. 30.

Chances are, Keisel and others who helped the Steelers win two Super Bowl title and three AFC championships won't return for another season. The others are Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and James Harrison.

"This team is not going to be the same next year," Heyward said, his eyes red. "And it breaks my heart."

The transition and reconstruction that began after the 2011 season when they went 12-4 will continue, mostly on defense where they need more help in the secondary and the pass rush, which is to say a major job still lies ahead.

They already had decided to go without Keisel and Harrison, but then weaknesses and injuries prompted them to call back their old gunslingers for one final fight, and they helped the defense and aided in the Steelers returning to the top of the AFC North Division after consecutive 8-8 seasons out of the playoffs.

But now it is time again. Those four veterans who have meant so much for so long to that defense likely will not return in 2015. Reporters were busy asking each if he planned to return to the Steelers next season. It most likely will not be their choice.

"I don't know what this team is going to look like," Heyward continued. "I just appreciate everything they do. It's just tough to think about. I didn't think about it until after the game. You'll never know how much these guys sacrificed. You just don't know what's going to happen in the future."

Thus, the long hug between Heyward and Keisel.

"Yeah, he's meant so much to me and it just [stinks] going out this way," Heyward said. "I'd love to have him back another year, but we just don't know what that entails."

More changes on the way

Those four veterans are not the only ones who may not return. Jason Worilds played through a one-year contract that paid him nearly $10 million and could become a free agent unless they want to pay him a similar amount. Another outside linebacker, Arthur Moats, is not under contract for 2015, nor is starting cornerback Brice McCain.

Young players and high draft picks such as Ryan Shazier, Jarvis Jones and Stephon Tuitt must improve dramatically in 2015.

Their pass rush Saturday night looked like it did for much of the season -- abysmal. Their 33 sacks ranked 26th in the NFL, their fewest in 24 seasons. Worilds and Heyward tied for the team lead with 7 apiece, and Harrison added 5. Those three accounted for 62 percent of their sacks and only Heyward is under contract for 2015.

They also will need to improve in another area, according to Harrison.

"You have a young team, hopefully it can do nothing but continue to grow and get better as guys learn to be professionals, learn to be Steelers, figure out what it takes to be a Steeler and not just play for the Steelers," he said.

Harrison explained what he meant by that: "It's a mindset, it's a work ethic, it's a determination."

For all the changes the Steelers have made on defense the past few years -- shooing out the likes of James Farrior, Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith and even Harrison and Keisel before their returns -- more work remains.

"Everything can use improvement," Harrison said. "If you stay the same, obviously you're not doing what needs to be done. Each year, you need to improve. I don't care if you're the best at your position, if you're the best team that year, the next year, you need to come back and do better."

No Bell, no prize

Where the Steelers offense missed Le'Veon Bell most against the Ravens was his threat as a receiver -- he caught 83 passes for 854 yards in 2014, second on the team and records for a Steelers running back.

That dump-off pass Ben Roethlisberger tried to make to Ben Tate that went right through Tate's hands for an interception by Terrell Suggs was a perfect example. Bell usually makes that play and might have made something out of it, like a first down, as he did against Houston that kick-started the Steelers toward the playoffs. In trouble on third down from the 14 and trailing the Texans, 13-0, Roethlisberger dumped a pass to Bell behind the line of scrimmage. He turned it into a 43-yard gain and the Steelers came back to win the first of three in a row.

"Absolutely, there was an effect," Antonio Brown said of missing Bell from the offense.

Tying up loose ends

Coach Mike Tomlin will meet with his players today and hold a news conference at noon Tuesday to wrap up the season. He also meets with each player individually before they depart for some time off.

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/s...s/201501050078
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Old 01-05-2015, 05:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Some players moving on

It was sad to see some of the post-game interviews with the veterans. Troy Polomalu looked like he knew it was the end.

Steve McLendon's broke my heart, man

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Old 01-05-2015, 08:19 AM   #3
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Some players moving on

It's really tough for a Steeler Fan/ teammate to see the dramatic decrease in Troys' skills, Ike should hang them up as well but Harrison could have a year left(the guy has a pass rush motor but has no business in pass coverage). The Steelers have a lot of work in the offseason they should pick up atleast 2 CBs and a Saftey.
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Some players moving on

and let's not just rely on drafts. Get some quality FAs. Need good NT.
Look at the Ravens signed Dumervil. Look what he has done to that D.
Don't need high end FA. But some very good mid-teer FAs.
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Some players moving on

the NT position is fine.

Crazy how underrated McLendon is by fans. Every Sunday he always did his job and made plays.

Last edited by BLACK_AND_YELLOW; 01-05-2015 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 01-05-2015, 11:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Some players moving on

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steelers>NFL View Post
and let's not just rely on drafts. Get some quality FAs. Need good NT.
Look at the Ravens signed Dumervil. Look what he has done to that D.
Don't need high end FA. But some very good mid-teer FAs.
Yeah and Dumerville signed for 5 year $25.5 million. With other incentives it could be $35million. Ravens got good return on investment for him, where the Steelers didnt do quite as well for what they paid their OLB's.
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Old 01-05-2015, 12:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Some players moving on

Good to see keisel still stunting cam heywards growth and breaking his heart.
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Old 01-05-2015, 03:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Some players moving on

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terminator View Post
It was sad to see some of the post-game interviews with the veterans. Troy Polomalu looked like he knew it was the end.

Steve McLendon's broke my heart, man



I know, I literally cried.

Watching the post game interviews, I don't recall seeing any of these guys look so dejected and down (except maybe after we loss to the Packs in the SB).

It looks like Cam Heyward is really emerging as a future leader, and what I like to refer to as a "true Steeler". Nice job with your tutelage, Beard.
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Old 01-05-2015, 06:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Some players moving on

players should be proud of the season they had.. a few more pieces to the puzzle need to be had they are on the rise.
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Old 01-05-2015, 06:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Some players moving on

NFL roster turnover is 20-25% per year. Outside of Kickers and Qbs Its a young mans game, you need good depth.
Sure Its sad to see some players leave but keeping paying and keeping players past their prime is worse.
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