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Old 08-23-2006, 04:51 AM   #1
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Default Simmons to play center on Friday

Steelers Notebook: Simmons to play new position vs. Eagles Friday
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Kendall Simmons has played exclusively at guard since he was drafted out of Auburn in 2002. Before his junior season in college, he was switched to tackle and performed so well that he was named all-Southeastern Conference.

In his 10-plus years as an offensive lineman, Simmons has seen it all and from nearly every perspective. The only place Simmons has not viewed his profession from is center.

When the Steelers travel to Philadelphia Friday for their third preseason game, Simmons will get that unique perspective for the first time in his entire football career.

"We got him some reps last week and a couple the week before," offensive line coach Russ Grimm said. "He'll get a lot more in practice this week. We're going to get him in the game some at the center spot and see what he can do there. It leaves us another option. It's a plus. It gives you some different options on game day. Who's up and who's down? In case of an emergency, you have another center. We'll see how it goes."

Simmons, a five-year veteran and the starting right guard, will play at center against the Eagles because of uncertainty about backup center Chukky Okobi, who had neck surgery two weeks ago. Even though Okobi is expected to practice next week, the Steelers want to see Simmons in action there because he could give them game-day roster flexibility.

One former Steelers lineman knows the pressures of being a center. Tunch Ilkin, an all-Pro tackle in the 1980s, was drafted out of Indiana State as a center. He said Simmons has the athleticism and makeup to play center, but noted that it takes a lot of practice to get it down pat.

"Right after the draft in Kendall's rookie year, I was down at the Tennessee Titans' facility," Ilkin recalled. "[Tennessee line coach] Mike Munchak is an old friend of mine. He was lamenting the fact that the Steelers drafted Kendall because he really wanted him.

"He said, 'I was going to draft him and put him at center. I think he'd make a great center.' When you look at Kendall Simmons, he's a great athlete. He's very compact with short arms. He's got that prototypical, squat-monster center build. The fact that he's a great athlete ... let's face it, to play center you have to be a great athlete. You have to be able to snap the ball and move right or left, backward or forward with the ball in your hands.

"If I was Kendall I would get as many snaps as I can this week. It's not an easy adjustment by any means. It's one thing to have a 300-pound mutation lined up across from you at guard. You just come flying off the ball. It's another when you have one lined up across from you at center. You have to snap the ball, then get your hands on the guy. The key is being able to snap the ball and move toward your target at the same time. If you snap and then move, you're going to get smashed every time."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06235/715564-66.stm
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Old 08-23-2006, 06:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: Simmons to play center on Friday

Nice to have another emergency option...but from all accounts..Chucky is going to be ready pretty soon....Looks like the practice squad for Philips????

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Old 08-23-2006, 09:05 AM   #3
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Default Re: Simmons to play center on Friday

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackNGold203
Nice to have another emergency option...but from all accounts..Chucky is going to be ready pretty soon....Looks like the practice squad for Philips????

i dont think so. that would be just like handing him over to the browns.
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: Simmons to play center on Friday

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest
i dont think so. that would be just like handing him over to the browns.


Right Tony....good call....
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Simmons to play center on Friday

I had stated in a previous post that I thought the Steelers may move a guard to center...my thinking is that Kemoeatu is a force at run blocking and is getting better at pass protection...I feel pretty confident in him taking Simmons spot on the line. I have never really been sold on Okobi, and would love to see Simmons thrive at this position!!

Last edited by lamberts-lost-tooth; 08-23-2006 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 08-23-2006, 11:06 AM   #6
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Default Re: Simmons to play center on Friday

This was mentioned last week that Simmons had been working out at center during practice. Cowher stated it was only a "just in case" scenario and he wanted to have another option for cetner, at least someone with some line experience...
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Old 08-23-2006, 01:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: Simmons to play center on Friday

I odnt think they can put Phillip on practive squad cause he will get snatched up and if something does happen to Hartings... Okobi may or may not be ready to go.. kinda have to wait and see how things work out with that when he is able to play... Plus, Simmons may be an emergency at this point.. but not sure that want him playing center with no experience for the rest of year if something did happen to Hartings and Okobi wasnt able to go. I think maybe it is what it is .. an emergency situation only to have in case Hartsings does get hurt or does retire next year... if Simmons can play both, then we will only need to keep Okobi and Phillip next year.
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Old 08-23-2006, 04:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Simmons to play center on Friday

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony hipchest
i dont think so. that would be just like handing him over to the browns.
The way Phillips has been playing Keisel might get to the snap before Frye. Cut him.
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