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Old 08-28-2006, 11:07 PM   #1
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Default Secondary Indecision

Secondary indecision

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, August 29, 2006


The free safety question was raised again Monday afternoon, but Steelers coach Bill Cowher still didn't have an answer.
"I'm not ready to make an announcement yet," Cowher said.

Veterans Tyrone Carter and Ryan Clark are the two main combatants for the starting spot vacated by Chris Hope's free-agent departure to Tennessee.

No. 3a pick Anthony Smith remains a player no one is officially ready to rule out of the competition, but also one that seemingly only linebacker James Farrior includes unprompted in discussions about the position.

Carter, a seventh-year pro who is entering his third season with the Steelers, started the preseason opener on Aug. 12 in Arizona and on Friday night in Philadelphia.

Clark, a fifth-year pro who signed this offseason as an unrestricted free agent from Washington, started on Aug. 19 against Minnesota.

Carter worked with the first-team defense again yesterday, but he and Clark attributed that to a matter of preseason policy.

"I worked in all the sub packages," Clark said. "(Today) it will change up. This is a normal thing."

Added Carter, "We still have a rotation as far as I understand. On Mondays I always go first, and he goes (first) the next day."

Smith has yet to make a start in the preseason, but that hasn't stopped him from making his presence felt in a hurry.

He intercepted a pair of passes in Arizona, recorded a sack against Minnesota and delivered a bone-rattling hit on punt returner J.R. Reed in Philadelphia, one that necessitated the presence of three medical staffers from the Eagles sideline to attend to Reed.

"I like the way every week he does something good; you can't deny that," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said.

Still, asking Smith to start as a rookie would be asking too much.

Or would it?

Only Darren Perry (in 1992) has started at free safety as a rookie since Cowher took over in 1992, and Perry had a couple of intangibles working in his favor. One was that Thomas Everett held out. Another was that Gary Jones blew out a knee in training camp. And a third was that no one knew the defense any better than Perry because it was Cowher's first season.

These days knowing the defense matters more than interceptions, sacks and bone-rattling tackles.

"The classic example is Troy Polamalu," reserve safety Mike Logan observed. "He's one of the brightest guys that I've ever seen and he has a great football sense, and it took him a year to really get into the defense."

Polamalu, a first-team All-Pro in 2005, played only in six-defensive backs packages as a rookie in 2003.

And Polamalu was a first-round pick.

"This is one of the toughest defenses in the league to learn," Logan said. "We have a ton of defenses. If you look at our playbook, the average person couldn't just come in and get all that stuff done."

Farrior receives the defensive calls from the sideline and relays the information in the huddle. But from there the free safety takes over until the ball is snapped.

"Any adjustment, any shift, any motion, any kind of movement by the offense, the free safety will be making a call," Logan said.

Wrong calls in such instances wind up on the scoreboard, which is why Smith is more likely to replace Carter or Clark at free safety eventually than step in for Hope immediately.

"He's still making plays on the field and that speaks volumes," Logan said. "You're going to have some mental errors as a rookie, but when you can make plays and instill some confidence from the coaches in you, you'll be fine."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_468197.html
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Old 08-29-2006, 05:09 AM   #2
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Default Re: Secondary Indecision

We need this position filled now. We cannot wait to declare a starter. If Clark and Carter are not ready to be declared the starter, then lets give the kid a shot!
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: Secondary Indecision

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We need this position filled now. We cannot wait to declare a starter. If Clark and Carter are not ready to be declared the starter, then lets give the kid a shot!
Unfortunately, I agree. I was and still am pulling for Clark. While I enjoy what I have seen in Smith during the preseason, I'm just a little paranoid going into the regular season with a rookie FS at the starting position.
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Old 08-29-2006, 08:29 AM   #4
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While I enjoy what I have seen in Smith during the preseason, I'm just a little paranoid going into the regular season with a rookie FS at the starting position.
I agree, 83. If Carter and Clark can't cut it several games into the season, then and only then would I feel comfortable about Smith starting at FS. No matter how good he has played, he's still "green" and is also still learning the defense. I'm hoping Clark really steps up his play on Thursday night so a decision can be made and we can go into the regular season feeling confident instead of still looking at a question mark.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:01 PM   #5
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Default Re: Secondary Indecision

Cowher doesn't want to start a rookie at FS because that position is the "QB of the defense". OK, that makes sense. What I can't understand is why THAT position has to be the defensive QB. I'm not as knowledgable as some of you about the finer points of our defensive scheme, so could someone please explain to me why some other position can't be responsible for calling defensive adjustments? There has to be a reason, but I can't see it. I must've burned too many brain cells smoking pot in the 70's.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Secondary Indecision

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Originally Posted by LambertLunatic View Post
Cowher doesn't want to start a rookie at FS because that position is the "QB of the defense". OK, that makes sense. What I can't understand is why THAT position has to be the defensive QB. I'm not as knowledgable as some of you about the finer points of our defensive scheme, so could someone please explain to me why some other position can't be responsible for calling defensive adjustments? There has to be a reason, but I can't see it. I must've burned too many brain cells smoking pot in the 70's.
i think its cause they play the deepest and have all 21 other players on the field in front of them. they have the best vantage point to see what everyone is doing (including offensive players) and calling out the appropriate adjustments.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Secondary Indecision

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i think its cause they play the deepest and have all 21 other players on the field in front of them. they have the best vantage point to see what everyone is doing (including offensive players) and calling out the appropriate adjustments.
Exactly right Tony...(as always).....The FS has the best visual position to recognize offensive sets and make calls accordingly....
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: Secondary Indecision

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
i think its cause they play the deepest and have all 21 other players on the field in front of them. they have the best vantage point to see what everyone is doing (including offensive players) and calling out the appropriate adjustments.
I believe you are correct. He has the better overall view of what the opposing team's offense is playing/calling.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:18 PM   #9
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Default Re: Secondary Indecision

Do you think it really matters that the decision is made before Sept 7th? I dunno. Both should be preparing as if they are starting anyway because a practice injury or one against Carolina could make the decsion for Cowher.

I don't like that Clark hasn't sperated himself from Carter but he drew praise from Redskin teammates after we signed him so there has to be something there.

I think Cowher will make the call on Friday.
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