Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Could The Steelers Really Draft Two Linebackers Again In 2011?

We are just a few days away from April and a few days closer to the Steelers perhaps drafting another linebacker in the 2011 NFL draft and maybe even two. Now of course there is no guarantee that they draft one, but since Kevin Colbert became the Director of Football Operations with the Steelers in 2000, the Steelers have drafted at least one linebacker in all but two of the Steelers drafts he has overseen and four times in that span, the Steelers have drafted more than one linebacker.

A quick rewind back to last April and you will remember the Steelers actually drafted three linebackers in the form of Jason Worilds, Thaddeus Gibson and Stevenson Sylvester. All three made the Steelers opening day 53 man roster, but Gibson eventually was waived so the Steelers could sign defensive tackle Steve McLendon off of the practice squad because both Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel were both sidelined with injuries. The Steelers were hoping Gibson would clear waivers so they could sign him to the practice squad, but the 49ers quickly snatched Gibson off the waiver wire and the Steelers were out a fourth round draft pick. Worilds and Sylvester contributed heavily on special teams in 2010, but both only received very limited mop-up snaps on the defensive side of the ball late in blow-out wins.

If you look at the Steelers linebacker group heading into the offseason, the entire starting unit of James Harrison, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley will return in 2011. Woodley was hit with the franchise tag prior to the lockout and the Steelers will likely try to work out a long term deal with him when the labor situation is resolved. Although Farrior is signed through the 2012 season, 2011 could very well be the final season the 36 year old veteran has in the black and gold. Timmons is entering his final year of his rookie contract in 2011 and that will need to be addressed at some point in the near future. Harrison has shown no signs of slowing down, but has had two minor back procedures since the season has ended and that certainly has to be of some concern no matter how minor they may have been. Harrison is under contract through 2014 and if he stays healthy should be able to play out most, if not all of it.

Behind the starting group is where the questions abound. Worilds and Sylvester should be more up to speed in their sophomore seasons, so that takes cares of one outside and one inside spot. It should be noted however that most of the regular season defensive snaps that Sylvester saw in 2010, came at the outside positions. This was likely because of numbers ahead of him as Larry Foote and Keyaron Fox were the primary back-up inside linebackers in 2010 and they just wanted to get Sylvester some snaps to also test his versatility. Fox is now an unrestricted free agent and there is a good chance he will not be re-signed. Foote was brought back in 2010 after a year in Detroit and saw most of his time on defense in goal-line situations and mop-up duty. Foote is still under contract for two more seasons and will turn 31 in June. All signs point to him being back in 2011 on the 53 man roster, but the Steelers could also decide to go younger there as well.

Considering all of the above, it would appear that there is just one open spot for just one linebacker on the 2011 roster, but had the Steelers not waived Gibson, they likely would of carried nine linebackers for all of 2010. One could then argue they might want to get back to that number in 2011. In addition, young linebackers usually can contribute instantly on special teams.

On Tuesday, Colbert and Mike Tomlin were seen getting pretty cozy with Texas defensive end Sam Acho at his pro day. Defensive end you say? Acho projects as 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level and the Steelers absolutely love these types of tweeners as we have seen over the years. Acho was run through quite a bit of linebacker drills and reportedly fared well showing his ability to drop into coverage as that position in a 34 defense calls for as a skill set. Now you can't read too much into the coziness as Acho was surely not the only player the Steelers brass were there to see as defensive backs Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown were also on display and either could certainly be on the Steelers radar in the first two rounds. Acho is projected to be a late second round or early third round pick, so the Steelers would likely have to pick him in the second round unless they were to move up higher in the third. That certainly is not out of the question.

Should the Steelers spend a first or second round pick on a linebacker, it would likely cause several of Steeler Nation to jump out of their office windows, no matter what floor they are on. It is however not unthinkable though. The draft is perceived as a deep one for the cornerback and tackle position by most of the scouts and it is not out of the question the Steelers might wait until the mid rounds to address one of those two need areas. The Steelers certainly might not deem both the tackle and cornerback as such the urgent need as the fan base does and most certainly could just go the best player available route as well. Especially if they feel they have a good chance of retaining the services of free agent cornerback Ike Taylor and the yet to be determined guys like Willie Colon and William Gay. The longer the lockout goes on the better the chances it seems.

In closing, the Steelers love linebackers and they play a huge role in the success of the Steelers defense nearly every year. They also covet the tweener types it seems more than most, but as more teams shift to the 34, the greater the demand will be on these types of players. Just because the Steelers starting group is in place, does not mean that they will not continue to reload, especially with the long term status of both Woodley and Timmons up in the air come draft day. It should not surprise you if the Steelers draft one linebacker next month and as I have shown, it should not surprise you if they draft two. It's that time of year again. Linebacker drafting time.

View the Original article

Heath Miller Snubbed In ESPN Power Rankings?

Sure I am a Steelers blogger and look at stuff concerning the Steelers with my black and gold glasses on most of the time. In the latest power rankings that ESPN put out that ranks the tight ends, they have Steelers tight end Heath Miller ranked 13th overall and Miller received just 2 top 10 votes from John Clayton and ESPN North blogger James Walker. If they are basing their power rankings on the 2010 season alone, which it seems they are in the case of Miller, then the drop off in production that Miller had statistically in 2010 versus 2009 might be some what of a valid argument. In defense of Miller, he did miss 2 games and a portion of another due to a concussion he suffered against the Ravens. Miller also is an integral part of the running game and logged nearly 850 regular season snaps on offense despite the two games he missed. Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who finished 7th in the power rankings, did not even log 700 offensive snaps and Packers tight end Jermichael Finley logged just 212 snaps before being lost for the season. Seems to be some bias here or at the very least inconsistent reasoning.

Although his numbers were down in 2010 versus 2009, Miller rates as perhaps one of the leagues most reliable tight ends since he was drafted in 2005. Over the course of 6 seasons, Miller has been targeted 396 times during the regular season and has caught 284 of the balls thrown his way for a 72% catch percentage. That percentage is tops in the league for that span when compared to other tight ends that have been targeted 200 times or more over that span of 6 seasons. Also during that time span Miller has averaged 8.1 yards per target. Once again if you compare that to other tight ends that have been targeted 200 times or more since his rookie season, Miller ranks 3rd, just barely behind Cowboys tight end Jason Witten in that stat. During his 6 years in the league, Miller has started 90 of 96 regular season games and has been part of 3 teams that have gone to the Super Bowl and news flash, the Steelers won two of them.

As Walker points out in his blog post, Miller remains underrated as far as top tight ends in the league go. Miller is a model of consistency, a model teammate and a model tight end in the Steelers system. This is just another example of how little these power rankings mean and how you often times need to look at the entire body of work a player brings to the table as well as his consistency. One and two year wonders will always be around. I by no means think that Miller should be ranked overall number one on this list, but to to not have him in the top 10 in the NFL is foolish. I am glad he is on my side. I will never underrate him.

View the Original article

Utah State CB Curtis Marsh To Make Pre Draft Visit To Steelers

Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh reportedly will make a pre-draft visit to Pittsburgh to visit the Steelers some time next week according to Draft Countdown. Marsh measured in at 6 and a half feet at the NFL combine and ran an unofficial 4.46 40 time. Marsh reportedly also has visits scheduled with the Eagles and Dolphins as well. Marsh played just two seasons at corner for the Aggies after he switched from running back to cornerback during spring of 2009. In 2010 he started all 12 games at cornerback and earned second-team all-WAC honors. He ranked second in the WAC and sixth in FBS in passes defended with 15 including 2 interceptions. Marsh also recorded 45 total tackles in 2010 as well.

View the Original article

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Steelers May Workout Bridgewater WR Tyler Beiler

WHSV Sports Director Damon Dillman, reported via Twitter that Bridgewater wide receiver Tyler Beiler says he has been contacted by by both the Steelers and the Broncos about a possible workout next week. Beiler worked out for a pro scout from the Eagles on Monday morning at Jopson Field and you can watch the video below. Bridgewater is an NCAA Division III school located in Bridgewater, Virginia. I would not read too much into this until it happens and it may only being a scout in the neighborhood going and working him out. I doubt the Steelers would use 1 of their 30 pre-draft visits on a small school wide receiver. We shall see.

Incoming search terms for the article:Tyler beiler

View the Original article

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Steelers to Visit with Baylor nose guard Phil Taylor

Massive Baylor nose guard Phil Taylor has eight upcoming official visits, including the Jets, Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.

Taylor conducted three private workouts this week with the Browns, Chiefs and an undisclosed AFC playoff team. Taylor is regarded as a rising prospect on draft boards, especially after the Senior Bowl where he shoved around blockers. Taylor is a big, strong anchor at 6-foot-3, 334 pounds. At the scouting combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 5.09 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 31 times.

View the Original article

Friday, 25 March 2011

Steelers to Talk with Texas Cornerback Curtis Brown

The Steelers will chat with another CB – this time it’s Texas corner Curtis Brown, who also will talk with half the league according to the National Football Post.

University of Texas cornerback Curtis Brown is in heavy demand with several upcoming visits and workouts, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation. That includes the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns.

Brown ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and registed a 10-8 broad jump and a 38-inch vertical leap. He’s regarded as a good fit for man or zone coverage schemes. He was named second-team all-conference last season, recording 26 tackles, one for a loss, an interception and six pass deflections.

View the Original article

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sources: Steelers To Bring In UTC Cornerback Buster Skrine For Pre Draft Visit

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga cornerback Buster Skrine is expected to make a pre-draft visit to Pittsburgh to visit with the Steelers prior to the NFL draft according to The National Football Post. Skrine conducted a private workout for the Ravens today, just one day after his Wednesday Pro Day work-out. In addition to the Steelers, Skrine also has visits scheduled with the Patriots, Browns and the Bengals. So far the Steelers have only had the draft eligible local Pittsburgh players over to the South Side for a visit and visits are expected to pick up starting next week. Skrine is a bit undersized at 5 foot 9 and a half, but had an excellent showing at the 2011 NFL Combine. Skrine is currently projected as a mid-round draft pick. You can watch the highlight video of him below.

View the Original article

Madden 12 Cover Could Be Hines Ward

It's March Madden time. No, not that March Madness , March Madden. Like the video game Madden 12. Steeler Nation can vote online for Hines Ward to grace the cover of Madden 12. EA Sports along with ESPN SportsNation is having a bracket like contest that pits two players against each other, or in the case of the Seahawks, the 12th man. I find that kind of weird. First up for Hines Ward is the Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Hines is the number 2 seed on his side of the bracket while Dunlap is the 15th. Should Hines advance in round 1, it seems he will face the winner between The 12th Man and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. Looks like an interesting contest nonetheless and Hines certainly is not short on attention as of late with his debut Monday night on Dancing with the Stars. I would say Ward has a good chance of making it to the Final Four in this Madden cover contest, but it is up to the fans to make it happen. ESPN SportsNation host Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle will have interviews with the contestants as the contest progresses, so be on the look-out for that. Voting ends for round one on March 27th.

View the Original article

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Batch Could Lose Super Bowl Rings Due To Bankruptcy

A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that Steelers QB Charlie Batch could lose his two Super Bowl rings as part of a bankruptcy filing. Batch listed the Rings — won as a member of the Steelers in Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII — as part of his assets after filing for bankruptcy last year. His creditors won’t necessarily take the merchandise from him, and Batch said in court documents (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) that he intends to repay his debts. Batch, a member of the NFLPA’s executive committee, hasn’t commented on the judge’s ruling.

View the Original article

New Scoring Replay Rule Would Not Have Helped The Steelers


On Tuesday the NFL teams voted on the various rule changes submitted by the competition committee. One of the rules that passed was that now all scoring plays will be subject to confirmation by the replay booth, just like every play currently is within two minutes of the end of each half. Meaning it will be another booth challenge. This presents the question of how it may or may not have helped the Steelers in 2010 against the Saints this past season. Perhaps one of the most memorable plays that this new rule might not have helped the Steelers on in 2010 was a second-down play from the 2 early in the second quarter against the Saints. The officials ruled that running back Rashard Mendenhall didn't break the plane of the goal line before he was brought down. The NBC video replays appeared to show the ball touching the goal line before Mendenhall was tackled, but Tomlin never challenge the call of the field. Evidently the Steelers assistant coaches in the press box couldn't see the same replays that were being shown on the NBC feed, because the televisions in the Steelers booth apparently were tuned to the Superdome's scoreboard feed, which failed to show the NBC replays. Tomlin went on to say, "There wasn't a bunch of video evidence available to us." Tomlin also noted that Mendenhall never gave a sign from the field that he may have possibly scored and that Tomlin should challenge.

Let me again clarify now as I have re-written this post after getting a further understanding of the rule. that this rule denotes scoring plays ruled on the field evidently. So in this case it seems the Steelers would have had to still challenge that play. Why not include those calls that are close that the officials might get wrong as well? Where do you draw the line on scoring plays? Now it is of course foolish to say the Steelers lost the game because of that one play, but the new rule, as I understand it would not cover that because it was not ruled a touchdown on the field.

ETA: The NFL's former Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira clarifies this in a post here. So indeed, this new rule would not have helped the Steelers against the Saints.

I am not OK with the fact that this only applies to a ruling of a score and not if a runner is ruled down short of the goal line or if a field goal is ruled no good. The rationale for this is when a score is ruled, the clock stops and there is no action until the try or the kickoff.

There are a couple of things that I don’t like about this, and overall I think this proposed rule change will extend the length of the game.

I don’t like the fact that the only time the replay assistant will get involved outside of two minutes is if a score is ruled.

What if a runner is ruled down short of the goal line with three minutes to go in the game and the coach is out of challenges or timeouts? Sorry. No review, even if video shows conclusively that the ball had broken the plane. If the official had ruled touchdown, the replay assistant could initiate a review, but since the official ruled the runner short, nothing can be done.

In addition to all of the above, I have listed below in table format the regular season challenges from the 2010 season along with plays overturned and the success rate just to serve as a FYI. In the last table I listed the type play reviewed. During the regular season Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin challenged 5 plays, 2 of which were overturned. Not that big of deal. The worst part of this new rule will be perhaps the added breaks in between calls that are close on touchdowns. I guess they consider it a kickback to the networks to enable them to show more commercials.

View the Original article

A Look At The Unsettled Roster Spots On The Steelers 53 Man Roster

Now that things have died down a bit before the draft, I figured it was a good time to look at the potential roster spots on the 53 man roster that one could consider as being unsettled at this point late in March. Several of these spots will close up quickly as soon as we know how the true status of the players that are unrestricted that might be deemed restricted. Also undetermined at this time is the future of free agent Ike Taylor and veteran Flozell Adams as well. Will there be 21 actually roster spot up for grabs? Highly unlikely. In fact when the dust settles I suspect it will be easy to trim it down to about only 11 or 12 and we will re-visit this again after the draft. Consider this your pre-draft, pre-free agency look at the roster.

This list is to serve as a birds-eye view late in March only. There are certainly a few that might be considered a stretch on this list, but If I thought a spot was not a 100% sure slam dunk, I listed it. Enjoy!

Punter - Jeremy Kapinos ended the season as the Steelers punter after Daniel Sepulveda was placed on injured reserve with yet another torn ACL. Kapinos is still under contract while Sepulveda is currently slated to be an unrestricted free agent. Because of the labor uncertainty the Steelers tendered Sepulveda just in case he is deemed restricted. Mike Tomlin has said Kapinos did a nice job for the Steelers after being signed and said he is comfortable with the progress of Sepulveda as well. Tomlin said the team has options there and also did not rule out drafting a punter in April. Put all of this together and it certainly looks like the punter position is up in the air on the 53 man roster.

Kicker - Shaun Suisham was brought in when Jeff Reed was released in the mid part of the 2010 season. Suisham was fairly reliable and the new kick-off rule will help hide is inability to kick the ball deep with regularity into the endzone on kickoffs. Suisham is an unrestricted free agent right now and the Steelers signed kicker Swayze Waters to the offseason roster as a camp body. There is no guarantee that either of these two will be on the 53 man roster come the start of the 2011 season, so this position is certainly regarded as open on the roster until we get more clarity.

Long Snapper - Veteran long snapper Greg Warren has been a Steelers specialist for years, but he too is currently an unrestricted free agent. The Steelers brought in long snapper Matt Stewart for a brief look last training camp and Warren also has a knee injury history along with a salary that increases yearly. It is not out of the question that another team might have interest in him should we ever have a free agency signing period. For now, it seems the roster spot is unsettled, but I would not rule out Warren returning either.

Tackle - As we sit here in late March, I am going to lump Flozell Adams and Willie Colon together as one roster spot. The reason behind this is because Colon spent the entire 2010 season on injured reserve and Adams was signed to take his place on the 53 man roster. Colon is of course scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, but the Steelers tendered him just in case the rules of 2010 are once again used and he is deemed restricted. Adams has not yet said whether he wants to return for his final season under contract in which he is scheduled to earn 5 million in 2011. I think he will decide to play, but the Steelers might also ask him to redo his contract as well. Both could very possibly be back or both could be gone just the same. If Colon is brought back, Tomlin has said he could be an option to kick inside to guard as well. I merely lumped these two together because one replaced the other on the 53 man roster prior to the start of the season. Heading into the draft, I will leave this spot as being unsettled for accounting purposes.

Swing Tackle - Tony Hills was tendered as a restricted free agent this offseason and will be back in camp. Jonathan Scott is an unrestricted free agent and could be re-signed as well to compete for a roster spot. Hills is a real long shot to make the roster regardless and until Scott is re-signed, you have to consider this spot up for grabs. In addition, the Steelers are very likely to draft a tackle in the first few rounds of the April draft.

Offensive Line - Trai Essex played guard and tackle in 2010 and rookie Chris Scott never got out of street clothes after missing all of camp and the pre-season. With Essex being an unrestricted free agent and Scott's role yet to be determined, you have to consider this a depth spot on the offensive line as being unsettled. I doubt they give up on Scott just yet, but being as he was a later round draft pick, he should not be considered a lock for a roster spot just yet.

Backup Running Back - This is the spot currently held by Mewelde Moore. Moore is an unrestricted free agent and as we sit here in late March, there is no guarantee he will be back. The Steelers carried four running backs on the 53 man roster last year and there is no reason to believe they will not carry four again in 2011. If he is re-signed, you can easily scratch this off.

Backup Running Back - This spot is currently held by Jonathan Dwyer. It will anger Steeler Nation quite a bit with me having him on here, but I promise it is not because of how he runs with the football. The reason is because of his play without the football. He has not shown yet he can be counted on in blitz pickup and recognition. The Steelers did think enough of him though to keep him on the 53 man roster all of last season, so he likely will turn the corner in those areas. Until I see it though, I do not consider his roster spot a lock. This may be a stretch, but the tape does not lie in his case. Throw your tomatoes if you deem necessary.

Wide Receiver - I will designate this spot as currently being held by Antwaan Randle El. El is still under contract and his chances look good at returning in 2011. I do not feel comfortable claiming that he has a lock though on a roster spot just yet. The Steelers still have Limas Sweed, who was on injured reserve last year and they still apparently have not given up on him. While not likely, the Steelers could still use a late round draft pick on a receiver as well. For now I will consider the El roster spot up for grabs, barely.

Backup Tight End - Matt Spaeth is another free agent that is scheduled to be unrestricted, but has been tendered just in case he is ruled restricted. Even if Spaeth ends up coming back on a one year tender, it is not out of the question that the Steelers could have him compete with a rookie draft pick or free agent. Right now you have to say that this roster spot is up for grabs.

Backup Defensive End - Nick Eason held this roster spot in 2010, but he too is an unrestricted free agent that I do not see being brought back in 2011. If he is re-signed and invited to camp, he will most certainly have plenty younger competition to beat out.

Backup Nose Tackle - Chris Hoke too is an unrestricted free agent and there is no guarantee that he will be back in 2011. Until he is re-signed, we have to leave this spot open.

Defensive Lineman - You could also deem the spot that was held by Steve McLendon as a wildcard spot. For now I have listed it as a defensive lineman roster spot, but it could just as easy go to an extra offensive lineman as well. Regardless though, he was on the 53 man roster last year and I doubt he makes it back there in 2011. Label this spot what you will.

Backup Inside Linebacker - Right now we will say this is the spot currently held by Larry Foote. He played just under 180 snaps on defense in 2010 and contributed heavily on special teams. He is still under contract and while it seems very likely he will be back, I do not consider him a slam dunk right now to make the final 53 man squad. Another bit of a stretch perhaps, but I call them like I see them.

Linebacker - Keyaron Fox is an unrestricted free agent and likely gone for good. He was also responsible for 7 penalties on special teams last year and that will not help his cause of getting re-signed. If he is some how is brought back, there will be no guarantee he makes the roster.

Cornerback - This spot is currently held by Ike Taylor of course. Taylor is an unrestricted free agent and if he is re-signed then of course this open roster spot will slam shut. Until then, I shall consider it an open spot on the 53 man roster.

Cornerback - This is the William Gay roster spot. Gay is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, but has also been tendered just in case the 2010 rules are used again and he is deemed restricted. Until he is confirmed as coming back, we will leave this spot on the roster as up in the air.

Backup Strong Safety - Ryan Mundy filled in for Troy Polamalu in 2010 at strong safety when Polamalu was out with his injury. The Steelers are always looking to upgrade the roster so in no way should that position on the roster be considered a locked up one.

Backup Free Safety - Will Allen was brought in via free agency last offseason, but mostly for his special teams play. Allen played just under 40 snaps on defense in 2010 with most of them coming in blow-outs. The Steelers could easily cut bait with him and eat the remaining signing bonus owed to him.

Defensive Back/Special Teams - Anthony Madison has to fight for his spot every year. His roster spot is certainly up in the air as his special teams play is his best quality, not playing in the secondary.

Special Teams Spot - This is the spot I will put Arnaz Battle in. Battle saw only 8 snaps on offense in 2010, but was used quite extensively on kick coverage units. Despite being signed to a 3 year deal last offseason, there is no certainty he will be back in 2011. Although listed as a wide receiver, the Battle spot would most likely be used on another defensive back that plays special teams should he not make the team.

View the Original article

Monday, 21 March 2011

Steelers 2011 Free Agents Player Analysis: Willie Colon

2010 Salary Estimation: $2,521,000 Base - $2,521,000 Cap Charge

Analysis: We continue on with our breakdown player by player of each of the Steelers 2011 free agents and up next up for analysis is tackle Willie Colon. If you are looking for a player that was hit hard by the labor situation this past offseason, you certainly need not look much further past Colon. Because no new collective bargaining agreement was agreed upon by March of 2010, Colon lost out on becoming an unrestricted free agent as he did not have enough years accrued to meet the requirements set forth in the rules of the 2010 uncapped season. Instead, Colon was deemed a restricted free agent and the Steelers tendered him at a first round level. The first round tender meant that if any team had tried to sign Colon away via free agency, the Steelers had the option of matching the contract offered or receive that teams first round 2010 draft pick as compensation. Subsequently no teams made a play for Colon and he signed his one year tender to play for the Steelers in 2010. At that time he was slated to be the Steelers starting right tackle. More bad luck was on the way still for Colon as he suffered a torn Achilles in late June while doing agility drills. The injury cost Colon the entire 2010 season before it even started and he was placed on injured reserve. The Steelers went on to sign veteran free agent Flozell Adams to replace Colon at right tackle. Colon stayed around the team during his rehab and contributed as much as he could from the sidelines.

Colon was hoping to build on his 2008 and 2009 seasons in which he was regarded as the Steelers top lineman according to Pro Football Focus. His downfalls in both of those seasons though were the number of times he was penalized. In 2008 alone, Colon was flagged 13 times: 6 times for false starts, 5 times for holding and another 2 flags for lining up in an illegal formation. In 2009 he was flagged 7 times, 4 of which were for holding and the other 3 being for false starts. Over the course of 2008 and 2009 Colon also was Mr. Reliable as he only missed a handful of plays in that 32 regular season game stretch.

Future: With the uncertainty still surrounding the NFL labor situation, the Steelers have once again placed a first round tender on Colon, should the years accrued needed to be an unrestricted free agent remain at 6. The tender is expected to carry a price tag of around 2.773 should that come to fruition. Colon would once again miss out on free agency if that were to be the case. Should Colon wind up being unrestricted, you have to wonder how many teams would be willing to throw big money at a guy coming off of a torn Achilles. Leading up to the tender, there had been no contract talks between the Steelers and Colon's agent Joe Linta according to reports. The Steelers also still have Adams under contract, although he has not said whether or not he will return in 2011 for his final year under contract or retire. The Steelers are also expected to draft a tackle in the early part of the 2011 draft, further adding to the confusion. It seems right now that the Steelers are willing to let Colon walk via free agency should he end up being unrestricted or at the very least, let him test the waters. If he ends up restricted, he will undoubtedly sign his tender and it will then be up to the Steelers to see where he fits on the line in 2011. There is some speculation that Colon might be asked to move inside to right guard should that be the case, especially if Adams decides to return. Adams is however scheduled to earn 5 million in 2011 and could be asked to take a pay cut should he decide he wants to play one more season. If Adams were to refuse, the Steelers might be better served to try to re-sign Colon to perhaps a two or three year deal, assuming he looks to be recovered from his injury and release Adams. Personally I think Colon has a few more seasons left in him and after going back and forth with this since the season has ended, I think it is in the Steelers best interest to try to keep him. It very well may come down to how his free agent status plays out though and the longer the lockout last, the better chance he has at being back in black and gold for at least one more season. Colon certainly would be a bargain at nearly 2.8 million should he end up up restricted once again. It will be a while before this situation plays itself out it seems.

Other 2011 Steelers Free Agents Analysis

Matt Spaeth
Shaun Suisham
Trai Essex
Mewelde Moore
Doug Legursky
Greg Warren
Dennis Dixon
Tony Hills
Chris Hoke
Ryan Mundy
Anthony Madison
Keyaron Fox
Nick Eason
Jonathan Scott
Daniel Sepulveda

View the Original article

Harrison Speaks His Mind on the Lockout Via Facebook; Posts Video as Well

James Harrison has recently been communicating with his fans on his Facebook Fan Page, including sharing his thoughts and listening to the fans thoughts on the lockout.

When he posted the NFLPA’s response letter to Commissioner Goodell’s letter on his Facebook yesterday, he noticed some profanity and fans comments directing angst towards him and the players in general.  He decided to write a letter to the fans from HIS perspective, which can be seen here:  James Harrison Letter to Fans

Despite most of his fans outpouring their love and support to the letter and just for simply communicating and being real with them, there were of course a few who viewed James’ letter as a PR stunt and not actually coming from him.  He responded to that by posting a video to fans showing that it’s actually him, and expressing his thoughts on the lockout.  The video can be seen here:  James Harrison Video to Fans

View the Original article

Steelers 1st Round Targets That Could Still Be On The Draft Board At 31

Over the last few weeks a few readers have asked me if I could put together a realistic list of players the Steelers most likely will have a shot at drafting should they stay at the #31 spot where they are currently slated to pick. As the players with first round grades are starting to settle in following their combine performances and the early pro days, it is easier now to get a better picture of the first round. I will do later rounds as we go, but there is so much movement going on still with the mid round guys it would be ludicrous to project past round one for at least a little while longer. It is too easy to list guys here like Mike Pouncey and Nate Solder as it is pretty obvious in my opinion that if either of those two guys were to somehow drop to 31, the Steelers would snap them up. I just can't see those guys falling. What this post is trying to do is provide a realistic narrowing down of players, who at this point of March, look to have a chance at being on the board when the Steelers pick at 31. These players also fit the biggest overall needs the Steelers have as well. These are in no order

T Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin) - Carimi is still passing all the sniff test that he can play left tackle in the NFL. Currently he is my 4th rated tackle and could be selected from pick 20 on. He still has a legitimate chance of sliding to 31 still in my opinion.


DE Cameron Heyward (Ohio State) - A few days away from his private work-out still, but Heyward could be the best 3-4 five technique defensive end in the draft. If he is not selected by the Chargers at 18, he will likely slip all the way down to the bottom of round 1.

View the Original article

Sources: Texas CB Curtis Brown To Visit With Steelers

Adam Caplan of Fox Sports reports this morning that University of Texas cornerback Curtis Brown is expected to have a pre draft visit with the Steelers within the next two weeks. Brown is regarded as a top 10 cornerback in this years draft class and projected currently as a second round draft pick. He is a physical corner with great leaping ability and good hands. Scouts say he can fit both man-to-man and zone schemed defenses.

View the Original article

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Steelers Asking For Season Ticket Money Like Normal

The Tribune Review reports that the Steelers are expecting their money like normal for season tickets for the 2011 season.

The Steelers expect fans to make season-ticket payments for the 2011 season, even though it could be wiped out by the NFL lockout. In a letter to season-ticket holders, team president Art Rooney II said “payments are due, consistent with past practices.” ticket payments are due in full by May 2. “If games are lost to a work stoppage, we will provide refunds for any games cancelled,” Rooney said in the letter. The Steelers, coming off a loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV, did not raise ticket prices for 2011. The team also did not raise prices after playing in Super Bowls XL and XLIII.

View the Original article

Friday, 18 March 2011

Ryan Clark Sounds Off On Owners and the NFL

Adrian Peterson had some very harsh words about NFL owners on Tuesday, but Ryan Clark may have done him one better. The Steelers safety (and respected player rep) recently spoke with KDKA-FM. In the interview, Clark took a shot at hereditary owners, including his own.

View the Original article

Steelers 2011 Pre Draft Visits


The Steelers have now started to bring 2011 draft prospects in for pre draft visits as of today. NFL teams are allowed to host 30 non local prospects prior to the draft. Below is a running list of players we have confirmed have been scheduled for visits as of today. We will use this as our official Steelers pre draft visit list much like we did last season with the Steelers 2010 pre draft visits and will update this list as the visits happen or more are announced. Make sure to book mark this page. First up today were the local Pitt players who do not count against the list of 30.

Pittsburgh WR Jon Baldwin 3/16/11
Pittsburgh DE Jabaal Sheard 3/16/11
Pittsburgh DE Greg Romeus 3/16/11
Pittsburgh FB Henry Hynoski 3/16/11
Pittsburgh RB Dion Lewis 3/16/11
Pittsburgh T Jason Pinkston 3/16/11
Pittsburgh S Dom DiCicco 3/16/11

View the Original article

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Madden 2011 Ben Roethlisberger Clip Released

It seems the Madden people are not scared by the recent NFL lockout as they are starting to release footage captures of players from Madden 11. The first Steelers player clip that has surfaced is of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. All I can say is wow! These games have come along way from Tecmo Bowl and Atari football. Watch the clip below via ESPN. Not sure why these are just now being pushed out as I was informed that Madden 12 is the next version out. As you can see, I have not played Madden in a LONG time. Enjoy the clip anyways.

View the Original article

Cal Senior DE Cameron Jordan to Talk with the Steelers

The Steelers will have a pre-draft visit with California defensive end Cameron Jordan. The senior will visit not only the Steelers, but Buffalo and Tampa Bay, as well, according to Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post. Jordan has already sat down with the Lions.

Last season with Cal he had 34 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks, he also was dominant at the 2011 Senior Bowl, though he did not play on Chan Gailey’s South squad. Jordan measured in at 6′4″ and 287 pounds at the Combine, with gigantic arms (35″) and hands (11.1″) – perfect for a 3-4 defensive end. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds.

View the Original article

Steelers with Interest in Hampton DL Kenrick Ellis

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports Hampton defensive lineman Kenrick Ellis is drawing serious interest from several NFL teams, including the Steelers, Eagles, Broncos, and the Packers, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.

The 6-foot-5, 346-pounder has drawn second-round grades from several draft analysts.

Per a source, Ellis interviewed well at the NFL scouting combine and was accountable for past transgressions that got him dismissed from South Carolina (reportedly failed drug tests) before transferring to Hampton and being suspended for one game.

“We like the kid,” an NFL source said. “We were impressed with him.”

Ellis addressed the off-field problems at the NFL scouting combine during an interview with a crowd of media.

“I had character issues,” he acknowledged. “I had disciplinary problems. They did everything they could. It just didn’t work out for me. I had to get out of there.

“I had to look within myself and change a lot of things within myself and around me. And after I changed those things, it was pretty much easy after that. I had to realize that I had a problem, and I confronted it and overcame it.”

View the Original article

Reliving Some of the Memorable Moments of the 2010 Steelers

Posted in Features

Monday over on our Facebook Page (which if you haven’t joined you can do so by clicking HERE), we asked what your favorite moment was of the 2010 season. Many of you couldn’t resist the beating of the Ravens in the postseason, along with some other great moments.

Here’s a little look at the favorite moments of the 2010 season.

View the Original article

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Best Player Available Likely To Be Steelers Draft Plan In 1st Round Of 2011 Draft

The days of March are clicking off the calendar and there are only 44 days now until draft day. The Pro Days are also winding down and the Steelers will soon be entertaining draft prospect visitors down at the South Side later this month and into April. In my recent post about 1st round tackles drafted from 1995-2010 I showed how just because you might need a tackle while drafting late in the first round, it might very well not be the best course of action. David Todd and I even elaborated more on this in the latest episode of the Terrible Podcast.

Without a doubt, we can pretty well safely assume the Steelers will at least spend a pick on both on an offensive lineman and a corner somewhere in the upcoming draft, but to lock them into definitely drafting either position in the 1st round is pretty foolish. When you pick late in drafts, you have to let the draft come to you. The Steelers are notorious for neglecting a perceived need by us, the fans, and we have often seen instances where it appears they have taken what they considered the best player on the board as it relates to scheme and overall need. Let's look at the 2009 draft for example. The Ziggy Hood pick surprised a big majority of Steeler Nation, me included. Now we knew a quarterback, running back and tight end would not likely be their number one pick and you could possibly even throw in the linebacking position as well when you look at the state of the team at that time. Most of Steeler Nation was clamoring for an offensive lineman and cornerback in the first round of that draft. What a surprise. They did however draft two linemen and two corners in that draft.

Was defensive end a need in that draft? Somewhat, sure. The Steelers certainly needed some depth at the position behind Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. When you look back at that draft board and who was selected, Hood was the 2nd true defensive end off the board after Tyson Jackson was picked 3rd overall by the Chiefs. Now some might argue about Aaron Maybin, Brian Orakpo and Robert Ayers, but these players were all transformed into outside linebacker types by the teams that drafted them. Peria Jerry was projected 3-technique guy as well. Hood by most accounts was primed for being a 5-technique guy and a perfect fit for the Steelers 3-4 defense. Considering the defensive scheme and the somewhat need the Steelers had, Hood was easily the best player available on the board for the Steelers with that pick.

Too often as fans we get caught up looking at what we deem are the biggest needs for the team and instantly try to correlate that with the mock drafts and player rankings. Too many times we overlook the big picture as well of what player fits what scheme. This is done quite a bit with defensive players more than offensive players, but offensive line blocking schemes and types of offenses certainly play a role as well in matching best fits.

Let's go back to just last year. The Steelers probably had a little easier time in narrowing down there first round big board as they were picking 18th overall. Guess who the first center/guard type that was that drafted in 2010. Yep, Maurkice Pouncey. Now the Steelers had likely envisioned him as a guard first with the idea of eventually moving him to center. We all know how that ended up. They got a guy who could play both positions and play them well. Can you say best player off the board that also met a need? Jackpot. Would the Steelers had the success they had in 2010 with Justin Hartwig playing center? Probably not and you probably agree.

As I eluded to in my underclassman cornerbacks post, that is a mighty risky thing to do based off history. I'll admit that Brandon Harris sure looks impressive in not only his combine work, but also his play on the field with Miami. He might even climb further up the draft board come April. If you look at the top 5 tackles and cornerbacks this year with perceived first round grades, the top 3 if not 4 might very well be off the board by the time the Steelers pick if they do not trade up. Would the Steelers draft the 5th best tackle or 5th best cornerback on the board if that were the case? Are the Steelers tackle and cornerback positions such a dire need that you just take the best of the rest in round 1? I think the answer is no. It is also highly unlikely that a first round tackle or corner could come in and contribute instantly even if that were the case. Especially the corner position in a Dick LeBeau defense.

Now just because best player available is the talk here does not mean that the Steelers should draft running back Mikel LeShoure, who could still be on the board when the Steelers pick. He also is considered the 2nd rated running back in this years draft. It also does not mean that they should draft Jake Locker should he fall. There is a place where BPA (best player available) meets a team need, especially when a first round pick is concerned. I expect the Steelers to once again to use that strategy unless they trade up. No reason to think otherwise.

So what position would BPA meet some need with the Steelers at 31? Guard perhaps? Although old for a rookie, Danny Watkins could likely be had there at 31. By many accounts he is the 2nd best interior lineman in the draft. He could likely even contribute in his rookie season at right guard at some point. What about linebacker Martez Wilson? His skill set is pretty amazing and he could cut his teeth on special teams early on. There is a chance he could be on the board at 31 as well. Those are just two off the cuff examples.

As you move forward now with your draft expectations, I think you will see that the Steelers certainly could disappoint those that have tackle and corner as an automatic position the Steelers will draft in the 1st round. Put you Kevin Colbert hat on for a few days and measure the other team needs against best player available method along with the skill set of the players in relation to the Steelers offensive and defensive schemes. You will likely see the bigger picture and method of the Steelers draft madness as it relates to the best player available and overall team need.

View the Original article

Steelers 2011 Free Agents Player Analysis: Matt Spaeth

Tight End Matt Spaeth - Steelers 2011 Free Agent
Free Agent Classification: UFA (unrestricted free agent)
2010 Salary Estimation: $1,101,000 Base - $1,101,000 Cap Charge
Analysis: We continue on with our breakdown player by player of each of the Steelers 18 free agents and up next up for analysis is tight end Matt Spaeth. Spaeth was a restricted free agent last offseason and the Steelers brought him back in 2010 on a one year tender of slightly more than a million dollars. Spaeth is primarily used as a blocking tight end in the Steelers two tight end sets and occasionally gets a target in the passing game. Make no mistake though, Spaeth is no threat to starter Heath Miller in the passing game. In 2010 Spaeth got off to a rough start against the Falcons and Titans, but got more consistent in his blocking as the season progressed. Spaeth was targeted just 18 times during the regular season and caught just 9 balls. He likely will be most remembered for final two offensive plays against the Jets in week 15. Spaeth had an opportunity to win the game for the Steelers, but could not come up with either pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. On the first of the two, Spaeth appeared to cut in front of intended receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the back of the end zone and the pass went through his hands. He bobbled the second pass in the left corner of the endzone on the games final play. Spaeth had started in place of the injured Miller in that game and did have a touchdown catch earlier in that contest to his credit. Spaeth also played on special teams in 2010 and had just one tackle and was also used on the kickoff return team in addition as an up-man.
Including the playoffs, Spaeth logged nearly 550 snaps on offense in 2010. He missed two games due to a concussion he received in the Raiders game and David Johnson received his share of the work in both of those games he was out. The Steelers won both in his absence. As far as his pass blocking goes, I had Spaeth responsible for 2 quarterback hits and 5 pressures allowed on the season.
Future: Spaeth is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason as he now has 4 years accrued under his belt. Because of the uncertainty with the labor situation and CBA, the Steelers placed a low grade tender of around 1.275 million on him in case the free agency rules of the 2010 season are used once again. If that happens, Spaeth would then be considered a restricted free agent and almost certainly would not receive a contract offer from another team that the Steelers would have the choice of matching or getting that teams 2011 3rd round draft pick in exchange. Even if Spaeth is deemed unrestricted, as scheduled, it is hard to see other teams lining up and fighting for his services. The Steelers very well could address the tight end position in the April draft either way, so if Spaeth does some how end up back in training camp with the Steelers, he almost certainly will have competition for a roster spot. It is evident by the tender placed on him, that the Steelers at least think enough of him to give him an opportunity to win a roster spot. However he should not be considered a lock to make the final 53 man roster at this point.
Other 2011 Steelers Free Agents Analysis
Shaun Suisham
Trai Essex
Mewelde Moore
Doug Legursky
Greg Warren
Dennis Dixon
Tony Hills
Chris Hoke
Ryan Mundy
Anthony Madison
Keyaron Fox
Nick Eason
Jonathan Scott
Daniel Sepulveda

View the Original article

2011 Steelers Gab NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report – OT Tyron Smith

By Abe Munch
Tyron Smith, OT, USC, 6’5 280
Position Ranking: #1
Strengths: Smith shows exceptional athleticism for an offensive tackle. He’s well-built and muscular with an even distribution of size throughout; doesn’t carry much body fat and has the frame to easily add 25 pounds or better. Very good functional strength and is able to control larger defenders once he latches on in both run support and pass protection. Extends arms quickly at the snap with heavy hands to jolt defender. Highly effective on angle and hook blocks, consistently driving opponent down the line; good lateral bend and quickness. Shows a nice burst to get to the second level with the hip flexibility to adjust to moving targets. Extremely effective on outside pulls, gets to the perimeter quickly and neutralizes the defender to clear an outside running lane; shows better straight line speed than some tight ends and can be dominant in space. Has the strength to control defenders and drive open a running lane with hands underneath defenders extended arms. Manhandles linebackers in space.
Plays with a consistently wide base in pass protection and creates a wall when he wins the snap against an outside release; shows a good hop step and wingspan. Has the hips, arm length, and natural athleticism to recover effectively even when he loses outside leverage. Handles an inside bull rush very well, dropping down to anchor and holding his base. Plays with a mean streak and finishes every play. Well conditioned, looks the same through four quarters.
Needs Improvement: Footwork is still raw; doesn’t have a natural kick slide. Tends to get flat footed and will trot instead of sliding to recover or mirror. Gets in the habit of overextending and relying on his upper body strength; needs to be more patient and wait on defender in pass protection. Doesn’t have much experience at left tackle, played almost exclusively at right tackle. Size will need to improve to maintain his overall effectiveness at the next level.

View the Original article