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Monday, August 27, 2007

What I saw, Philadelphia

If Mike Tomlin is only going to keep one fullback on this roster, his decision is going to be difficult.

Both Dan Kreider and Carey Davis played well Sunday night, blocking with reckless abandon.

Davis was whistled for a holding penalty early in the game, but it certainly didn't look like a hold to me.

© Ben Roethlisberger will make a couple of plays per game that will make you look on and wonder how he did that.

Unfortunately, he'll also make a couple each game where you asked yourself why he did that as well.

His first quarter interception was one of the why plays.

A lot of times, those kind of passes fall harmlessly to the ground. But when they don't, they can lead to disaster.

He's got to limit those type of plays if he wants to take the next step to greatness.

© Tomlin's decision about the right side of his offensive line isn't going to be an easy one.

The starting right side of Kendall Simmons and Willie Colon looked OK pass blocking, but blah run blocking.

The second unit of Chris Kemoeatu and Max Starks looked OK run blocking and blah pass blocking.

It's not a decision I'd want to make at this point, but my guess is that Colon and Simmons open the season as the starters.

© Lawrence Timmons looked good running down to cover a punt late in the fourth quarter and he was certainly flying around the field, but it's obvious the Steelers' No. 1 draft pick has missed too much time to contribute much defensively this season.

He was out of position on more than one occasion in the fourth quarter, leading to some big plays.

© How does Chukky Okobi feel about losing the center job to Sean Mahan? Okobi was moping so much before Sunday night's game that he did not shake hands with any of the team's defensive starters when they were announced before the game, instead standing there with a long face.

Mahan, meanwhile, looks pretty limited at center. That could be a problem position for this team.

© At what point did the Steelers switch Ricardo Colclough's number to 15 and what number is Willie Reid now wearing.

If Reid isn't the punt returner on this team, he could be on the bubble to make this roster. And he's done nothing to prove that he deserves that job.

© Marvin Philip played extensively at left guard instead of center. That tells me the team is interested in keeping him over Okobi and wanted to see if he can handle another position if he is going to be active on game days.

© LaMarr Woodley could very well lead this team in sacks this season.


adamg said...

Dale, Okobi is the Steelers best center. It's hard to watch individual players on TV, but when I saw Okobi in there, he was having no trouble at all handling the Eagle NT/DT by himself. He is more squat and stronger than Mahan plus he's got really long arms and is able to latch onto the DLs before they get their hands on him. I don't read anything into the Phillip move, most centers can switch to G if necessary. Even if they kept Phillip, he would not dress on game days and the Steelers simply cannot go into game days with a completely inexperienced C
backup. The Steelers do not have salary cap issues and can afford to keep Okobi, in fact they have to because with free agency, the OL for next year is muddled when potentially 3 of their 5 starters could be gone. Further, no one will claim Phillip off waivers or sign him off the practice squad. OTOH, Okobi would be snatched up in a minute by a team like Cleveland that's desperate for OL help. We don't need to help our rivals.

As for Krieder, he was much more effective than Davis at FB. He blasted a hole for Parker when he fumbled at the goal line. Had Parker stayed low, it would have been a TD. Davis certainly showed he can block, but he's not in Krieder's league. And, Krieder is another guy who would be signed immediately by another team in the AFC North should Pgh be dumb enough to cut him. Russell looks to be the odd man out given his playing time last night.

I see Tuman starting the season on IR as well and Spaeth being released and resigned to the practice squad then. He looks like a real bust draft choice to me.

datruth4life said...

Dale and blog nation, my thoughts on the Steelers-Eagles game:

-Dan Kreider, you just stopped all of the talk about the FB position. You stay and so does Davis. Davis might be this team's best special teams player and could be the team's short-yardage/goal line back. Willie Parker went into the line standing straight up and should've been lit up. I don't think Tomlin will panic, but if Willie keeps putting it on the ground down there, Davenport or Davis will get that job.

-Don't sweat Barlow getting those early carries. Tomlin likes Russell. Also, Russell hustling down on kickoff coverage and making a tackle didn't hurt his cause either. The five RBs will be Parker, Kreider, Davenport, Davis, and Russell, with the first four being active on game days.

-Willie Reid, you are blowing a grand opportunity. You will make the squad, but you might have lost the punt returning job to Cedric Wilson. You still have the kickoff return gig, but you haven't looked special in that category either. Reid is essentially a rookie, having only played about a few snaps in one game this past year.
He seems like he is in a hurry every time he goes back to field (muff?) a punt. He needs to relax a little bit and just play.

-I can't comment on if Okobi is the steelers best center. I didn't watch the center blocking during the game. I did watch Capizzi and Essex. Essex didn't stand out, which is a good thing for him. Capizzi still looks impressive. Did I tell you guys before that I hope Capizzi makes this squad?

-I think Coclough coming into the game when Taylor got hurt lets you know that he has this team made. Gay has been the team's best defensive playmaker in preseason. That means Chidi will get sent packing, unless they want to keep ten DBs, which I don't see happening.

-If Marvin Philips can play guard as well as center, then I don't think Okobi will be around. If their play is near even, and Philips can play two positions where Okobi can only play one, plus you can save the bosses $2 million, then Okobi is history. Sorry Adamg. You can check out your boy on the Cardinals this year. If Cowher were here, Okobi would stay. But there is a new sheriff in town who doesn't really care about what you have done in the past. By the way, what has Okobi done in the past?

-Ben, Ben, Ben. Just throw it out of bounds if no one is open. Please, just throw it out of bounds. Are you guys as thankful for having Charlie Batch as I am?

-Timmons looked like a 21-year-old rookie linebacker that has missed most of the preseason and offseason who was getting his first extensive action at OLB. He did a lot of running around with very little to show for it. Woodley, on the other hand, looks like he's ready to start. J. Harrison hasn't made any plays yet in games and Woodley is a better pass rusher now than either Haggans or J. Harrison.

-By the way, if Capizzi is kept along with Russell and the six other rookies (Timmons, Woodley, Spaeth, Sepulvada, Gay, McBean), this will be Kevin Colbert's best rookie class ever. We'll just have to wait 3 years to see that. I just let all of you know a little bit early, that's all.

-That sixth DL line spot is still up for grabs. It could go to either Eason, McBean or Kimo (he's about to get cut from the Jets).

-Have you guys seen anybody that you would rather keep around as an extra position player other than Capizzi? I haven't. He could be the team's heir apparent at LT, or at worst, could move to right tackle next year and allow Willie Colon to move to his most natural position of guard.

-What happened to Walter Young? Has he even gotten on the field the past two games. He would have caught that pass that Dallas Baker let go through his hands. If I was St. Pierre, I wouldn't throw to Baker anymore. He's making it harder for St. Pierre to make this team.

-St. Pierre has this team made, though. For those that need convincing, just check out the 3rd string QBs on other teams during other preseason games, and you'll see that the Steelers would be smart to hang on to him.

-The most improved area on the team so far is probably the secondary. Ike and Townsend are playing well, McFadden didn't look good against Washington but he is a player and Coclough looks much improved (he is at least looking for the ball now in deep coverage instead of having his back turned all the time. Now, he needs to cut down on his cushion and stopping giving up so many outs). Gay is going to push somebody to get on the field. He has looked like a playmaker thus far. Adamg, you still think Gay won't make this team? Clark is steady and A. Smith is coming on fast.

-Sepulvada, we don't need any explanation. Just don't let it happen again.

-So far, Kiesel hasn't looked like Adalius Thomas. He's looked more like Frank Thomas.

-It shouldn't be hard to get to 75 with this team. Just cut everyone on the Steelers 3rd-team defense (Timmons stays, but he didn't play like it last night). This group is pretty brutal.

-This is my quick shake down of the roster going into the last game:

3 Quarterbacks – Roethlisberger, Batch, St. Pierre.

5 Running backs – Parker, Kreider, Davenport, Davis, Russell

5 Wide Receivers - Ward, Holmes, Wilson, Reid, N. Washington

3 Tight Ends – Miller, Spaeth, Tuman

10 Offensive Lineman – Smith, Fanacea, Mahan, Simmons, Colon, Starks, Essex, Kemeatou, M. Philips, Jason Capizzi

7 Defensive Lineman – Smith, Hampton, Kiesel, Kirschke, Hoke, Eason, McBean.

8 linebackers – J. Harrison, Farrior, Foote, Haggans, Woodley, A. Harrison, Kriewaldt, Timmons –

9 defensive backs – Taylor, Palomula, Townsend, Clark, A. Smith, McFadden, Carter, Gay, Coclough

3 specialists – Warren, Sepulvada, Reed

Dale Lolley said...

They won't cut Spaeth. No way. First of all, Tuman's still nursing a back injury and they're not going to cut a third-round pick.
As for Okobi being better than Mahan, I'm not so sure about that. They're close, for sure. But Chukky also has medical issues that would not let me put all my eggs in that basket.
Kreider likely made this team last night at Verron Haynes' expense.

adamg said...

Dale, I agree Spaeth won't be cut because of Tuman's injury, but he has shown nothing so far. I can't imagine the Steelers not putting Tuman on IR since he's seen no action at all. That gives Tomlin, et al, another 4 weeks to evaluate Spaeth. They can keep another player on the roster in the interim with the added benefit that teams looking for good cast off cuts, and the Steelers have a few, will have already filled their rosters and practice squads.

It will also be interesting to see exactly how "invested" Tomlin is in his draft choices and if he will keep a draftee even if he doesn't perform.

I also agree Krieder will be around for the season although I think Russell will be the one cut and on the practice squad.

I haven't been to a Steeler game in awhile, but when I did the chance to put the glasses on Okobi a few years ago, he impressed me. I think he's better than Mahan and had he not been hurt, he'd be the starter.

Last, what about Faneca? I know he's a terrific player, one of the best ever to wear the black and gold, but he really looks to me as if he might be on the downhill side. Last year there were games when he was overpowered and I thought I saw a couple of plays last night where he had trouble handling his man one-on-one. The Steelers are pretty good at discerning when a player is past his peak and I wonder if they haven't decided that's the case with Faneca.

Dale Lolley said...

Okobi isn't somebody they think they can count on - in my opinion. His neck injury last season was a serious one and I just don't think he could stand up as a starter.
I don't think they'll IR Tuman.
As for Faneca, they obviously have decided he's on the downside - hence they didn't extend him.

adamg said...

Thanks, Dale. That's a good point about Okobi's health and the neck injury last year. It probably does make the coaches nervous. What about Simmons as the next center? As I said earlier, he's very good at pulling which the Steelers ask their centers to do a lot. It might also help him in pass-blocking as he wouldn't usually be needed to block any DL by himself.

Maybe the Steelers won't IR Tuman, but then it's really not fair to the guys who have sweated through
practice and preseason that Tuman should just get an immediate roster spot, even though he's their 2nd best TE. If I were a player, I'd be watching what Tomlin does to gauge that against what he said about basing decisions on performance.

datruth4life said...

Adamg, you are confusing IR (Injured Reserve) with PUP (physically unable to perform list). When a player is put on IR, they are done for the year. A player can only go on PUP and miss the first six weeks of the season if he has yet to participate in a practice. Tuman has practiced, therefore he cannot go on PUP. If he is put on IR, he is gone for the year.

-That being said, I would be surprised if Tuman is cut because Spaeth hasn't proved that he can block or catch the ball yet.

-I don't think Okobi is such a great loss. I mean, what has he done anyway? He's filled in for Hartings for a few games, but we aren't talking about a Hall of Famer here. Philips, who can play guard and center, will win that spot and be active on game days with K. Simmons as a 3rd team emergency center during games. D. Stapleton will be put on the practice squad. This move will also save the team $2 million in salary. You say the salary isn't a big deal, but it is for the Rooneys if they can save it and be that much more under cap in case of an emergency.

-Where is all of this Fanacea playing LT stuff if M. Smith gets hurt coming from? No. 1, Fanacea is upset at management and would probably balk at the move and No. 2, why weaken two positions instead of one? Let Essex or Capizzi (the 2nd best LT on the roster) play the position and give them tight end and RB help. Let Fanacea and the LG position continue to be a strength.

The final 53:

3 Quarterbacks – Roethlisberger, Batch, St. Pierre.

5 Running backs – Parker, Kreider, Davenport, Davis, Russell

5 Wide Receivers - Ward, Holmes, Wilson, Reid, N. Washington

3 Tight Ends – Miller, Spaeth, Tuman

10 Offensive Lineman – Smith, Fanacea, Mahan, Simmons, Colon, Starks, Essex, Kemeatou, M. Philips, Jason Capizzi

7 Defensive Lineman – Smith, Hampton, Kiesel, Kirschke, Hoke, Eason, McBean.

8 linebackers – J. Harrison, Farrior, Foote, Haggans, Woodley, A. Harrison, Kriewaldt, Timmons

9 defensive backs – Taylor, Palomula, Townsend, Clark, A. Smith, McFadden, Carter, Gay, Coclough

3 specialists – Warren, Sepulvada, Reed

adamg said...

I know you can't cut a player when they are injured, but I thought there was an injured list that lasted 4 weeks before eligibility, not the PUP. To me, it would be a shame to lose a promising player because Tuman is hurt and the only option is to keep him on the active roster.

Again, here's my point about Okobi. He is their ONLY experienced natural center. Marvin Phillip spent last year on the practice squad, not even the active roster.
He is NOT, repeat NOT, ready for prime time and Tomlin has said as much. If Okobi is cut, then if Mahan is hurt, the first option is moving Kendell Simmons to C and inserting Kemo at RG. Essex and perhaps Colon would become the backup guards. Phillip would not be in the mix.

datruth4life said...

adamg, a player can be cut when they are injured. The team just has to reach an injury settlement with that player. However, there is no 4-week injury list designation in the NFL. If a player isn't healthy enough to play, but you don't want to put them on IR, they will just be on the team's inactive list for that week.

-My guess is that Okobi might not even play on Thursday. If he gets hurt that last game, then they could be on the hook for his $2 million salary this year. With his medical history, he could pull a Jerome Bettis, and say he injured himself just to stay on the squad and collect that salary or get an injury settlement. Simmons would only be the backup at center in an emergency situation, such as if Okobi or Philips wasn't available or on the game day roster. Simmons hasn't played center during a preseason game this year. If Philips can play both guard and center, then it increases the chances of him being one of the seven lineman active on game day.

-You're worried about a backup center with a serious injury history and $2 million salary. I'm more worried about who would play LT if Marvel Smith goes down. I think Capizzi could handle that and Essex has played there in the past. However, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette said today he doesn't know if either Capizzi or Essex will make this squad.

-Cheer up. You can always tune in on the Cardinals games this year if you want to follow Okobi's budding Hall of Fame career.

Dale Lolley said...

Philip was on the active roster all season last year. He just didn't play in any games.
And he is a natural center. It's the only position he's ever played. At some point they've got to get that game experience.
Also, I'm hearing they're keeping 10 DBs come hell or high water.

datruth4life said...

So Dale, if they're keeping Chidi and Coclough, that means one less spot elsewhere. Who do you think will go then, Capizzi or McBean?

-Do you still think they will keep 7 defensive lineman and 10 offensive lineman. If Capizzi goes, man, they will be making a big mistake.

-Dale, with that nugget of news, what's your updated 53 now?

adamg said...

Dale, honestly I don't get the need for 10 DBs and 3 TEs especially at the expense of another OL, DL or RB. The Steelers don't even have 5 good safeties on their roster.

FTR, I didn's say Okobi was the only natural center on the roster, but he is the only experienced center. Do you disagree if he's cut that Simmons will be the back up center even if the coaches don't call him that? The team normally only dresses 7 OL on game day, the 5 starters and two spares, 1 C/G and 1 T. Assuming Simmons starts that leaves Kemo as the spare G and Essex or Starks or Colon as the spare T with Simmons also serving as back up center. Where is the spot for Marvin Phillip?

Anonymous said...

One of you guys give me the skinny on Walter Young. Why keep Reid when you have Young???

BTW, this isnt a question for the sake of arguing. Its an actual question....

Dale Lolley said...

Anything about what the team normally does is out the window with a new head coach. For all we know, Tomlin will keep nine offensive linemen active on game day. We just don't know at this point.

As for my updated 53, keep Chidi over Capizzi - who will go to the practice squad. Keep Kreider over Haynes. The guy who could be in trouble is St. Pierre. I know Tomlin has said that ideally, he'd like to keep three QBs, but the numbers may not make that possible.

adamg said...

I agree Tomlin will do things his way, but FWIW, Bouchette made the same comment in his online chat today that I did about the team dressing 7 OL on game day. (no, I am not him)