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Friday, January 04, 2008

Some random thoughts

Troy Polamalu practiced Friday and will play in Saturday's playoff game against the Jaguars.

© I've gone back and forth on my pick in this game this week, but have settled on the Steelers, 27-24.

Jacksonville played a near-perfect game the last time, while the Steelers played anything but.

And Pittsburgh will come out throwing this time around.

© The Steelers will bulk up to stop the run in this game. Look for backup nose tackle Chris Hoke to see some time at defensive end.

© An AP story this week ws all about how this could be Alan Faneca's last game with the Steelers.

But there are some rumblings now that the Steelers will try everything possible not to let that happen.

Dan Rooney always regretted letting Rod Woodson go after the 1996 season and won't make the same mistake with an icon like Faneca.

Faneca is 31, but is still playing at a reasonably high level. Plus, there's always the possibility they could move him to center later in his career if he starts losing some of the one-on-one matchups on a regular basis. Because of that, it's possible he could play into his late 30s.

Look for the team to also make a strong pitch at keeping Max Starks as well.

This offensive line has been bad this season, but much of it has been a problem at center, where Sean Mahan just hasn't worked out.

The Steelers could go into 2008 with a line of Marvel Smith at left tackle, Faneca or Kendall Simmons at left guard, Faneca or Simmons – likely Simmons – at center, Willie Colon or Chris Kemoeatu at right guard and Starks at right tackle. They would then also take a young tackle in the first couple of rounds of the draft.

This is assuming the team gets good news about Smith's long-term health.

By making those two signings, the Steelers would avoid having to select offensive linemen in the first two rounds of the 2008 draft like they did with the linebacker position in 2007.

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