Sunday, July 05, 2009

Training camp three weeks away

Training camp is three weeks away and I can already feel the excitement about the upcoming football season building.

The Steelers don't have a lot of position battles this season, but they have some things worth watching.

Who will be the starting right guard, Darnell Stapleton, Kraig Urbik or darkhorse Trai Essex?

That's right. Essex could be a factor at that position.

The starting cornerback position is William Gay's to lose and he will have to fall flat on his face or get hurt to do so.

But who will be No. 3? Deshea Townsend again? One of the rookies? Keiwan Ratliff?

Ratliff has younger legs, but you can never count our Townsend. And the rookies, particularly Keenan Lewis, looked good this spring.

The other big battle will be fo the No. 3 receiver spot. I think Shaun McDonald may steal that one from Limas Sweed.

McDonald would give the team the ability to keep Hines Ward on the outside or shift him to the slot if it so chooses. If Sweed's on the field, Ward has to go to the slot.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Trai Essex looked really good last preseason. I was surprised after Simmons got hurt that they started Stapleton instead of Essex last season

Also remember when Marvel Smith first got hurt, they played Essex for 1 game not Starks which of course started a big contraversy

Anonymous said...

I thought they preferred Ward in the slot on 3rd down anyways

datruth4life said...

Dale,

I'm interested to see how the DL situation plays out. I believe they will keep 7 this year and I think that DE Jordan Reffett or DE Rashoin Harris can knock Nick Eason off the roster.

We both talked a little about Reffett during last year's preseason and were impressed with his size, motor and athleticism. Now that he knows the system, he can just go out this training camp and preseason and turn it loose and play.

Harris is someone I'm sure that they want for the future, but with Keisel and Big Hamp going into the last year of their deal, this might be the time to keep both rookie DL on the roster, especially if you are preparing Harris to be the 2nd NT after Hoke if you don't bring back Big Snack.

All in all, I am definitely excited abuot this camp. I think WR Mike Wallace is going to add a dimension to this team that it hasn't had in awhile.

Do you think that CB/special teams ace A. Madison will make this year's squad? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to say who will make the team yet considering training camp and preseason hasn't even started yet

people need to chill on that stuff

marc said...

personally, i like the way sweed rebounded from his drop against the ravens last year. it would have been real easy for him to go in the tank, but he didn't.

with that said, i believe we'll see sweed and mcdonald rotating in the number 3 slot throughout the year unless one of them really steps up.

Keith said...

I agree on McDonald, I think he'll keep Sweed in spot play this year. I'd love to see Sweed step up though, he could make the passing game really dangerous.

I think Nick Eason is underrated.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm nowhere near sold on the fact that Mendenhall is going to contribute much again this year, let alone start over FWP.

Also not sold on Dennis Dixon ever developing into a passable backup QB. We are going to miss Leftwich this year if, god forbid, Ben gets dinged.

Dale Lolley said...

Yes, they like to move Ward to the slot on third downs. But with McDonald, they would have the flexibility to not HAVE to move him inside.
If it's Sweed and Homes with Ward, Ward's going to the slot every time. That makes it easy for the defense. They know where he's going to be at.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, they like to move Ward to the slot on third downs. But with McDonald, they would have the flexibility to not HAVE to move him inside.
If it's Sweed and Homes with Ward, Ward's going to the slot every time. That makes it easy for the defense. They know where he's going to be at."

oh, now I see you point

thx for the clarification

Anonymous said...

I am really surprised no one has mentioned the Mendenhall/Summers battle. Frank Summers looks to be a monster on short yardage which is one of the reasons Mendenhall was drafted in the first place.

I am looking forward to seeing Summers drag 5 guys into the endzone with him a few times this year.

Anonymous said...

Mendenhall is not a short yardage specialist and that is not why he was drafted

Anonymous said...

Rookie backs usually have their best years at the start of their career. If Mendenhall can't have a good season this year then he likely never will be anything special.

Patrick said...

Deangelo Williams wasn't exactly stellar in his first few years.

Give Mendenhall time, he's barely 22 if I remember correctly. The only concern is durability IMO. We never got a good look at the skills.

Dale Lolley said...

Mendenhall looked much more confidents this spring. I look for good things out of him this season.

Anonymous said...

"I look forward to seeing Tank Summers drag five defenders into the endzone."

It paints a nice picture. However, I'd rather see another one...the offensive line blowing open a hole wide enough for Parker (or whomever) to do a four-step shimmy as he dances into the endzone.

kyle said...

there's no reason to think mendenhall has durability issues. when a guy runs his helmet into your clavicle, your clavicle breaks.

when willie parker broke his leg in 2007 it wasn't because "they ran him too much" it was because a guy slammed into his leg.

if you want a durability issue try hamstrings.

Patrick said...

Kyle, I agree with you to an extent, but the bottom line is if you can't run into Ray Lewis on a routine play then you might have durability issues.

It could have been a crazy hit on a goofy angle, or maybe Mendenhall has a weak shoulder.

Let's hope its the former.

And its not a coinendence that Willie was on pace to break the Barry Foster line that year for carries and then he was injured. Sure the turf at St. Louis didn't help, but you run a guy that much and "the wheels fall off" (as Tomlin put it earlier that year, a comment and strategy I still hate) sometimes.

As to the last paragraph, thats why Mendenhall was drafted and Moore signed, to ease the load.

Dale Lolley said...

Routine plays in the NFL are like two cars crashing together at about 30 miles per hour.
High school football this ain't.

kyle said...

Patrick,
what about running more often weakens your bones? are you suggesting willie had smaller fractures accumulated over the course of the season making it easier for his leg to finally break? honestly, what about a few more snaps make you more likely to break a bone? other than just adding a number of times for it to happen.

the pros who don't get hurt aren't durable; they're lucky.

Anonymous said...

"Patrick,
what about running more often weakens your bones?"

- LMAO!!!!!!!

Patrick said...

Take a look at the article, I beleive Bouchette wrote, about Barry Foster and the # of carries he had the one year they ran him like a dog. He was never the same after that season and I think Willie might have the same problem. Can anyone honestly say with a straight face he was the same last season? Of course not.

So yes, using a back that much wears him down. It makes them more injury prone, by increasing the % chance of it happening , but also the wear and tear. Willie Parker wasn't an injury prone guy before.

Then take a look at guy's like Mike Brown, who just can't stay off of IR. They are injury prone players. I hope Mendenhall isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

Willie Parker is a scat back not an every down guy and he never should have been used like one.

The Steelers never should have relied on him so much to lead the running attack, he is way too one dimensional. He can't catch, pass protect or get tough yards.

kyle said...

Patrick,
are you suggesting that if the steelers had played the rams week 1 and the same play had happened that parker's fibula would have been stronger and not broken?

i'm with you that the season takes its toll, particularly on muscles. being tired and/or dehydrated makes you much more likely to pull, strain, or sprain a muscle. it does not make you more likely to break a bone when someone runs into you.

Patrick said...

I actually don't know if Parker was even hit on that play. So yeh it might not have happened.

Parker has said it was due to the turf, so maybe a stronger leg would have held on the turf?

Either way, you need to be careful with a back and their carries. I don't think he is done, but I think that season took a hard toll on him.

kyle said...

we agree. i'm all for limiting carries. i don't think he's done. i think we just had the most civil sports disagreement in internet history. thanks.

Patrick said...

I try my best to argue eloquently

(I just got done my 1st year of law school, you are forced to learn how to do it)

Neil Daly Colorado Dutch Creek said...

I hate to see Eason get bumbed, but I think he will.