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Friday, August 14, 2009

Post-Arizona thoughts

I guess we can finally put the Michael Vick to the Steelers garbage to rest.

Cripes, ESPN spent a good five minutes talking about it during their pre-game show. Are they that stupid?

© Limas Sweed stepped up nicely on the big stage. The 45-yard catch from Charlie Batch was a nice adjustment, but his 11-yard catch from Ben Roethlisberger on third-and-10 in the first quarter was better. He went up and snatched that ball out of the air with relative ease.

The drop on third down later in the game was regrettable, but remember, he's replacing Nate Washington, who had his share of drops as well.

© I'd like to see more burst out of Rashard Mendenhall, but I thought he ran reasonably hard as well.

Mendenahll did have a nice two-yard run on third-and-short in the first quarter. If he can just fill that role he'll help this team out.

© Welcome back Daniel Sepulveda.

Sepulveda got a big cheer when he came onto the field the first time and again after his first punt went 46 yards and Antrell Rolle was forced to call for a fair catch.

James Farrior joked after the game that Sepulveda was going to hurt the defense because he was going to give opposing offenses more field to work with.

© James Harrison played just two possessions and had three tackles and three assists. Had he played the entire game, that works out to about a 24-tackle effort. And that was with Kurt Warner throwing the ball 10 times.

It kind of gives you an idea that Arizona wasn't exactly throwing the ball down the field against the first-team defense.

The Steelers had better get used to that. Teams are going to dink and dunk them in an attempt to keep those two outside linebackers from killing their quarterback.

© Isaac Redman is a hard runner but did you notice those blocks that Tank Summers was throwing for him as a lead blocker?

Summers also had a couple of tackles on special teams. I was among those who didn't think Summers could push Carey Davis off the roster. I still think it's a stretch.

But Summers showed me Thursday he might be able to do it.

Summers showed some chops as a special teams coverage guy as well.

© I asked Redman after the game which was better, his 99-yard run at Bowie State or his three-yard TD on his first NFL carry - albeit in the preseason.

He said the three-yard TD.

Hard to believe the Steelers were his only option coming out of school, but then again, he wasn't on the field much in his final two seasons because of injuries and grades.

For my Washington County wrestling fans, Redman was a 215-pound state champion in New Jersey.

© The coaching staff couldn't have been happy to see Joe Burnett fumble his first punt return. He rebounded nicely.

© One of these days the quarterbacks will learn to throw the ball to Mike Wallace when he's running a fly pattern when he's 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. Throw it as far as you can and let him run under it.

© After a shaky start, Dennis Dixon got better as the game went on. He needed that because he's been struggling a bit at Saint Vincent College.

© Bruce Davis had an interception off a deflection and also got some pressure on the QB. But his best play was a special teams tackle in the second quarter. He's got to contribute there, something he did not do in 2008.


HACK said...

I too thought Summers played fantastic...I would have liked to see him catch the one ball...I think he turned his head before it was in his hands...but he did everything but play defense. FB/HB - and looked to be on the both starting return teams...and both punt and FG units....Not only was he on the field...but he almost always ended up in frame..which means he was around the ball.

adamg said...

Thought the rookie centers looked good, too. I noticed Shipley slide over and make a great blitz pick up when he was in there. I think this might calm the coaches down if either Legursky or Shipley have to step up during the regular season. Otherwise, the regular OL was blah. Starks got beat on the speed rush a couple times and the OL looked out of sync with Essex and Legursky.

Liked what I saw from Mendenhall. He definitely had no problem running between the tackles and made a couple nice reads to make gains when it looked like there was no room to run.

It won't surprise me if Dixon suits up at the second QB on game days. He's coming along fine, but he has an odd throwing style. On one pass he looked like a baseball pitcher coming off the mound, landing on his front leg with his back leg way up in the air behind him. With the way he strides into his throws, I'm surprised more passes aren't being blocked at the line.

Anonymous said...

first team offensive line can't seem to run block very well.

Anonymous said...

I thought Ramon Foster looked extremely good, albeit against the second & third-team. Stonewalled his man on most passing downs and pulled like a monster on run plays. Thought Shipley looked smart & tough, but saw his short arms work against him on the second level. Couldn't engage well unless the defender was in front of him.

Anonymous said...

I thought Shipley looked pretty good, he seemed to get up off the ball very quickly on every down and get a good push up front. As mentioned up thread, when he picked up the second defender on what I believe was Mike Wallace's first completion he really impressed me. Dixon was a little rusty to start but he acquitted himself well as the game wore on, I wish that pass to Wallace had been on time.

Captain Cocktail said...

I really liked Redman a lot. He seems like he'd be a good short yardage back. I'd like to see more of Wallace next Saturday.

marc said...

dixon pats the ball right before he throws it everytime. he needs to get rid of that or smart DL will start knocking down passes and free safeties are going to read him like a book.

adamg said...

Dale, what was your thought on the block against A. Harrison, IIRC? It sure looked like a "Hines Ward rule" block by the offensive player. The receiver hit Harrison from the side and in the earhole of his helmet.

datruth4life said...


The one player that I was really surprised by was no. 73, Rashon Harris. I focused on him a lot and he consistently pushed the pocket, shed tacklers to pursue the ball, was stout at the point of attack and showed good burst.

Everyone here was talking like this guy was nothing but practice squad material, but the way he played last night, there is no way that you don't keep him, especially when this team has a need for good young 3-4 ends.

Can you imagine how good he and Ziggy could be in 3 to 4 years after working with DL Coach John Mitchell? Wow, this is shaping up as a heck of draft for K. Colbert.

Did anyone else notice the play of Harris at RDE?

Viz-Burgh said...

Harris looked really good, especially after missing the first two weeks of camp with a groin injury. Nice push. I was surprised to see him at DE though since I thought he was a DT project.

Very excited about Wallace, Burnett, Summers, AQ Shipley, Reddman, and David Johnson.

On the flip side, Urbik was getting rag-dolled & looking lost for a good portion of the night. And I'm praying that "The Tank" can step up because I'm SO tired of seeing Carey Davis get crushed while trying to lead block. He ends up filling the hole the RB was to go through instead of clearing it.

Dale Lolley said...

Who do you cut to keep Sonny Harris? They're not keeping eight defensive linemen on the active roster when they only use three.

That's more of what I've seen in camp from Urbik.

I have to admit I didn't see the block on Harrison. I was writing for a good portion of the game and haven't rewatched it yet.

datruth4life said...


The better question is who do you keep: Travis Kirschke or Nick Eason? I'm not keeping both and lose out on Harris. The way he played, he's not making it to the practice squad. Plus, you got him for four more years for dirt cheap.

I'd probably keep Kirschke. If a disaster happens, I think Eason will probably be at home waiting for a phone call. Anytime you play a 3-4 and you can come out of a draft with two young, athletic 3-4 DE's with upside, you're in pretty good shape.

The fact that Coach Mitchell will be coaching them up for the next few years would only add to the excitement and expectation.

A better question for you Dale: will Tomlin keep 5 RBs (FWP, Mendenahll, M. Moore, Summer, & Redman).

Can you tell me any reason why Carey Davis should remain on this squad over the Tank and Redman. I'd love to hear it.

jason said...

"Can you tell me any reason why Carey Davis should remain on this squad over the Tank and Redman. I'd love to hear it."


redman was a man possessed especially on that second td and summers threw a crushing block on his man on the first. those two td's were worth all of davis' career with the steelers so far.

Viz-Burgh said...

The block on Arnold Harrison was clean. He hit him below the shoulder & not all that hard either. I think Harrison was a bit off balance when the hit came.

What I hated was all the talk in the booth about the Hines hit being illegal while this guy's hit was legal. IIRC the NFL said that Hines hit would STILL have been a legal hit because he didn't hit the head or neck. Maybe I'm wrong on that, but I think that's what they said. Just like the Ryan Clark hits that caused the new rules this year would still both have been legal.

As for Sonny Harris, I'm not by any means saying he makes this team after one preseason game or that he SHOULD make the team. But keeping 8 DL certainly isn't completely out of the question since I'd expect 7 to be kept.

vaflyer said...

I think the following about our depth: Shipley and Harris were both low picks, I see no reason why they couldn't make it through to the practice squad.

datruth4life said...

Because if R. Haris continues to show that he can play, another team will pick him up and put him on their active roster. For a team whose top 6 DL are 30 or over and is supposedly looking for young, athletic 3-4 DE's to groom, that would look awfully stupid, don't you think?

When you already have what you are looking for in house, why not keep it and continue to develop it? The good thing is that the Steelers have a pretty good history of doing that.

Nick Eason isn't starting material. R. Harris just might be some day. Nothing wrong with keeping him and Ziggy on your regular squad to learn from Aaron Smith, Keisel, and DL Coach John Mitchell.

Dale, am I missing something here?

adamg said...

I was surprised at how much Whisenhunt wanted to win this game. I thought it was unnecessary to have Palko spike the ball with 18 secs to go because, let's face it, none of the guys on the offense then are going to be in that game situation during the season. And, if they are, Arizona is in a whole lot of trouble.

Viz-Burgh said...

While Nick Eason isn't starting material, he did come a long way last year from his performance in 2007. He's an improved player in this scheme & worth a roster spot.

Let's at least let another couple preseason games go on before we say who has to take another guy's roster spot (except for Carey Davis -- we've seen enough of him to speculate that anyone is worthy of that spot).

Anonymous said...

wow our offensive line is offensive to watch. just god awful, can't run block, pass blocking is still below average.

Dale Lolley said...

It was one game for Sonny Harris. Let's not put him in the Hall of Fame just yet.
Eason and Kirschke are still better option for this team right now.

I thought Tank showed some good stuff on special teams. But let's remember that Redman has yet to show he can do anything against top-notch competition as well.

datruth4life said...


Both Eason are Kirschke are in the last year of their deals and Harris is a draft pick that you can have for cheap for 4 more years. Both have the experience, but neither are NFL starter material. Harris might be in the future. For all the love that Ziggy got the other night, if you re-watched the tape of the game as I did, you'll see that Harris had a much better game than Ziggy.

It's true that Harris wasn't playing against starters, but I've never ever seen Eason pushing the pocket and holding the point of attack like Harris did the other night. I'm not trying to put the kid in the Pro Bowl, but if he keeps producing like he did his first preseason game, then there is no way that the Steelers can cut him, especially when you've been saying you want young, 3-4 DEs to develop. Well, one could be right in your lap that you drafted for that purpose.

If you still favor keeping Eason over Harris if the rookie continues to look impressive, then we can agree to disagree. No biggie. I just think the kid was the biggest surprise to me the other night.

I hope Tomlin gives Tank and Redman some work beginning in the second quarter against the Skins.

Dale, What are your thoughts about the play of the 2nd team OL the other night from left to right: Hills, Foster, Shipley, Urbik, Capizzi. I think they did pretty well, especially communicating and picking up the stunts and blitzes. If only the first team OL could do that.

steeler fan from the 70s said...

I agree with datruth4life.

Harris also impressed me. Now maybe he was going up against a realy poor caliber of player which made him look good.

But for argument's sake, let's say that the Steelers found a diamond in the rough. If so, the Steelers would have to keep Harris on the 53 man roster.

If they put him on the practice squad, I'm sure someone would snatch him up, especially considering how many teams run a 3-4 in today's NFL.

For the youngsters out there, the Steelers drafted a dl named Dwaine Board in the 5th round of 1979. But with Mean Joe Greene, LC Greenwood, Dwight White, Gary Dunn, Steve Furness, Tom Beasley, John Banaszak and whoever else, they cut Board.

Board was signed by the 49ers and became a very good dl for them for about 10 years.

Meanwhile, the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 79 but soon were searching for quality def linemen seemingly every year.

Back to this year, keeping someone like Nick Eason is not going to make the difference in whether the Steelers win the Super Bowl this year or not. If really necessary, Hoke can fill in at DE.

Or, if they really want to keep Eason and Kirshcke, they can go a man short at another position.

datruth4life said...


I'm not the only one who is noticing the play of Harris. DL Coach John Mitchell said that S. Harris set the bar pretty high for his first time out and that he now will expect nothing less from Harris everytime he takes the field from here on out. I really liked how Hood and Harris both looked in the team's nickle D. They both looked comfortable and effective in that scheme (Harris seeming held the point better than Ziggy, who still needs a lot of work in that area).

Another play that had a good game I think was S/CB Roy Lewis. He hade a couple of tackles on special teams and a couple of big hits in coverage. I don't remember hearing Mundy's name called once. That is not good for him. I wouldn't be surprised if the backup safeties on this squad ended up being Roy Lewis and K. Ratliffe.

Dale Lolley said...

Look, I'm not saying Harris didn't have a good game, but it was just that, one game.
The kid missed over a week of training camp as well. I'm just not ready to cut a vet to keep him around based on one game. He's got to show i three more times.

Robert said...

Kirschke will turn 35 on September 6th. He only has one or maybe two good seasons left in him tops. If Harris has the coaches thinking he can be contributer then I say keep him and Eason (who improved alot last year) and let Kirschke go. Not having him may hurt us a little bit this year but in the long term it is probably the right move. You can't grudgingly hold onto veterans and let the rookies slip away, you will eventually get old and your team will drop off quickly (this happened to the Chiefs)

The coaches have 3 more preseason games to make their decision. Cutting Kirschke would also net us some good cap room as I recal he has a pretty big salary.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you make moves for the future like that when you have your superbowl window open. If we do keep him, Kirschke isn't the guy I send packing.

Anonymous said...

Cut Kirschie or Eason and keep Harris. Use extra $ to re-sign Clark

Why does our O-line still suck

Robert said...

There is an argument to be made that we should make moves with only this season in mind. It will have to depend on the coaches evaluation of Harris. The idea that he could contribute as a backup on a level similar to Kirschke isn't outrageous.

FYI Kirschke is scheduled to make 1.1 mil this season.

Vaflyer said...

This whole debate comes down to a couple of questions:

1. Does Harris have the potential to be a starting DE in the NFL? If the answer is no, then cutting a vet who is a capable backup and a known commodity is not the right choice.

2. Do either of Harris or Eason dress on game days? As of right now, no so whoever you keep will not impact the games anyway.

3. Can Harris make it to the PS if we try to put him there? This sort of goes back to question #1. If we are not sure what his career potential is yet, this is what you try to do. I think sometimes we count on teams raiding other PS's to much. If he isn't going to contribute this year, and you think he can make it to the PS, this is what you do.

4. If Harris is clearly better than Eason you do NOT try to sneak the young guy to the PS hoping to expand your roster. This is how good players end up getting taken by other teams. You choose between the 2 on talent first.

kelly said...

Dale. where have you been? No updates for a while...

Is Legursky getting some work at guard now? How about Foster? Are they testing his versatility?

datruth4life said...

It really comes down to do you want Eason for now or do you want R. Harris for now and the future.

I'm going off of one preseason game, but he looked a lot better than I've ever seen Eason look in a game. Glad there are 3 more preseason games to decide this and I'm sure that each will get plenty of snaps to help the coaching staff make their decision.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else hearing Madison may have been cut? He left camp after speaking with Colbert.

Anonymous said...

If he hasn't been he should be, aside from that INT he looked completely awful.

Anonymous said...

No, he wasn't cut. His father passed away today so he was informed and then left camp.

Robert said...

He did look terrible in the preseason game, I am not sure he can contribute beyond ST's.

Anonymous said...

Roy lewis and burnett should make the team leaving no room for Madison

Dale Lolley said...

You guys totally discount special teams play until the special teams stink. Madison is a young Chidi Iwuoma. He's their best gunner - period.