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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Post-Washington thoughts

There was plenty to like in Saturday's preseason loss to the Washington Redskins and some things that weren't so great for the Steelers.

We'll start with the good.

© Return man Stefan Logan may not have done quite enough to make this team with one good outing as much as rookie Joe Burnett did help him.

Logan averaged 12 yards per punt return and nearly 40 yards on four kick returns and both of those numbers are eye openers.

But the Steelers still like rookie speedster Mike Wallace as a kick returner. Burnett, however, has fumbled punts in each of the team's two preseason games.

The trouble with Logan, however, is that he's not going to be able to cover kicks - at least he hasn't yet - and with a veteran team, who do you cut on this team to keep a guy who only returns kicks?

Then again, Logan could be special and sometimes you have to bite the bullet.

© Second-year quarterback Dennis Dixon is starting to look like an NFL-caliber quarterback, at least one who can step in and make things happen in a pinch.

His back-to-back 17-yard plays in the second quarter – one a pass to Limas Sweed, the other a scramble – were big-time plays.

Dixon injured his AC joint in the fourth quarter - the same injury that dogged Ben Roethlisberger last season - but the severity of the injury is not yet known.

© Rashard Mendenhall looked much more comfortable running the ball this week than he did last week against Arizona. He hit his holes hard and got positive yardage with each carry.

Willie Parker also looked good.

Now if this team could just get its starting offensive line on the field together, we'll finally get to see if there's an improvement.

© After a slow start, the first-team offensive line got its feet under it - even with Doug Legursky at left guard in place of Chris Kemoeatu. Kemoeatu was out with a rib injury that's not serious.

The second-team line also did a pretty good job.

Remember, this was their first road game and that's always a little more difficult.

© This team wasn't supposed to have any depth at inside linebacker, but Keyaron Fox and Donovan Woods are thumpers.

Fox made a big stop on third down at the Pittsburgh 2 to keep Washington out of the end zone, while Woods blew up a return man on a kickoff.

They're both solid backups.

Now for the bad:

When you have more penalties than points, it's never a good thing.

That's two weeks in a row that the Steelers were highly penalized, something that hasn't been a problem in recent years.

They have to clean that stuff up.

© Burnett was this week's goat after being one of the stars of the first preseason game. In addition to his fumble, which led to one touchdown, he also got beat on a fade for another score.

But those are the things you deal with when rookies play.

© The Redskins gouged the Steelers on the ground at times in this one, something that doesn't usually happen, even to the team's third-team defense.

We'll say it was a schematic problem for now - at least until we get a chance to investigate further.


Anonymous said...

I think Logan may have made this team. Burnett certainly didn't help his own cause.

Why are they looking so much @ Vincent? I don't get it?

I'm somewhat disappointed in Timmons. He's taking really bad angels and making mistakes that I thought he was beyond.

Sweed. Man, this guy will drive a person to drink. Makes one, misses one, makes one, misses one. He did make a few nice blocks.

Not sure where your Dixon love is coming from. Personally, I need to see more from him.

Dale, Carey Davis absolutely blows. There's no question in my mind he has nude pics of a coaches wife or something to be staying on this team.

Donovan Woods is a hitting machine!

Ben said...

Here are a few of my thoughts, Dale. Many of them echo yours.

- Dixon will be offered a starting job (from another team) in the next 5 years. He has the skills and was a 5th round steal - I have no doubt.

- Mendenhall ran with purpose tonight. He hit the holes hard and had some nice 4-6 yarders. I was also pleased to see Willie make some breaks on the outside. If Mendenhall proves he can punch up the middle, this should be a nice tandem.

- Logan looked great - one step away from taking it to the house on more than one occasion. I don't know if he's that much better than Wallace on kick returns, though. At least not so much better as to warrant a roster spot.

- Was anyone else sickened by the call on the DB covering Miller? The "defenseless receiver" call? If that's the direction officiating in the NFL is headed, they're gonna have a lot of unhappy fans.

- Wallace looks like the real deal as a receiver. He runs clean routes -- fast -- and catches the ball. Ziggy continues to impress with sacks and hurries. With solid prospects in 1-3 and late-round gems like Harris, this team just got that much better -- and younger.

- People need to get off of Sweed's back. He's a second year, #3 receiver. He isn't Hines Ward. The guy he's replacing didn't catch everything thrown his way either. I fully believe he'll come around and be more consistent.

- The penalties were horrible, but most of them were committed by guys who won't make the team. On a semi-related note, does Tony Hills have the skinniest neck of any linemen you've ever seen, or is it just me?

Patrick said...

Agreed with just about everything, but some thoughts:

Dixon was really hit or miss. I almost think thats a good thing If hes hitting on some things, eventually he'll probably have it all down. And all he has is time. That said, I think Dale is abolustely right when he says if Ben R were out for a stretch, Batch would be the guy. I am fading on Dixon's potential as a gadget guy too, he looks way too upright and resembles a QB more than anything. (honestly I think he is kind of goofy looking for football player, he looks more like a lanky basketball player)

I'm not sold on Mendenhall, he had a nice average tonight, but something doesn't look right when he runs. He seems confused or just not up to the speed of the game yet - which isn't that crazy considering he's barely played in the NFL yet.

Sweed is a young Washington clone. The problem is Washington was an UDFA and Sweed a 2nd Rder. He needs to be more consistent, but I think he'll get there.

Thank god half of the guys who played in the late 2nd half can be cut, because they looked awful.

And because I have to, I really hope Dixon's softball catch didn't soften his shoulder. (I'm kidding...sorta).

Captain Cocktail said...

- Yeah I think the Steelers better find a spot for Logan the way he performed and with the way the Steeler's kick returns have been the past few seasons.

- I still don't think Dixon is starter material and maybe ever will be, BUT he moved up a little bit in my book. He can do in a pinch if need be. He has talent no doubt about that.

- Ziggy looked good again.

- A Baltimore had no problem with the Skins offense last week...lets hope it was the schemes

Anonymous said...

Thats 2 minute drill at the end of the 1st half, as well as the 17 play drive in the 2nd half was done thanks to the stellar play of AQ Shipley at center!!! Ass kicker!!! Bye Hartwig, AQ the starter next season. Did you see how long it took Coach T to yank Legursky after that snap to the sidelines just before the 2 minute drill?! BOOM! Legursky yanked, put in AQ to stabilize the line! Im very impressed with AQ.

superfan99 said...

As much as I enjoyed Logan's performance last night, he's still on the outside looking in my opinion.

Wallace is a dangerous kick returner. Moore, Holmes, Burnett, and Shaun McDonald can all return punts. Is there really room for a return specialist on this team? He's going to have to prove he can help somewhere else on the field.

marc said...

actually, i thought our defense looked slow and uninspired the majority of the game. obviously, there were some flashes, but otherwise we didn't fill lanes very well and were slow to react, imo.

at this time, i am not very comfortable with dixon. he holds the ball way too low, he telegraphs his passes, and he doesn't seem to have a good feel for when to throw the ball hard and when to lay it in there.

ziggy will be a beast for years to come. i think i noticed on a couple plays he was holding off an offensive lineman with one arm while looking to see where the ball was.

i hope tomlin hasn't been too soft on these guys this year. i know they are trying to avoid injuries, but they need to be more aggressive.

Anonymous said...

Shipley, Legursky and even Urbik looked solid yesterday. Maybe urbik does need to be in game to be good

Anyway, looking like a solid draft with Hood, wallace, shipley and urbik

Lewis seems ok, nothing spectacular thus far. Burnett ok as a CB, no for punt returning. Sonny harris is a late round gem, we have got to keep this guy!

adamg said...

Legursky earned a roster spot last night. He had the bad snap, but he played well at both C and G.

Shipley's play will make it hard for the coaches to cut him. He might not have a prototypical build, but he's proving he's a football player above all else. I think if AQ were to be cut, he'd be claimed off waivers.

The Steelers suddenly appear to have some quality depth on the OL.
The cuts here will be interesting.

Logan probably also earned himself a spot on the team.

Burnett's two fumbles on punt returns plus his lackluster play at CB makes him no better than Anthony Madison. PS looks likely for Burnett.

Dixon would be the #2 QB to open the season save for the shoulder injury he suffered last night. Batch's best days are in the rear view mirror.

Mendenhall is fine. He shows no hesitation running between the tackles and runs hard.

Eason seems to be getting better. I guess John Mitchell deserves a lot of credit here as Eason was just hanging on when Pgh signed him. Kirshke is okay, but with Hood and the need to get younger on the DL, but night be in a battle with Sonny Harris to make the team. I think if there was a serious injury, Kirshke would be out there to be an emergency signing.

David Johnson probably didn't show enough to make the team.

Not sure why Justin Vincent got so much time unless the coaches promised to get him some plays on tape to show other teams.

Anonymous said...

Logan has to make the team, he is the return guy we have been searching for. I like how he runs right upfield no side to side bs like Randel El used to do. Question: any chance Logan can pitch in as a 3rd down back on occassion?

I still think Burnett has potential though....maybe they can stash him on the practice squad

I was impressed with Legursky. He should make the team.

I was also impressed with Mike Wallace and Keyeron Fox

Anonymous said...

They should cut Logan and go back to having a 250 lb goal line back get the kick off and run into the pile. That worked so well last year,

Patrick said...

if Logan stays, the position that prob loses a spot is RB. So back to this topic again we would prob be looking at Parker, Mendenhall, Moore, Redman and either Davis or Summers. Plus Logan that's 6 RB's (including him as a RB because I see him getting work there as opposed to WR). 6 is a lot and we definitely don't seem to be cutting Redman.

I'm not sure how I feel about Logan. He obviously showed some stuff, but he would have to be very special during the regular season to warrant a roster spot just for return ability. Though in 2007, Tomlin dedicated a roster spot to Rossum, and all he did was return. So I can't really say one way or another.

BoJangles said...

Like you said that bum Rossum held up a roster spot all year long; and while he did deliver ONE KR...he did nothing else. Logan should get a spot on the team, he has the look of a Sproles type.

Anonymous said...

I was traveling and missed much of the game. I don't see comments about Redzone. Did he not play much last night? I figured with his reports after last game and practice that he might get some reps against first or second team. But Vincent got reps? He's not even part of the equation for the final 53 from what I can figure.

Glad to see Logan on the return game. He looked really good from the parts that I saw. I'd hate to lose him from special teams.

Robert said...

We should find a way to keep Logan, cut Madison.

And cut Kirshce for harris.

Anonymous said...

did Redman even play?

I like Burnett as a corner but i think he is destined for the practice squad this year

Logan is a keeper

HACK said...

Right of today...No way Redman makes final 53. Funny people say Logan has cant be just a ST player...and has to have another roster spot (he is now a WR by the way...has been since OTA's) Yet when I say Redman has to play ST and not be just a short yardage back...I get blasted.

205 yards last night for Logan. Thats a keeper.

I think its McDonald vs Logan for #5 WR spot...unless they keep 6 and drop someone else to do it.

Patrick said...

I know Logan has been a WR in camp, but I think he resembles more of a Sproles type player than WR. When's the last time a 5'6 WR played? Some people would bring up Steve Smith comparisons, but Smith is 2-3 inches taller.

I just don't see him as WR and think his best chance to pay another position is at RB. But we'll see. I think if he has another preseason game with solid returns (not 205 yards) and shows he can handle the ball consistently, which is huge for a returner, then he makes it. It's hard to release someone with that that kind of skill, I agree on that. But you can't devote a roster spot to just a returner that could be a flash in the pan, in the preseason nonetheless.

I'm still either way on him though, its a tough decision for the FO and they usually make good ones.

keevin said...

we are stacked at RB and WR. we don't need Logan for anything except returning punts and kickoffs.

they can easily make room for a roster spot for Logan

and it won't be a tough decision at all if Logan has a similar performance Saturday night

Wedgebuster said...

i havent read through all the comments not sure if someone already made this point, but remember we had Alan Rossum on the roster as strictly a return man. He was not serviceable at corner. so if logan continues to impress he could maybe earn a roster spot strictly as a return man

SKINLEEE said...

I don't think you can deny that Logan did a nice job but for him to make the team he will need to do it in two more games. Otherwise, I don't know how we can sacrifice depth at other positions (Shipley, Redman, Summers, Harris, Foster) by trying to slide them to the practice squad.

Dale Lolley said...

I think Vincent played more than Redman because they're trying to hide Redman right now and temper some of the big talk about him.

He's not ready to contribute on special teams, so to keep him on the roster, he'd have to be one of the top two or three backs. He's not, so he's likely headed to the practice squad. But they don't want to show him too much in the preseason because then he would get signed away.

The comment about Sweed-Washington was dead on. Washington dropped more than his share of balls as well. That No. 3 guy is a deep threat - which Sweed is because of his size - top open up the underneath routes for Ward/Miller.

As for Logan, I want to see it again because it's going to be difficult for this team to cut any of its rookie draft picks. They like them all.

Finally, for those thinking that cutting a defensive lineman will be easy, realize that Denver is starting Ryan McBean. Starting.

keevin said...

Dale - very interesting about Redman and that makes sense to me

thanks for sharing

datruth4life said...


If they are trying to stash Redman as you say, then does that mean that the Tank will make it? I think if the young guy deserve a roster spot, then cut Carey Davis and give him one.

Also, would you keep Joe Burnett, who is the 7th DB on this team and a player that you CAN'T trust at this point to return punts, over Stefan Logan, who could save you a roster spot by returning KR/PR and serve as an emergency 5th slot WR on game day? I think Burnett will end up on the practice squad.

I know you are not convinced, but there is no way that I'm releasing Sonny Harris if I am the Steelers. This guy had another solid game against the Skins and he is supposed to be too raw right now to contribute with a lot of upside.

Well, anytime you can come out of a draft with two 3-4 DE's like Ziggy and R. Harris, plus a young NT to stick on the practice squad like McClendon, then I think your team has had a pretty decent draft.

Dale, you've had enough time to evaluate the 80 on this roster. Quit fooling around. Time to give us your 53-man roster.

datruth4life said...

And as for "young guy", I meant Redman. If he is one of your top 53, and can do something no other back on the roster can do (goal-line and short yardage guy) and play special teams, then keep him.

HACK said...

What id Redman is goal line short yardage and NOT SPECIAL TEAMS

Redman heads to the PS...when you are that deep into the depth must play ST. It was funny...but that was all Theisman talked about during the game....except he did it about the Redskins #4 HB...

Dale Lolley said...

They've been working with Burnett as their second-team nickel back - ahead of Lewis. It's been Burnett with Townsend and Ratliff.

As for Tank, he could make it because of special teams play. That would give them five backs - with Carey Davis also making it.

Dale Lolley said...

Also, the thing to remember about Logan is that he doesn't cover kicks or punts at all, not even as a gunner.

He's also very raw as a receiver.

datruth4life said...


What about your 53? You've had a couple of games to evaluate so it is time to let us know.

Ben said...

Hey Dale, how many special teams specialists are we likely to carry? Off the top of my head last year we had some great play from Donovan Woods, Keyaron Fox, Anthony Madison and Patrick Bailey. I don't recall any of them really contributing in a major way in other facets (perhaps Fox?). Chuck in a handful of other guys who didn't really see much time other than ST but could've perhaps chipped in if there were injuries (say, Frazier?) and Carey Davis, that's a big core of special teamers.

This year it looks like David Johnson and Frank Summers could be good enough to join that ST core. But if there's one thing I've seen in pre season it's that I wouldn't be hugely scared for our D is Fox or Woods stepped into the starting lineup for a period. And remembering that we have one extra slot to allocate because Larry Foote is now in Detroit, couldn't you pretty easily justify keeping the rooks with upside (Harris, Summers, Logan and Johnson) over the likes of Bailey, Carey Davis and Anthony Madison?

Which way would you go?

Anonymous said...

Seems pretty stupid to put our best goaline/short yardage option on the practice squad. Who is going to be the short yardage back if we don't keep redman?

Anonymous said...

Even if Redman was the best goaline/short yardage option on the team if he can't produce on special teams he won't dress on gamedays. Think of Gary Russell last year. He was supposed to be our goaline/short yardage back, but he didn't dress until Parker and Mendenhall got hurt.

vaflyer said...

I too would like to see where you think the coaches are headed for the 53 man roster...even throw in the PS as I would like opinions about who you think can make it through without being signed by others.

SKINLEY said...

Skinley's 53 man Roster

QB: Ben, Batch, Dixon (3)
RB: Parker, Mendy, Moore, Davis, Summers (5)
WR: Hines, Holmes, Sweed, Wallace, McDonald (5)
OL: Starks, Kemo, Hartwig, Essex, Colon, Legursky, Shipley, Foster, Stapleton, Hills, Capizzi (11)
DL: Keisel, Hampton, Smith, Hoke, Hood, Eason, Harris, (7)
LB: Woodley, Timmons, Farrior, Harrison, Woods, Bailey, Fox, Davis (8)
DB: Ike, Gay, Townsend, K. Lewis, Ratliff, Madison, Polamalu, Clark, Carter, R. Lewis
ST: Reed, Sepulveda, Warren, Logan (4)

Practice Squad:
Redman, Nance, Mundy, Czech, Reilly, Burnett, D. Johnson,

*Czech makes PS at least until Reed gets signed. Redman hopefully clears waivers. Mundy needs another year to develop. Nance can still hang with his buddy Ben. D. Johnson can maybe overtake #2 TE spot once Spaeth goes. Burnett will be lucky to clear waivers but fumbles have him or K. Lewis on bubble especially if Logan stays as return guy.

Skinley's Critic said...

Nice try at the 53 man but you need to trim it by 3 tight ends mentioned and Miller, Spaeth, and McHugh are locks.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he still qualifies in some Brian St Pierre sorta way, but I think Nance has exhausted his practice squad eligibility. Could be wrong, I don't remember where Minny pigeon holed him while he was there.

Oh, and McClendon could start for Denver too.

Robert said...

I want Johnson on the team, we need all the blockers we can get we have more pass catchers than we need I would rather cut Spaeth than Johnson.

Really, our #2 TE gets how many catches? Like 10? Wouldn't you rather just hit Miller more often? Spaeth is a liability in the run game every down and we don't need another recieving TE. Cut him and start Johnson, then we might actually see a running game.

Seriously, you eliminate the blocking FB, have a TE who can't block and don't invest a top pick in the oline in 6 years and we wonder why we can't run the ball?

Vaflyer said...

I will give everyone mine and see what you think:

QB: Ben, Batch, Dixon (3)
RB: Parker, Mendy, Moore, Davis, Summers (5)
WR: Hines, Holmes, Sweed, Wallace, Logan (5)
TE: Miller, Spaeth, Johnson (3)
OL: Starks, Kemo, Hartwig, Essex, Colon, Legursky, Stapleton, Hills, Capizzi (9)
DL: Keisel, Hampton, Smith, Hoke, Hood, Eason, Kirshke (7)
LB: Woodley, Timmons, Farrior, Harrison, Woods, Frazier, Fox, Davis, Bailey (9)
DB: Ike, Gay, Townsend, K. Lewis, Ratliff, Burnett, Polamalu, Clark, Carter (9)
ST: Reed, Sepulveda, Warren (3)

PS: Redman, Foster, Shipley, Harris, others?

I hate to risk the guys I have going to the PS, but I really don't think teams are going to sign them. Redman...UFA. Foster...UFA. Shipley...7th round pick. Harris...6th round pick. These aren't typically the kind of guys you see other teams signing to put on their roster. To their PS...maybe, but not on the roster. Teams usually have their own picks they want to stick there, but it is a risk.

Anonymous said...

If thats your 53, I would bet at least 3 of the practice squad guys you mention get picked up quicker than Paul Ernster's Steelers career!

Vaflyer said...

That 53 was what I thought we would see, but I personally would have gone another way. I like the 4 guys I have listed as going to the PS.

I would drop Davis and keep Redman.

I would drop Eason and Kirschke and keep Harris and Foster.

I would want to keep Shipley, but I don't know who to cut to get him on the roster. I would consider Bailey as I don't think we need 9 LBs, but he is really good on special teams and I think he helps us win now. I would consider Carter, but unless you are willing to move Lewis to Safety, something I might consider, or Townsend there full time, it leaves you with very little depth.

Anonymous said...

No love for Urbik? I doubt they cut a third rounder in favor of Legursky.

Anonymous said...

its gonna be a headache watching this team in short yardage situations if we dont keep redman. I guess it would be between summers and meddenhall for short yardage? lol we're screwed

anyways here is my 53 you can replace summers with davis but id like to see davis cut

Quarterbacks (3)
• 16 Charlie Batch
• 2 Dennis Dixon
• 7 Ben Roethlisberger
Running Backs(6)
• 49 Sean McHugh FB/TE
• 34 Rashard Mendenhall
• 21 Mewelde Moore
• 39 Willie Parker
• 33 Isaac Redman
• 44 Frank Summers
Wide Receivers(6)
• 10 Santonio Holmes
• 87 Shaun McDonald
• 14 Limas Sweed
• 17 Mike Wallace
• 86 Hines Ward
41 Stefan Logan
Tight Ends(2)
• 83 Heath Miller
• 89 Matt Spaeth
Offensive Linemen (9)
• 74 Willie Colon T
• 79 Trai Essex G/T
• 73 Ramon Foster T
• 62 Justin Hartwig C
• 68 Chris Kemoeatu G
• 64 Doug Legursky C
• 72 Darnell Stapleton G/C
• 78 Max Starks T
• 65 Kraig Urbik G
Defensive Linemen(7)
• 93 Nick Eason DE
• 98 Casey Hampton NT
• 73 Ra'Shon Harris DE
• 76 Chris Hoke NT
• 96 Evander Hood DE
• 99 Brett Keisel DE
• 91 Aaron Smith DE
Linebackers (8)
• 50 Bruce Davis OLB
• 51 James Farrior ILB
• 57 Keyaron Fox ILB
• 54 Andre Frazier OLB
• 92 James Harrison OLB
• 94 Lawrence Timmons ILB
• 56 LaMarr Woodley OLB
• 95 Donovan Woods OLB
Defensive Backs(9)
• 40 Joe Burnett CB
• 23 Tyrone Carter S
• 25 Ryan Clark FS
• 22 William Gay CB
• 20 Keenan Lewis CB
• 37 Anthony Madison CB
• 43 Troy Polamalu SS
• 24 Ike Taylor CB
• 26 Deshea Townsend CB
Special Teams(3)
• 3 Jeff Reed K
• 9 Daniel Sepulveda P
• 60 Greg Warren LS

adamg said...

Congrats to Dick LeBeau for being selected as 1 of 2 senior finalists for the NFL Hall of Fame. A well deserved nomination for sure.

Vaflyer said... did I miss him? I guess Hills or Capizzi would need to come out of there.

Cajunyankee said...

Dale,How is legursky looking,am I right in thinking he has made the 53-man roster? Who do you feel will make the 53 on the OLine? Do they dare cut Urbik in favor of Foster? I also haven't heard much about Mundy this off-season, how has he been looking in camp and pre-season games?

Dale Lolley said...

Legursky's status probably depends largely on Stapleton. If Stapleton is good to go at the beginning of the season, Legursky could be expendable. It would put him into a battle with Capizzi and Parquet, who also play guard.

Bupp said...

Just read that McHugh, who missed today with a knee, is going to have it scoped and "cleaned up". His recovery time may make it possible for Johnson to make the 53.

Anonymous said...

Legursky is better than Stapleton

Duane said...

If it comes down to having to cut either Redman, McDonald, or Logan, I'd have to say Logan. We left too many points on the table last year because the offense couldn't punch it in. It almost cost us the Super Bowl. We need a guy like Redman. We need a surehanded slot receiver to help sustain drives on 3rd down. McDonald is a key for us there. Logan does seem like a special returner, but getting some extra yards on returns isn't as important as keeping the drive going on 3rd down and punching it in for a TD in the red zone. The only other option would be if Santonio ends up being our slot receiver, with Wallace on the outside, and we cut McDonald, IMO. Hopefully they can keep all 3 of these guys.