Here’s some of the Steelers news from around the internet as we go into the long weekend. I hope Nice Pick Cowher readers enjoy some time with family and friends as we think about and honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life.
There is competition between Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams for who will get the job to guard Ben Roethlisberger’s “blind side” according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Max Starks had the left side last year and with his departure to the San Diego Chargers, the Steelers will have to choose a new starter for that position. Gilbert lost some 2012 playing time to injury due to an ankle sprain, but had a procedure done to make him less prone to the injury. Let’s hope so. The Steelers offensive line usually has so many injuries you need a block and line chart to keep up with who is in the starting lineup after a couple of games! Mark Karboly’s Steeler Notebook, in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, includes discussion about Gilbert.
Karboly quotes Ryan Clark’s on-the-field interview that Tomlin brought his veterans together to talk about the need for discipline. Ok, well, maybe there wasn’t a problem in the locker room last year (and maybe pigs fly – or at least drive convertibles), but Tomlin sure sounds like a head coach who is putting his foot down and reestablishing some order. It’s about time. Football is a tough game and it’s a business. You have to be disciplined and focused. Good.
Karboly finishes his notebook listing that the Steelers have now signed three more draft picks:
Wide receiver Markus Wheaton (third round), cornerback Terry Hawthorne (fifth round) and wide receiver Justin Brown all inked four-year rookie deals.”
On Thursday, I posted a blog wondering if the Steelers would be able to reinvigorate their running game or if it might take another year to get the pieces working together again. I also wondered if Jack Bicknell, Jr., would be able to put together a good blocking scheme to open up the lanes for the running backs. Mark Karboly quotes Maurkice Pouncey who is enthusiastic about the Steelers new blocking scheme which is listed as an “outside zone, one-cut blocking style.” Something needs to change as the Steelers had the fourth worst running game in the NFL last year, according to Karboly. However, this isn’t a wholesale change. It’s an addition according to Isaac Redman:
We are going to be dedicated to the zone,” running back Isaac Redman said. “We are still going to be a power team, but we are going to have this zone scheme in so we can keep the defense on its heels and keep them running.”
Karboly sounds hopeful that the Steelers have assessed the running back talent they have and are designing some schemes to give them an opportunity to gain more than 3 yards. If you want to take pressure off Roethlisberger, give him options. If the running game is working, then he doesn’t HAVE to throw the deep ball, but he still can if the WR is open. Give Roethlisberger an offense that has more than one trick. I agree with Karboly, I like what I am hearing and I have more hope than I did a day ago. However, I really want to believe. I may be looking at it through black-and-gold-colored glasses.
Ed Bouchette posted a piece on his PG+ website advocating that the teams need to put a priority on making OTA’s safer. He seems to be shaking his head over the polar opposite approach of Goodell wanting to make cutting players “more humane” while keeping options open for an 18-game season. Bouchette notes the risk of injury is just as great in OTAs as in the game, citing Michael Crabtree’s achilles injury which ended his season before it began. When I heard about Crabtree’s injury, I thought about Polamalu’s calf strain and I wondered how injury sustained in training activities is about personal training in the offseason and the teams having so little time with the players that they have to assume they are ready to sprint out of the gate. How much of it is just bad luck? Bouchette also notes that training camp used to be seven weeks long. I guess the teams had more control over the conditioning of the players at that point, but I’m not sure that is the answer for this day and age when we want players to be so specialized.
CBS’s local affiliate, KDKA, reports that the Steelers and Emmanuel Sanders are already working on a long-term contracts. While I am a little surprised because I thought the Steelers would wait until they saw some production from Sanders in the 2013 season, I’m glad to hear the feelers are out there. However, I’m even more in favor of what Sanders said when visiting The Fan Morning Show:
But he made it clear that any talk contract extension is a secondary concern right now. “You guys keep talking about the contract,” Sanders said. “You guys won’t let the contract go, but you know, at the end of the day, I’m telling you that I’m honest when I say I’m not worried about a contract. The contracts will come.”
The contracts will come. Sanders, put your head down, work hard and focus on being a Steeler. Don’t walk about grousing about what you think you deserve. You hired an agent to do that for you. Ask Antonio Brown – it worked for him.
That’s it for today. Sound off Steeler Nation – what do you think? What did I get wrong? What did I get right? What did I miss? To wrap up the week, all I have to say is: “HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!!!”