Recent Posts (Page 1185)

  • Steelers Release Three Rookie Free Agents

    The Steelers made some minor moves on Thursday as they begin the process of tweaking their roster for training camp which starts on July 23rd in Latrobe. The team released three rookie free agents, Wide receiver Eric Deslauriers, running back Paul Mosley and fullback Aaron Robbins. Deslauriers was signed by the Steelers as a rookie free agent out of Eastern Michigan, Mosley out of Baylor and Robbins from Wyoming.

  • Polamalu looking to sign, but when?

    Here’s a two-part question for you: How much do we really know about veteran agent Marvin Demoff, the agent of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu? Considering his track record, how much do we want to know? Certainly enough to know that anything is possible with Demoff – ranging from a speedy contract resolution between Polamalu and the Steelers, to a prolonged contract stalemate, and all the possibilites in between. In other words, expect the unexpected.

    Demoff is what you’d consider an old-school negotiator based in Los Angeles who has a history with the Steelers, although not necessarily a great one. He represented Rod Woodson when he was drafted in the first-round back in 1987. Woodson held out, missed his first NFL training camp and didn’t sign until October. Now on the other hand, Polamalu, the Steelers’ first-round pick in 2003, didn’t hold out, signed in July and participated in his first NFL training camp. Demoff, depending on the client in question and the client’s needs, can be either accomodating or stiff.

    Polamalu’s original contract ends following the 2007 season. The Steelers really don’t have to do a thing. They can permit him to play out his deal and then slap a franchise tag on him for the next two seasons if he doesn’t agree to their terms. Not exactly a nice way of conducting business with one of the Steelers’ best and most popular players, yet the price that one sometimes must pay to do business. Especially with a smaller-market team such as the Steelers.

    Demoff is attempting to hammer out a deal for Polamalu this offseason since the Steelers typically do not negotiate deals during the regular season. Keep in mind that Polamalu has a year left on his current contract, so basically what happens between right now and WEEK 1 vs. Cleveland may be revealing. Not signing Polamalu this offseason doesn’t mean a new deal won’t get done. But at the same time it could possibly send the wrong message to players and fans.

    Considering that linebacker Joey Porter was released after not securing the contract he wanted, and given that unhappy Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca has already promised to leave when his contract runs out after next season, the Steelers need to re-sign Polamalu as a sign of good faith, if anything else. So far, Polamalu is adopting a low-key, goodwill approach in negotiations. That could change if Demoff, who’s already shown the Steelers that he can drive a hard bargain, is unable to secure Ed Reed type of money for Polamalu. So the $64,000 question is this: Which Demoff do we get this year – the Woodson or the Polamalu version? Only time will tell.

  • Polamalu Extension a Must For the Steelers

    With the current state that the Steelers are in with a new coach, a new playbook on offense, and a division with two other teams that have continue to give the black and gold fits, there is one thing the Steelers need to do now to set their course in the right direction. Give Troy Polamalu an extension. If the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to succeed in the hostile AFC North with the pesky Bengals and brash Ravens, there is no question they cannot afford to let their best defensive player reach free agency at the end of 2007.

    Sure they could start the game of placing the franchise tag on Troy, and that would be fine, as it would basically force him to stay in Pittsburgh. But why the team would want to even play around with such a notion would be beyond me. The key to a defense that has already lost Joey Porter and last season was not as good as in years past is a safety in Polamalu that can make plays all over the field.

    Early indications is that the Steelers are going to run all kinds of different looks on defense in 2007, with multiple players playing the “roaming” role that Troy has played so well in that past. That is fine. In allowing Troy the option to roam or to play his safety spot, he becomes that much more of value to the Steelers. Don’t also forget at that point he can become a teacher to those players that are trying to learn the role. Let’s face it, how distracting is it to an opposing QB to see Polamalu race up to the line the moment before the snap of the ball, surely to cause havoc.

    The team has already released emotional defensive leader Joey Porter, and frankly, that is okay. Sure it would be great to have Porter around, but let’s be real, he was not as disruptive last season as in year’s past, and a recent CBS Sportsline column labeled him “The most overrated player in the game.” While I would not push it that far, I do think that even at 30 years old, Porter maybe is losing a step, and has seen better days. Then there is the firestorm over the whole Alan Faneca situation. The offensive linemen wanted a new deal, the Steelers didn’t give him one, so now he is going on record stating that 2007 will be his last year in Pittsburgh. Once again, those things will happen. Would love to have Faneca back in 2008, but if not, life will go on.

    As for Polamalu, replacing a player that is as dedicated, loyal, and as good as Troy is not going to be easy. He is without a doubt the best player on defense, and for a team that plans on running as many formations as the Steelers, his extension is a must. It won’t be cheap for the Steelers, but the alternatives are a bit scary with Polamalu in a different uniform.

  • Number #9 on the List of All-Time Best Players of the Cowher Era

    For 15 Days we will be counting down the Top 15 Greatest Steelers of the Bill Cowher Era. The list will have both offensive and defensive players, and in doing the list no kickers or punters were selected. Below is our number choice of the day building towards the number one Steeler of the Cowher Era.

    Number #9

    Levon Kirkland LB 1992-2000

    Steelers inside linebacker Levon Kirkland is at number 9 on our list of top 15 players of the Cowher era.

    Levon was a beast in the middle of the Steelers linebacking core for a number of years, playing with the club from 1992 to 2000. His speed for a big man (some say he was at times about 300 pounds) was amazing. He was held in high regard around the league, and most Sunday afternoons he would stun opposing teams with not only his strength, but his agility.

    Kirkland came to the Steelers in the 2nd round of the 1992 draft out of Clemson. The first season with the team he shined on a special teams unit that was Bill Cowher’s baby his first year as Steelers head coach. Kirkland always seemed to be around the ball carrier that year on special teams, and you can clearly see him in the Steelers highlight film from that 11-5 season making plays. The shift for him to start at linebacker came in the 1993 season, as he took the spot of David Little.

    It didn’t take long for Kirkland to make an impact, as by midway though his first season as a starter, he was making plays and making life tough on opposing teams. He also shined as he returned a Greg Lloyd forced fumble for a touchdown 24 yards in an early season win over the San Diego Chargers at Three Rivers Stadium. Kirkland that season recorded one sack, but his play in the middle was something the Steelers could seem to now count on for years to come.

    1994 was much of the same, as the Steelers defense rose to number one in the NFL, Kirkland was right there, making plays and stopping running backs. He recorded three sacks that season for the “Blitzburgh” defense, and picked off two passes. He also made some big plays in the playoffs, the biggest of which came in AFC Title loss to San Diego, where he and his teammates made three stops on the goal line of Chargers power back Natrone Means. Though the game ended in a loss, people around the league were starting to take notice of Levon.

    It was much of the same in 1995, with Kirkland now established as one of the best inside linebackers in the game. He once again was a leader on defense and played a big part in the Steelers going from 3-4 at one point, to reeling off 8 of their last nine games to finish 11-5. He again made big plays in the two home playoff games, and was a big part why Pittsburgh was going to Super Bowl XXX. It was in that game where America realized just how good the linebacker was. As the Steelers held Emmit Smith and the big bad Cowboys running game to just 56 yards, it was Kirkland that seemed to be in Smith’s back pocket on almost every play. He also had a sack of Troy Akiman in that game that gave the Steelers a shot at victory the eventually slipped away.

    While 1995 was good for Kirkland, his best season may have been the 96 year, in which he earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl and all-pro honors. Kirkland really rallied the defense that season, after Greg Lloyd was out for the year mid-way though the opener, it was Kirkland that inspired his teammates as the Steelers wrapped up the season at 10-6. Levon took over Lloyd’s role in pass coverage as the only linebacker in the Steelers nickel defense. He had four interceptions that season, a high amount for an inside linebacker, to go along with four sacks and 114 tackles.

    Kirkland continued to play at a high level in 1997, leading the team with 126 tackles and five sacks. The Steelers went 11-5 and reached the AFC Title game, only to once again lose, this time to the Denver Broncos. Once again Kirkland made the Pro Bowl. It was his last time invited to play in the annual affair in Hawaii. The next three seasons, Kirkland played on a Steelers team that underachieved. They didn’t make the playoffs, and the exposure for Kirkland was simply not there. He did continue to play well, but not for a team that year in and year out was close to being or was in the big game.

    The Steelers had a decision to make as the 2001 season came about them. With Kirkland sometimes around 300 pounds, and his play dropping off just a bit, the team bit the bullet and decided to cut him, mostly due to salary reasons. Levon went to Seattle that offseason, and did play well, gaining 100 tackles as the defensive stud on that squad. The following season he was off to Philly, where he wrapped up his career by leading a team that made the NFC Title game.

    Kirkland will also be recalled for his talkative style on the field, and his ability to make plays with his speed and agility. Despite his size, he was always a likeable player on the field with his teammates, and in the locker room with fellow players and the media.

    Tomorrow: Number #8

  • Number #10 on the List of Best 15 All-Time Steelers of the Cowher Era

    For 15 Days we will be counting down the Top 15 Greatest Steelers of the Bill Cowher Era. The list will have both offensive and defensive players, and in doing the list no kickers or punters were selected. Below is our number choice of the day building towards the number one Steeler of the Cowher Era.

    Number #10

    Casey Hampton NT 2001-Present:

    Steelers current nose tackle and man in the middle Casey Hampton is our number 10 on the list of the best 15 all-time in the Cowher Era. The Steelers have been lucky in that under Cowher there were really only two NT’s that mattered, Joel Steed, who was another solid player, and then Hampton, who was the team’s first round draft choice (number 19) out of Texas back in 2001.

    Hampton came on the scene just in time, as a rookie he played in all 16 games, learning the ropes and getting set for what has been a very productive NFL career. In Hampton’s first three years in the league, he played in 48 games, and by 2003 was selected to his first Pro Bowl. He was on his way back to Hawaii in 2004, but suffered a tear of his ACL and missed the rest of the season. The team was able to still play at a high level, but Hampton was missed.

    He returned in 2005, and once again played a huge part in the Steelers defense as the team made it all the way to Super Bowl XL. In that Super Bowl, Hampton had a key sack of Seattle QB Matt Hassleback. The amazing thing about the sack is when it came, as Hampton had only four career sacks going into the big game in Detroit. His ability to clog up the middle and usually take on double teams is another reason for his success, as his play usually allows another Steelers defender to come free and make the play.

    For his career, he has played in 54 games regular season games, recording 117 tackles, four sacks, two passes deflected, and two forced fumbles. He also has recovered two fumbles. Ask any personal man in the league about Hampton, and most can tell you how difficult it is to try and stop him.

    While Hampton will not make the Hall of Fame, or go down as one of the best Steelers defensive players ever, he is still regarded today as one of the toughest players in the league to block, and is a huge reason why the Steelers have the success they do on defense.

    Tomorrow: Number #9


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