The Steelers have settled one position that was up for grabs in training camp, that being right guard. Kendall Simmons will be the starter this season it was announced Tuesday, as so far he has been impressive at the position, and has done a nice job in holding off challengers Sean Mahan and Chukky Okobi to secure the starting job. The three, Simmons, Mahan and Okobi had been battling for the job, and now it’s down to Okobi and Mahan to fight it out for the role of starting center for the 2007 team.
Simmons remained confident throughout the early portion of camp, and made it known that he felt the position was his all along. “I don’t see it as there being any competition, to be honest with you,” Simmons said yesterday. He has been the starter since he was the teams number one draft pick in 2002. He tore his ACL and missed the 2004 season, and also has had to battle diabetes. Nevertheless, he has held his head high and now will get a chance to protect QB Ben Roethlisberger and open holes for running backs such as Willie Parker.
As far as playing with diabetes, he already has played a few seasons with it, including the 2003 year when it was found before the season that he had the disease. He started all 16 games for the Steelers that season. “You’ll still have those ups and downs, that’s part of the disease I have,” Simmons said. “You can’t whip it, that’s not going to happen, but you have to know how to adjust quickly when things happen. Every year I get better at that. “I’ll be fine. I just stay on top of it. That will not be a problem.”
The one thing that is interesting is that Simmons is one of the teams offensive lineman whose contract is up after 2007 and he can enter free agency in 08. The Steelers will not work on contracts now, as it was announced that dealings with players were done once they reached a new extension with safety Troy Polamalu. With that, Simmons is a good soldier who deserves a new deal down the road. His 2007 season will go a long way in the Steelers deciding how much Simmons is worth in the offseason.
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