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What Position Concerns You the Most?

With about two weeks to the opener, the Steelers continue to work as they get ready for their real final preseason test in Denver Sunday night (we all know no one will really play vs the Panthers a week from Thursday). With that, there are still question marks on the roster, and areas to talk about.

Here are some positions that people have expressed concern about. We’ll take a poll below on what area you think the team has the most question marks in.

Offensive Line – Things seemed in panic mode after Willie Colon was lost for the year, but then the team inked Flozell Adams. It was back to panic mode after the game against the Lions, but the team showed up nicely for the 2nd preseason game Saturday against a decent to good Giants team, and ran the ball well.

Right now the O-line looks like this: LT Starks, LG Kemoeatu, C Hartings (with Pouncey waiting in the wings), RG Essex, RT Adams.

I am not as concerned about the line as some people, as Ben will get sacked like always, but some are on him and others on the line. My concern if any would be run blocking, and they showed me a lot Saturday night. Let’s hope that continues.

Wide Receiver – Right now the starters are clearly Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, and Wallace showed again his speed on Saturday with a long TD catch from Byron Leftwich. It’s been a good competition in camp with rookies Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, and vet Antwaan Randel El coming back to the team. Arnaz Battle and Tyler Grisham add depth as well, and now that I’ve seen what Brown can do, and Wallace seems like the real deal, this position isn’t nearly as bad as people made it out to be earlier.

Cornerback – Here’s the spot that I have to admit scares me. Ike Taylor will line up at left corner, Bryant McFadden at right, and there’s a bunch of guys fighting for the backup spots. Let’s face it, Taylor is hit or miss, and while I like McFadden, he was awful for the Cardinals last year.

William Gay, Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett seem to be three guys in the mix, and Crezdon Butler a rookie is also a guy that the club would like to see step up. I know a lot of the secondary success will be measured by the pressure the front 7 puts on the QB, but late in games this unit needs to find a way to make plays, something they didn’t do in 2009.

Defensive Line – The team boats the experience and success of this unit, and while I agree with that, all three guys are 30+, and two of the last three seasons Aaron Smith has been hurt which has killed the teams run stopping ability. The one guy I am excited about it Evander Hood, aka Ziggy. He adds the youth this unit really needs, and it would be good to see him bring the heat late in games and give one of those vets a break.

Smith staying healthy is going to be key, as there is simply no question how much they have missed him in two of the last three seasons he’s been on the shelf.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. jay

    August 24, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    My vote is the o-line because although they have improved via both personnel and scheme (aka running more often and well-timed), there is still no prototypical, quick on his feet, edge protector or what Jamie Dukes refers to as “dancer” at LT (unless Tony Hills develops because he has shown signs of being quick and relentless), and there is also a hole at RG (Essex doesn’t seem to pass protect well)…I can’t remember the last time the Steelers had both a dominant offensive line and QB of BB’s caliber (when I was a child I remember Bradshaw and company)…This team would be nearly unstoppable with that combination…I mean we’ve gone fafr with lesser talented lines and QB’s, just think what would happen if we invested in a dominant LT or another interior OL. I hope I’m wrong about this unit. One thing I would like to see, at the risk of projecting past this season, is to see them move Willie Colon to RG and then extend his contract (it would be conceivably cheaper to move him to guard and then extend him than to extend him as a tackle and then move him)…the inside combination of Pouncey, Chris K and Willie C seems very good to me. Also, would like to see them develop either R. Foster or Tony Hills or rookie from Tenn Scott as a tackle…All this, in my opinion, is contingent upon whether or not they give Woodley the big contract…that seems to me to the biggest priority (plus I just bought his jersey!)!

  2. arrow61095

    August 25, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Without a doubt Cornerback. When Polamalu got hurt last year, it became painfully obvious that he was the only playmaker in the secondary (as they were completely futile in coverage when opponents went to the hurry up offense – usually at the end of games).
    The unit didn’t even have an interception till the end of the year last year and desparatelly needs an infusion of young talent. I think that Ike Taylor would make a good 2nd corner and McFadden would make a good Nickel back…….problem is they are #1 & #2, not #2 & #3. While the Steelers play a lot of zone and some of the other division’s receivers are getting older, no one can be happy about the divisional matchups…… (Ochocinco vs Taylor, T.O. vs McFadden)(Boldin vs Taylor, Mason vs McFadden)

  3. marie

    August 25, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Are you kidding me??? POUNCEY must start a center from day one! Did you see the holes he opened up? Hartwig is and always been the weak link up front..BTW, Mangold statred his first year..

  4. Eric

    August 25, 2010 at 7:53 am

    I wish we still had Hartings, but we have Hartwig and therefore Pouncey will be our starting center this year.

  5. DrGeorge

    August 25, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Insightful comments, all. We have a few holes on both sides of the ball, but they all look fixable to me.

    My vote on priorities always goes to the defense; our last two Super Bowls were won with defenses that were top ranked, even when the offense (including the line) was barely above average. If LeBeau can get pressure on the opposing QB, it will ease the pressure on our corners. The added speed at LB will help on the blitz packages. Burnett and Butler are learning and must develop quickly to help this year, and we will need help at CB. McFadden struggled not only last year with the Cardinals, but in pre-season this year. As last season demonstrated, ‘as the defense goes, so go the Steelers.’ If our defense is again in the top four or five, we’ll be fine.

    The O-line has problems, but for a change, we also have talent. Over all, the run blocking has improved. I’m not convinced that Essex and Adams can handle their assignments against top defensive lines. On the other hand, the second string O-line — Hills, Foster, Pouncey, Legursky, and J. Scott, with Urbik substituting at G — executed as well as any Steelers O-line in recent memory against the Giant’s second team defense. They work well as a unit. The team scored twice in the second half and just blew the Giant’s line off the ball. And Dixon passed just enough to keep the defense honest, and the running game held our 7-point lead.

    That tells me that Sean Kugler, our new O-line coach, knows what he’s doing. If the first string players can’t execute, he’s got some backup talent to plug in. Pouncey at Center is a given; that’s going to happen. Legursky, J. Scott, and Foster could all start on many other teams, and they look better than Essex and Adams now. I’ve been impatient in past comments about Tony Hills’ development at OT, but he finally seems to have his act together too. Bottom line: I trust Kugler to get the O-line situation straightened out.

    No one mentioned special teams, but the return coverage still has me concerned. The Giants had lengthy run-backs against us. Only a fine tackle by Sepulveda (he played LB at Baylor) saved a sure TD. Part of the problem lies with the kickoff; neither Sepulveda nor Reed has the range to hit the end zone consistently. The rest has to do with men getting out of their lane, probably due to being overly aggressive, rather than lacking discipline. Special teams play has hampered the Steelers for years and given opposing offenses a short field to work with on too many occasions. Al Everett, the spec. team’s coach, hasn’t got the problem in hand yet. Any hope of making it deep into the playoffs depends on improving this unit.

  6. mark

    August 25, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    If Pouncey starts at center,why not move Hartwig to G in place of Essex? Is that feasible? I just dont like Essex as a starter. Filling in 1 or 2 games in fine, but not a starter for 16. As for Adams,I can see him getting the starting nod early on, but he will get pushed for playing time from any one of the back-up T’s on the roster (Hills?). He may be sitting by week 8 if he isnt holding his own against the younger DE/OLB that are coming his way.DrGeorge,I too was concerned about the ST coverage units. It looked very similar to what we saw last year. Not good! I thought the return unit looked pretty good though.CB might be feast or famine this season. If the youngsters can get on the field and make an impact, then the unit will be good. If there is a dependancy on Taylor/McFadden/Gay to carry the load,it could be a struggle to get the defense off the field on the 3rd downs.I would love to see Burnett/Lewis/Butler get a chance to go against some of the starters in the league. Lets see what they got? Lastly, how does Mendenhall/Redman/Moore at RB and Summers at FB sound? I like it!

  7. Jay

    August 26, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Good, Mark except Summers “whiffs” on his blocking assignments regularly from what I’ve seen.

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