View Full Version : 2008 Steelers OTA's thread

05-21-2008, 03:58 PM
For those who wanted changes on the offensive line, Tuesday was the day. Because of injuries and absences, the Steelers used only one of last year's first-team starters in his same position.

Willie Colon lined up at right tackle, but Darnell Stapleton started at right guard and Sean Mahan started at left guard. Free-agent acquisition Justin Hartwig opened at center. Max Starks was the left tackle. Guards Kendall Simmons and Chris Kemoteatu were on the sideline nursing minor injuries while left tackle Marvel Smith was tending to a personal issue. The second-team line, from left to right, was Jason Capizzi, Mahan/Trai Essex, Hartwig, Stapleton, and Jeremy Parquet.

The receiving corps also missed most of its key players. Hines Ward returned, but Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes were out, replaced by Dallas Baker and Willie Reid. Baker, in particular, had a strong practice.
TE Matt Spaeth may have made the best catch of the practice, going high to snare a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the back of the end zone. The best catch by a defensive player was made by rookie safety Ryan Mundy, who dove to intercept an overthrown Charlie Batch pass.

The top defensive play might've been made by undrafted rookie cornerback Travis Williams, who broke up a deep pass intended for Reid.

By unanimous decree, the top catch on special teams was made by nose tackle Chris Hoke, who made a running, over-the-shoulder catch of a pass off a fake field goal. First-round pick Rashard Mendenhall remains sidelined by a hamstring injury. Also on the injury front, defensive end Ryan McBean is out of his boot and off crutches, but remained sidelined by a stress fracture in his foot.

Mike Tomlin, post-practice press conference:

Excited to be here today. Really, what we did today was get started in the final phase of our offseason program, if you will. March 17 started the physical conditioning. We had two Organized Team Activity days prior to the draft, a two-practice block there. We had a five-practice block with minicamp following the draft. And then we go into what is the final phase of our offseason, which is a 12-practice block, three a week over the course of the next month. Enthusiasm was awesome today, a little rust from our last time but that’s to be expected. We’ll continue to move forward. I’ll answer any questions at this time.

Q: When do you get some of the rookies, who weren’t here, in?
A: Those guys who go quarter schools, they really can’t come back until their schools are done.

Q: So you might not get them at all? A guy like Bruce Davis?
A: You could very well get very little of that guy, very similar to the Santonio Holmes situation when he came out of Ohio State. It’s an agreement we have with the NCAA, one we respect, so unfortunate for them but it’s just short-term misery. I’m sure they’ll be prepared to catch up.

Q: Who besides Davis has to wait for their graduating class to finish school?
A: Roy [Lewis], the corner from Washington, and Bruce Davis are the two guys.

Q: How are the guys coming off injuries?
A: So far so good. We’ll take it day to day. Of course, we’re erring on the side of caution in some instances like Hines Ward, Aaron Smith. Of course Troy [Polamalu]’s not practicing. He’s just rehabbing. So far so good. The truth about those things is you don’t know until they go out and play football. The guy’s are progressing well; they feel good about where they are. It’s good to have them back in some capacity or another, but we’ll see.

Q: How’s Rashard Mendenhall?
A: He’s doing good. Very similar situation to the veteran players we were just talking about. We’re probably erring on the side of caution because what we don’t want to do is have a short-term issue become a long-term issue.

Q: Why wasn’t Marvel Smith here?
A: He’s got a personal situation and we’re letting him address that. It’s day to day. We’ll see how it sorts out.

Q: How does missing these practices affect them?
A: It doesn’t at all, to be honest with you. I’m not going to get into attendance and why guys are here and why guys aren’t here. It’s funny how mandatory voluntary workouts become. I tend to focus on the guys that are here and be excited about coaching them and getting better that way. If you show up, you’ve got a chance to get better. We’re going to have open arms welcoming these guys. For the most part we’ve got great team camaraderie. We’ve got a vast majority of our guys working. I’m not going to worry about the few guys who, for whatever reason – legitimate or otherwise – aren’t here. I’m not going to get into that. It’s not that time of year.

Q: How is Chris Kemoeatu progressing?
A: As I get to know him, at least personally, he has a better understanding of what’s going on. He doesn’t do a great job of expressing it. He doesn’t talk a bunch. But he doesn’t make mistakes. Really, [offensive line coach] Larry [Zierlein] is probably in the same comfort zone as I am, just from that standpoint. Just because a guy isn’t verbal or a guy doesn’t express what it is he does doesn’t mean that he’s not capable of doing it. The more you watch him the more you realize he doesn’t make mistakes. He knows what’s going on. Of course, he’s a big, powerful man.

Q: Coach, because I’m required to by my newsroom, I’m asking everybody in the city about the Penguins. You’ve been to a number of games, what do you think about what they’re doing and what does it mean?
A: It’s awesome. I’m like any other emerging hockey fan. My boys and I enjoy going to the games. They’ve got the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup and I’m excited like everybody else is in Western PA.

Q: Aaron Smith dressed. Did he practice?
A: He worked in some capacity. He did basically individual [work].

Q: Mike, do you concern yourself at all with what the owners did with the CBA? What might happen over the next couple of years?
A: To me, from my perspective, it seems like they’re just probably bringing it to a head. I don’t think anybody wants a work stoppage, owners and players. But I tend to focus on the 53 that I coach. I’ll let them handle that.

Q: Is Aaron fully recovered from his biceps injury?
A: I wouldn’t call him fully recovered. We’re being cautious but he is progressing. He’s hitting the sled, participating in individual. He’s chopping at the bit, if you know Aaron, but we’ll exercise a little caution.

Q: How about Willie Parker?
A: Willie’s taking reps, but if you ask him he’s probably a little less than 100 percent.

Q: And Hines Ward’s return. Did he go through the whole practice?
A: He did but we’re cautious about the number of reps. We rep-counted him a little bit, but that’s part of it.

Q: Is Chris Hoke emerging as a tight end candidate?
A: Not hardly. Not hardly. That’s his five minutes of fame, if you will.

Q: What’s Chris Kemoeatu’s injury? A: He tweaked his hammy in the conditioning program last week or two weeks ago and he’s just marching his way back.


K Train
05-21-2008, 04:02 PM
NOT what i had in mind for the oline lol

05-21-2008, 04:05 PM
That's about the most discombobulated offensive line I've ever seen :lol:

I like that Dallas Baker is looking good early on, I hope he can make the team and fight for a roster spot behind the starting 4.

05-21-2008, 04:08 PM
Might as well get a feel for certain lineups now, just in case we have to resort to shuffling again (injuries). Hopefully our starters can stay healthy this year and we get more stability week to week.

05-21-2008, 04:19 PM
good post man...i was looking for some news from the OTA front. I'm sure Mr.T wants to get a look at some of these guys also, so i'm sure there will be all kinds of goofy combinations goin on.

05-21-2008, 08:50 PM
Im really anxious to see Bruce Davis get with the team and start working..the more I read about this guy the more he could be prove to be a big steal in 3rd round.

05-21-2008, 09:34 PM
WHAT! Chris Hoke would definelty make an awesome tight end hahahaha

05-22-2008, 12:05 AM
I like that Dallas Baker is looking good early on, I hope he can make the team and fight for a roster spot behind the starting 4.

Please wake up and make this happen, Dallas! I've got too many rookie cards to have you flop....LOL :cope:

05-22-2008, 01:24 AM
1. Santonio Holmes
2. Hines Ward
3. Limas Sweed
4. Nate Washington
5. Dallas Baker/Willie Reid

I'm liking our receiving core. I hope Baker gets some split time with Washington at the #4 spot. If Sweed develops into what hes expected to be, we should have one of the best groups of receivers in the league...

K Train
05-22-2008, 01:31 AM
if sweed turns out to be nasty our WRs are insane. Theres never been a slot guy like ward and santonio is nasty on the outside and i really like what nate brings to the table...but sweed has the ability to make them a special group

05-22-2008, 07:43 AM
great post! the o-line will be back soon:tt02:

05-22-2008, 10:50 AM
Thanks for the article.
Definitely not the way we want the "backups" to get reps, but it can only help in the long run. :cool:

05-24-2008, 12:14 PM
I asked one of my sources about Tony Hills, the rookie left tackle. The source was complimentary, but said Hills needs work on his techniques and probably won’t help the team until 2009.

“The guy who’ll amaze you,” the source said, “is Jason Capizzi.”

Capizzi is the 6-foot-9 tackle from IUP who played well at training camp last year as an undrafted rookie, but was cut, drifted to a couple of different practice squads, and was reclaimed by the Steelers late in the season. My source said that the year has helped Capizzi with his understanding of his assignments. But I asked the source to expound on the “amaze you” part of the statement.

“Let me put it this way,” he said, “he might never play in this league, (pronounced pause) but he might.”

Willie Colon looked so good pulling right on one sweep that I had to watch the next rep closely just to see if he was playing guard. Nope. Colon was still at right tackle. He said he hasn’t played any guard this spring. He should.

Just a few random notes regarding our O-lineman. If Colon is not being considered to play guard this year, and Marvel Smith is back and healthy, I fail to understand why we are going to pay Max Starks almost 7 mil to be a second stringer???? Yet we wouldn't pay Faneca. :scratch: It just doesn't make a bit of sense. I thought Max might take back his RT spot and they might consider playing Willie at guard but that doesn't seem to be their intentions. While depth at tackle is definitely important, most teams usually don't make a second string player their highest paid!

K Train
05-24-2008, 12:20 PM

Iron City South
05-24-2008, 01:34 PM
"Patchwork" repairs

..... it's going to bite us in the *** this year .... just watch.

05-24-2008, 03:14 PM
Considering Marvel is in the last year of his deal, Essex in unproven, no guarantee they'll be able to retain Starks past this year. Right now the only Tackle on the roster besides the rookie Hills, is Colon. It's going to be an open competition for the RT spot the rest of the summer and through training camp. Had they let Starks walk, and Marvel being in the last year of his deal they'd have nobody to back up Tackle except Hills who we all realize is a project for his first year but I look for him to challenge for the LT spot in 2009.

They are screwed with Starks now. They are stuck with that 7 million cap figure unless they resign him. He's got the upper hand now.

K Train
05-24-2008, 03:20 PM
hills is a franchise LT in the making...he will push hard for that spot in 09 and i do think we'll get a deal done with starks

05-27-2008, 09:12 AM
hills is a franchise LT in the making...he will push hard for that spot in 09 and i do think we'll get a deal done with starks

His main problem will be staying healthy. If he didn't have the injuries during his career he'd have probably been 2nd round pick so yeah he's got the potential to be solid for us but he needs to prove he can stay on the field. He's definitely got the size and physical tools.

Im thinking Starks deal gets done just before or during training camp, similar to what they've done in the past with other veterans.

K Train
05-27-2008, 12:15 PM
i guarantee hills was a top 10 pick if he stayed healthy....im telling you i think we got a steal

05-27-2008, 03:48 PM
True. I don't know about Top-10, but yeah we got a steal.

K Train
05-27-2008, 03:55 PM
he had a terrible knee injury in high school but that 100% now, he broke his fibula in college which really isnt an injury that makes you question his durability or ability to recover cause yeah its a broken bone but its a baby one to recover from, he knee held up in college and thats what really matters imo. Hes gonna be a good pro

05-27-2008, 03:58 PM
Yeah. When we drafted him, I was thinking Marvel Smith re-incarnate (the good version of Marvel, not the back plagued one.)

K Train
05-27-2008, 04:03 PM
he puts on like 15 pounds and he might as well be a clone

05-29-2008, 08:08 AM
Please protect Ben:bengalssign::bengalssign:

05-31-2008, 06:50 PM
Such an interesting practice, so let’s take it in chronological order.

First of all, the Catch of the Day was made early by running back Mewelde Moore in red zone work. He slipped out of the backfield and had to spin back at the front pylon to catch Ben Roethlisberger’s pass. Moore has been a great addition. He looks so much like Kevin Faulk that I wonder if Kevin Colbert has been taping walk-throughs. Just kidding.
Anyway, a couple of plays later, Dallas Baker snagged a high pass on the run in the back of the end zone from Charlie Batch for first runner-up. The 6-foot-3 Baker continues his fine second spring.

In the next phase of work, the 7-on-7 passing drill, Roethlisberger started exactly as he had the previous day’s session: with an interception to a linebacker. This time it was Keyaron Fox who made the pick. Other plays of note: Jeremy Bloom dove to catch a deep out from Charlie Batch and Lawrence Timmons intercepted a Jared Zabransky checkdown for an interception.

The team scrimmage was more run-oriented. Gary Russell looked like a speedy truck taking a handoff up the middle and then bouncing it outside. His added 10 pounds are going to help and it doesn’t appear as if he’s lost any speed. Speaking of runaway big men, Limas Sweed took a wide receiver screen in a play I hope to see again and again.

There was a bit – a bit, now – of a scare when Roethlisberger came out of a fumbled snap shaking his hand in pain. Good thing the TV stations were all parked at Mellon Arena, but Ben came back the next play with a beautiful deep ball to Willie Reid. It was broken up at the last second by undrafted rookie Travis Williams. That kid – from East Carolina – keeps coming up in these spring reports. He might be someone to keep an eye on.

On the next and final play, Roethlisberger faked a handoff to fullback Carey Davis and instead handed the ball to 14-year-old Akeem Havens on a draw. Havens went for a touchdown as the team cheered the boy to end practice on an up note.

After practice, the Steelers worked out California University (Division II) punter Jace Amore and Waynesburg University (Division III) defensive end Mike Czerwien.

Czerwien is a 5-foot-8, 225-pounder who led all NCAA divisions last season with 23 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss. The North Hills High School graduate set an NCAA all-division record with a career total of 53.5 sacks at Waynesburg. Czerwien was the Presidents Athletic Conference Player of the Year last season and was named first-team all-conference for the fourth time.
Amore, from Elizabeth-Forward High School, averaged 40.1 yards per punt and was named to the PSAC West first team last season. He kicked at Cal for two seasons after transferring from Temple.

By Jim Wexell
Posted May 30, 2008


Black@Gold Forever32
05-31-2008, 08:15 PM
When Moore was signed...I made the comparison to Keven Faulk....So its sounds that Moore is impressing and very well will be a bail out receiver for Ben......Faulk has been huge for Brady for years now.....I like what I'm hearing about Dallas Baker....I think he will make the roster.....The Steelers will have nice depth at WR......Sounds like Gary Russell is impressing and has added weight.....Maybe he will be the 4th RB and serve as the backup FB....As for Sweed....He is going to be a player and has a great attitude....All he needs to do is learn the play-book and the get the timing of the NFL down.....After that the kid could be a star....

05-31-2008, 11:20 PM
Wow that Czerwien kid is a sack machine :eyecrazy: , he'll have a tough time making the team if the Rooney's want to pursue him but he could have a bright future for somebody if he gets the chance.

Carey Davis packing on 10 more pounds should really help his blocking for us; unless Kreider re-signs as the 2nd FB for 2008 Davis will be the main dude asked to carry the load. So far he seems to be using this offseason very wisely and hopefully that pays dividends for us when the season gets under way.

I just can't wait to see Sweet out there on the field with Holmes, Ward, and Nate..and then add Heath into the mix and the defense will have it's work cut out for them.

06-05-2008, 01:50 PM
Mike Tomlin had to get a little loud Wednesday at OTAs as a couple of minor scrimmashes broke out between players following plays.

The first involved right tackle Willie Colon – who else - and a defensive lineman who I believe was Nick Eason.

A couple of plays later, tackle Trai Essex – Trai Essex? – got into a scuffle with another defensive lineman.

Tomlin yelled at the players to stop with the stupid $#&^.

After practice, he held a lengthy huddle, talking to the players about how important it was for them in this third week with just one week remaining not to lose their focus.

© The Steelers had a welcome sight on their offensive line as Marvel Smith was back at his left tackle position. That left the line at, from left to right, Smith, Chris Kemoeatu, Sean Mahan, Kendall Simmons and the aforementioned Colon.

© Larry Foote sat out Wednesday with a stiff neck, allowing second-year pro Lawrence Timmons to take all the snaps with the first team at inside linebacker.

I like Foote a lot, but a stiff neck wouldn't keep me out at this point with the kid breathing down it.

© Rookie Rashard Mendenhall looks strong and fast running with ball. I'm anxious to see how the kid breaks tackles, something starter Willie Parker doesn't do all that well.

Parker, by the way, sat out Wednesday, though it's no big deal.

© The Steelers have a bunch of undrafted rookie defensive linemen in camp and the one they seem to be taking the biggest liking to is Kyle Clement. But it's very early and the hitting hasn't started yet.

Rookie Rashard Mendenhall looks strong and fast running with ball. I'm anxious to see how the kid breaks tackles, something starter Willie Parker doesn't do all that well.

Mendenhall is going to be a beast!!

06-05-2008, 04:00 PM
I think he will be but don't judge anything by OTA's.

06-05-2008, 05:24 PM
I think he will be but don't judge anything by OTA's.

Hey, thanks for the astute advice! :yellowthumb:

I wasn't here @ SA for the draft but if I had been you would have been reading my thoughts that Mendenhall was a beast, an almost perfect fit for this system.

I would have also told you that Mendenhall will relegate FWP to 1B on the depth chart fairly quickly and Mendenhall's performance won't leave much room for Steelers fans to gripe when that does happen.

I'm with you on the belief that depth charts are not solidified in June. :redcool:

06-05-2008, 05:37 PM
Hey man, no need to get snarky.

And there have already been discussions on when Mendenhall will relegate Willie to the bench. It has been mostly mixed opinions on that matter. I, along with ICS and some others that I can't remember, were of the thought that Mendenhall will be the actual starter by next season, if not earlier.

06-06-2008, 10:23 AM
Sry, Rockers, just having a lil fun is all. Marley say chill mon.

I've been meaning to go through the archives to get a better feel for what SA is about...but I keep getting distracted by this kickaxe hair band thread (http://www.steeleraddicts.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12703)!

Back on topic:

Wexell is reporting on his 'insider' site that Big Snack Casey Hampton was missing from the latest OTA and if you assumed he was off getting personal attention for his waist line issues you might be right.

We've all seen the beer pong pictures from the NHL playoffs. Did Tomlin banish Fat Casey?

J. Harrison was also missing and his sub @ ROLB was Timmons.

Timmons is going to end up playing inside and outside LB as well as some safety (troy p) type roles this season. Ability like that is worth #15.

Ike Taylor, Lamar Woodley, Carey Davis and Bryant McFad all played kick off coverage team.

Those first 3 are starters and McFad could/should come out of this camp as a starter.

06-06-2008, 05:06 PM
Sry, Rockers, just having a lil fun is all. Marley say chill mon.

It's all good man.

06-07-2008, 02:07 AM
i agree on sweed, i really think he can be special with this group of recievers. his size is what makes him special, i know he never had a real breakout year at texas, but with his size, paired with holmes and ward, they can be a special recieving corp. i think also his size will be perfect as a big target for big ben.

06-07-2008, 08:01 AM
Question, can you use the word "special" any more?

And Sweed had a pretty good Junior campaign.

06-07-2008, 03:05 PM
Pleased with their progress
Friday, June 6, 2008
By Teresa Varley Steelers.com

The Steelers have just three more practices before OTAs come to an end next week and head coach Mike Tomlin is pleased with the progress to date. “They are going well,” said Tomlin after Thursday’s session. “We are having a productive off-season and that is what we are here for. We are here to get better individually and collectively and I think we are doing that.” Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who admitted he is looking forward to the offseason program coming to an end so they get time to rest before training camp starts in late July, is also happy with the way things have gone “We’re having a good time,” said Tomlin. “I think we are doing well. We are learning and getting better.”

* * *

Guard Chris Kemoeatu has a real challenge ahead of him – and it’s not just a battle for a starting spot on the offensive line, but instead taking over for seven-time Pro Bowler Alan Faneca. Kemoeatu seems to have the inside track on the job, as long as he plays to the level all think he can. But the one thing he has to beware of is trying to do too much as he works to replace Faneca. “The biggest thing is he doesn’t come in and try to fill Alan’s shoes,” said Roethlisberger. “That’s not the way you do it. You don’t try and fill someone’s shoes. You come in and do what you do. Chris is a great offensive lineman and I think he is going to do great. I have a lot of confidence in him. I know he has confidence in himself. “Kemoeatu, who was hampered some during OTAs with a hamstring injury, has been praised by teammates and coaches for his knowledge and the few errors he makes. “As I get to know him he has a better understanding of what is going on,” said Tomlin. “He doesn’t make mistakes. The more you watch him the more you realize he doesn’t make mistakes. He knows what is going on. He is a big, powerful man.” He isn’t a big talker but instead someone who likes to let his actions speak louder than his words. "All I can do is come to work every day, watch film and practice to the best of my ability and just try to be me,” said Kemoeatu.

* * *

Having gone through OTAs and off-season workouts Roethlisberger has a better understanding of Bruce Arians’ offense, but that doesn’t mean things will be perfect. Roethlisberger said he expects less sacks this year, after getting tackled 47 times last year, but they won’t be eliminated. "I'm still going to get (sacked), because I'm still going to try to scramble and make plays," said Roethlisberger. "You look at all the big plays we've made, and then you take the sacks. You kind of have to live with it."

* * *

Rookie Limas Sweed got some work on special teams during OTAs where the coaches think he can be an asset because of his size, speed and long arms. "Coach (Bob Ligashesky) said he likes me coming off the edge, using my speed to block punts," said Sweed. "I never did special teams in my life until I came here, and I actually like it."