Speed with Brains Speed with Brains Speed with Brains
Then were good
Speed with Brains Speed with Brains Speed with Brains
Then were good
Archer No Rainey
With the end of minicamp today, there is so much stuff to talk about:
--- This time, the Steelers really, truely, honest-to-goodness plan to run more no-huddle offense. That promise has been made so many times throughout Ben Roethlisberger’s career that those saying it sounded like the little boy who cried “Wolf!” Yet they’ve spent so much time on it this spring and they’ve privately assured people they do plan to run it more because it was so successful last season. Of course, plans can go awry – remember the zone blocking schemes they worked on so much last spring went right out the window after the first series.
--- It brings to mind a funny incident from training camp years ago that ties in with one more Chuck Noll memory. Other teams were adopting the shotgun formation more and more in the 1980s but Noll refused to use it, even though his quarterback, Bubby Brister, wanted to do so. After his retirement, Jack Lambert worked briefly for a local TV station and he broke the “news” before one camp that Noll finally planned to employ the shotgun. It never happened that year.
So it was a running joke. Then one camp, Saint Vincent was hit with a bunch of skunks suffering from distemper. One was seen running around in circles near the practice field one day and, before practice, a cop shot it with a .22 rifle. One of us wondered why the cop did not kill it with a shotgun. Jim Kriek, the wry old late sports editor of the Connellsville Courier quickly responded, “Because Chuck won’t allow the shotgun in training camp!”
--- Back to the present. Many people assume that Kelvin Beachum won’t last at left tackle, that someone, perhaps Mike Adams, will eventually go there. Why, because Beachum weighs just 300 or he was a seventh-round draft pick? Beachum has a LOT going for him, and maybe those two things are among them. He uses technique the way another former Steelers tackle did, one Tunch Ilkin and, in fact, takes lessons from Ilkin on using his hands. At 6-3, 300 he is not the prototypical left tackle who often go 6-6, 330 but good hands and feet and leverage can make up for that and that is the case with Beachum. I like his chances of not only remaining at left tackle, but of playing well out there.
--- Beachum started 54 games at left tackle at SMU. He also gave the commencement address to SMU’s 2012 graduates of the school of education and human development. He earned his degree in economics and his masters in liberal studies. This is one smart cookie who also knows how to use that intelligence to good use when playing left tackle.
--- We have been told to expect mistakes because the Steelers are so young on defense, but what was going on last season when they were gouged for all those plays of half a football field and more?
--- Mike Prisuta of WDVE asked Ben Roethlisberger a good regarding Dri Archer yesterday: Would the Steelers force-feed him into the lineup the way they tried and failed with Chris Rainey?
“I think we can try to do some different things with him,’’ Roethlisberger said. “Split him out a little bit -- like every other day he’s working with the receivers. I think it’s just having a good plan.
“We’re not going to force this thing. We’re not going say ‘OK, he’s in the game, we’re going to run sweeps and scat stuff.’ He’s going to run between the tackles and as coach always jokes put his big boy pads on. He’s going to have to step up into the line and pick up a blitzing linebacker too. We expect him to do the same thing we ask he other guys to do.”
--- Archer is a more solidly built, better version of Rainey, by the way.
--- Roethlisberger on the Steelers new, young, fast defense:
“I talked to Troy yesterday and I told him, this is a fast defense. It may not have a lot of names people know but they’re flying around and it’s fun to watch. It’s tough to go against every day out there but it’s going to be fun to watch on Sundays.”
--- I’ve taken a few elbows to the ribs from some old high school chums that in my bio that appeared in the Post-Gazette this week, there was no mention that I was a proud graduate of Lebanon Catholic High School ’69. I grew up in the small Lebanon County town of Cornwall, Pa., after moving from Massachusetts as a youngster.
--- After today, I will have off until the week before training camp. Ray will handle much of the blog until then but remember this is a dark period in pro football when most everyone takes, as they say in Europe, a holiday. We’ll pick it back up with zesto in camp.
--- Thank you to those who sent all the kind notes to me over the past day. It has been a bit overwhelming but fun to hear from you.
--- What, just one Ask Ed today?
YOU: Do you think that Shazier is going to be like Carnell Lake, drafted as a linebacker but used as a safety?
ED: Ryan Shazier will play linebacker this year. Does he have the speed and ability to play strong safety? Yes, he does. I believe he could make that transition if the Steelers wanted him to do it, but let’s see how he does at inside linebacker first. Like Troy Polamalu, he could change the way his position is played.
Spring “rocky” for second-round pick Stephon Tuitt
The Steelers used a second-round draft choice on Stephon Tuitt and minutes after he was selected defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said Tuitt would add quality depth, if not start as a rookie.
The same thing was said about first-round pick Ryan Shazier, only the coaches treated the first two picks in a much different manner this spring. Shazier lined up with the starters on the first day of spring practices and stayed there until the end of the minicamp Thursday. He’ll be there again when the team reports to training camp next month.
Tuitt played on the second team behind free agent addition Cam Thomas all spring. And while there is plenty of time for him to earn a starting job in training camp, it’s clear he’ll have to a good July and August to unseat Thomas.
Traditionally, defensive linemen have a harder time learning the defense than any other position. Aaron Smith, who is regarded as one of the finest 3-4 ends on franchise history, only dressed for six games as a rookie and started none. Cam Heyward, the 2011 first-round draft pick, didn’t earn a starting job until midway through his third NFL season last year.
Tuitt has been in possession of the playbook for a little more than a month and he’s nowhere near comfortable.
“It’s rocky,” he said with a laugh. “But I’ve been in this system now for a couple of weeks and I’m understanding the playbook and understanding my role and understanding the system.”
If Tuitt doesn’t make a big leap at training camp, Thomas could be the starter for the first game against the Browns. He played every defensive line position for the Chargers the past few years and while he still isn’t completely comfortable with his surroundings he’s in a better place than Tuitt.
“I’m just ready for the pads to come on and for the season to start,” Thomas said. “Everything feels good. There’s nothing unique about it. It’s just playing football every day.”
Thomas played most nose tackle for the Chargers last season, but he has experience at end.
Eventually, the Steelers envision Thomas as a swing player in the mold of Al Woods, who left in free agency to sign with Tennessee.
But in the short term he could end up starting while Tuitt learns the ropes.
“Cam doesn’t have to learn a lot,” defensive line coach John Mitchell said. “At San Diego he played inside and outside. Cam is a guy that is going to give us a few options. He can play the five technique or the three technique. At San Diego he played inside as a one technique and a three technique. We will start him off as an end. He gives us a lot of flexibility.”
On a scale of one to ten.....it seems Thomas is a 7 and Tuiit is a 4.
"I want to hit cha and hurt cha." Jack Lambert
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