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  1. #1
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Offensive Line could get face lift

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07153/791003-66.stm

    3 spots will be open when camp begins
    Saturday, June 02, 2007

    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



    Football can be a kid's game for the Steelers, especially in the offensive line where it has looked like musical chairs all spring.

    One minute, new center Sean Mahan plays guard and old guard Kendall Simmons will be at center. Max Starks, the starting right tackle the past two seasons, has taken snaps at left tackle, where Marvel Smith has made a Pro Bowl.

    Since left guard Alan Faneca has been absent all but three days this spring, Chris Kemoeatu has taken his place, but he really is competing to take Simmons' job at right guard. Willie Colon has run with the first team at right tackle this week, although it is still Starks' job to lose.

    Then there's Chukky Okobi. He has run with the first team all week at center in, perhaps, an all-or-nothing deal for him. It's possible either Okobi wins the starting center's job left vacant by the retirement of Jeff Hartings or be jettisoned to save his $2 million salary.

    There's more changes than having a new coach for the offensive line this fall.

    "A lot of things could happen," said Larry Zierlein, who took over for the departed Russ Grimm as line coach. "Nobody's going to lose their job in [the spring].

    "Whoever the starters are, they are, no matter where we're lining them up now. You're either going to gain or lose your job in the preseason. Where we're lining them up right now, really doesn't mean a whole lot."

    Zierlein announced two changes that will not happen; Smith will remain at left tackle and Alan Faneca at left guard. The other three spots are open.

    "There's a lot of jobs up for grabs in that line," coordinator Bruce Arians said.

    The key to it all is the center, as it always has been on this team. The Steelers have had, essentially, three starting centers since 1977, starting with Mike Webster, who became a full-time starter at the position that season. He made his first Pro Bowl after the 1978 season and went on to nine Pro Bowls. Dermontti Dawson succeeded him in 1989 and went to seven Pro Bowls. Hartings succeeded Dawson in 2001 and went to two.

    That's 18 Steelers centers in the past 30 Pro Bowls. That's a habit the Steelers would like not to break.

    "I think it will be a great challenge to whoever wins that job to uphold the traditions that have been set at that position," said Arians. "I won't say they can, I won't say they can't."

    Okobi, a Pittsburgh native, has spent his past six seasons as the heir apparent at center. But the Steelers made their only high-end outside signing in free agency a center, luring Mahan from Tampa Bay, where new coach Mike Tomlin once coached the secondary. Mahan also has started at guard, but he said he was brought here essentially to play center.

    Mahan and Okobi have split time at the position this spring, but, if Okobi does not win the job in training camp, he could be released, and the Steelers seem to be preparing for that outcome. They are teaching guard Kendall Simmons the position and last year carried rookie Marvin Philip as their third center. Also, Okobi's strongest supporter, Grimm, is coaching the offensive line in Arizona.

    Paying $2 million for a backup lineman is not something the Steelers usually do. But the Steelers also could lose three of their five current starters in the line who are in the last year of their contracts -- Faneca, Simmons and Starks.

    The Steelers have not talked to agent Joe Linta about Okobi possibly taking another pay cut, as he did last year, and Linta said they would not do it anyway.

    "I don't try to anticipate anything, honestly," Okobi said. "It's competition, so let's compete. If all things are fair, then I like my chances. If there are other circumstances, then I don't know. I can control what I can control, and let's go form there."

    Arians wants better pass protection from his line, in concert with blockers at the other positions and wide receivers running better "hot" routes on blitzes.

    "No, we were not as good a group as the year before," he said.
    This is the position on the field Im watching and anticipating the most during camp and preseason other than the LB's spots. We have 3 spaces available and a lot of guys all trying to nail down those positions. It's going to be awesome to watch. We've got enough talent here to make a solid starting OL to keep Ben upright and open holes for Willie; now it's just a matter of finding the right combination of people.

    I still think koopa's Chukkiwon is the odd man out here but we'll see. He's got his work cut out for him with Mahan, Simmons, and Philip all available to play Center. If he steps up to the challenge then that's great ! Mahan is getting starters money so he wasn't brought in the ride the bench. IMO he's the odds on favorite to be the next Center unless something crazy happens.

    Max needs to get on the ball because Colon is chomping at the bit for his spot, at this point I almost hope he gets it because Max is probably gone next year anyways. The job at RG might be the most contested position available with Mahan, Kemoeatu, & Simmons all looking at a chance for that job too. I can't wait to see who wins this competition, my only hope is that we have 5 guys that really step up and assert themselves and take the jobs, not just win them by default because everybody else can't do it.

  2. #2
    2nd String Blitzburghpete's Avatar
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    my best friend is a tampa fan and i've talked to him a lot about what Mahan brings. ( He wasn't particualarly sad to see him go ) Mahan does not excell at either Centre or Guard, and didn't for Tampa. I think he's been brought in as quality back up to both centre and guard in an astute move by the front office covering their backs considering hartings going and what's going on with Faneca.

    OL i think will be

    Starters 1st reserve
    LT Marvel Smith Willie Colon
    LG Alan Faneca Mahan
    C Chukki Mahan
    RG Simmons Kemo
    RT Starks Willie Colon

  3. #3
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    LT & LG are not up for grabs at this point; Marvel Smith & Faneca will be the starters.

    The Rooney's don't pay that much money to backups and sign them to a long term deal so they muse see something in Mahan that makes them think he's going to start at either Center or Guard so Im sure that is their plan going in at this point. Now if he totally flops then obviously they aren't going to just plug him in for the sake of doing it, but make no mistake that he's being paid a nice chunk of change to come in here and be a starter so unless he totally bombs out he'll bein the lineup come Sept. IMO.

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    GO STEELERS BRICKTOWN BEAST's Avatar
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    When I found out about Chris Kemoeatu I always thought he could be something he is huge and I always wanted to see him play and start.

    http://www.nfl.com/players/playerpage/414430

    LT Marvel Smith
    LG Alan Faneca (next year Chris Kemoeatu)
    C Sean Mahan
    RG Kendall Simmons
    RT Max Starks

    Willie Colon could jump at that RT spot as soon as Starks starts to slip.

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    I really want to see Kemoeatu get in there and take that job from Simmons at RG. At this point since Starks probably won't come back I'd like to see Colon jump in and take that job this year and run with it. Even if he doesn't though he'll be ready for it in 2008 when Starks leaves.

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    Chairman of the Board Iron City South's Avatar
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    I just want to see Kemoeatu knock Faneca on his *** during a 1 on 1 drill ... then I want to see him look down at Faneca and say, "Got anything else to cry about beyotch?"

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    Reppin' 724
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron City South View Post
    I just want to see Kemoeatu knock Faneca on his *** during a 1 on 1 drill ... then I want to see him look down at Faneca and say, "Got anything else to cry about beyotch?"
    Thatt'll never happen....keep dreamin...its about as possible as Global Warming...lol

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    Satan's Helper SteelersfaninPhilly's Avatar
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    Does not matter. Steelers need to groom Alan's replacement.


    http://americanat.blogspot.com/

    I'm blind, I'm deaf, I wanna be a ref! Get on your knees ref your blowing the game!





    Big thank you to pa state Daryl Metcalfe. For doing the right thing.







  9. #9
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelersfaninPhilly View Post
    Does not matter. Steelers need to groom Alan's replacement.
    I don't think that person is on the roster as of right now. Depending on how the OL shakes out when the season starts will go a long way to determining a possible replacement for Alan but at this point Im not sure the players we have will fit the bill for LG since most of them are engaged right now in trying so solidify other positions but we'll see

  10. #10
    Chairman of the Board Iron City South's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEEMONT View Post
    Thatt'll never happen....keep dreamin...its about as possible as Global Warming...lol
    If that's the case, I guess Faneca is already on his back somewhere.

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