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    Will the real Willie Reid step forward....

    LATROBE - There's more to the game in the defensive secondary than bone-jarring hits, rough-and-rugged coverage and general playmaking ability.
    There has to be. How else to explain the second-team status of Anthony Smith and Bryant McFadden?

    Once again, the two physical defensive backs will start the preseason on the bench and will watch Ryan Clark at free safety and Deshea Townsend at right cornerback in the first quarter of Sunday's Hall of Fame Game.

    Those are the two defensive positions up for grabs once again this season. But even though the coach has changed, the older veterans have kept their grasp on the starting positions.

    "It's not necessarily about what they are potentially capable of," Coach Mike Tomlin explained. "It's about what they are on a day-to-day basis. These guys (Townsend and Clark) are extremely consistent. They're very smart. They're very competent. You know what you're going to get from them. That's very attractive. They're rock-solid guys. They don't ride the emotional roller coaster. There's not a roller coaster in terms of their level of play. You know what you're getting. From a coach's standpoint, that's very attractive, particularly from a secondary coach's perspective."

    Of course, all is not lost for Smith and McFadden. The former first-day draft picks are expected to run with the first team in alternating preseason games, just as they have in practice.

    "Those guys are competing," Tomlin said. "They're well aware of that, but again a lot of those decisions as we move forward will be based on performance. So there's potential for that, but we'll see."

    Return man and his blocker

    A recent development in NFL return games has been the use of one quick return man and a blocking back deep.

    That's the way the Steelers will line up Sunday. Willie Reid, one of the most impressive young players at camp, will return both punts and kickoffs. He'll be joined on kickoffs by Najeh Davenport or Carey Davis. Rookie Gary Russell also will fit into the role later in the game.

    "Essentially there's one deep," Tomlin said. "There's another guy back there, but you don't want him to get the ball. You just want him to lead the way. There's one and a half, if you will, in terms of guys deep."

    It's unlikely that Santonio Holmes will return kicks. He'll have enough on his plate as a receiver.

    "It really depends on his level of conditioning," Tomlin said. "We'd like to give him a lot of work, but not at the expense of a potential health risk because of a lack of conditioning. He's going to be one of those guys who we'll evaluate as we go and see where he's at."

    Snelly and Goo

    Look for plenty of Arnold "Snelly" Harrison and Rian "Goo" Wallace on the field Sunday night. Because of injuries, both players will work at both inside and outside linebacker.

    "You give them multiple positions so you're not handcuffed by position needs when you're filling out your roster," Tomlin said. "They're trying to find a seat on the bus and they're willing to do whatever it is to do that."

    Late Friday notes

    Center Sean Mahan left St. Vincent College for personal reasons Friday and is not expected to play in Sunday's game. He's expected to return next week to practice and will likely receive some first-team reps. ... The Steelers released linebacker Derek Rehage.
    Hopfully Reid Can stay Healthy.
    "It is hard to wait around for something that you know may never happen;but it's even harder to let go when it's everything you want"
    -unknown

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    I'd just be glad to FINALLY see what this kid can do! We've been hearin about him for so long, but haven't gotten to see much of him!

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    "It's not necessarily about what they are potentially capable of," Coach Mike Tomlin explained. "It's about what they are on a day-to-day basis. These guys (Townsend and Clark) are extremely consistent. They're very smart. They're very competent. You know what you're going to get from them. That's very attractive. They're rock-solid guys. They don't ride the emotional roller coaster. There's not a roller coaster in terms of their level of play. You know what you're getting. From a coach's standpoint, that's very attractive, particularly from a secondary coach's perspective."
    The day that Smith and McFadden can show that consistency that Tomlin is looking for, is the day they'll be named starters, once they get that #1 billing they will have a strong hold on it. Reid will be awesome and make all our memories of last year disappear, but he's definitely got to stay healthy.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DIESELMAN View Post
    The day that Smith and McFadden can show that consistency that Tomlin is looking for, is the day they'll be named starters, once they get that #1 billing they will have a strong hold on it. Reid will be awesome and make all our memories of last year disappear, but he's definitely got to stay healthy.
    Not to mention how much Townsend should be gone but who do we got to step up and take his place right now?
    "It is hard to wait around for something that you know may never happen;but it's even harder to let go when it's everything you want"
    -unknown

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    The thing is though that whenever you put young guys in who you're counting on to be the future of your team at a certain position you're going to have growing pains. Those pains are only going to be eased and cured with on the field playing time. I understand Tomlin's point of view with Clark and Townsend, those guys are vets who know what they're doing. They are leaders on and off the field and know the defense very well.

    McFadden and Smith are the future though and sooner or later these guys are going to need to be on the field full time and we're going to have to live with some of the pains that young players go through. Ike was on the field, so was Polamalu, Chris Hope, just to name a few in the secondary. All these guys were on the field a lot at about the same time in their careers as Anthony and Bryant.

    Unless those 2 are really THAT bad or THAT inept, I want to see what they can do with the first team on a regular basis.

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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    I understand the growing pains.....But McFadden is in his third year now and has had playing time in the past....So he should be adjusted to the NFL game by now.......As for Smith he shined in brief action last year.......I just think these guys are more of the big play making type that this defense needs.....I hope both start.....I think in the long run it will help this team.....But its also nice to know if both of these young players do start and struggle that we have two solid vets like Clark/Townsend that can come in and hold the fort down until they're ready....

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    We have a very deep secondary right now, not many teams can say they've got veteran talent mixed in top notch young talent as well; any of whom could start. It's a blessing that we haven't always had but I really do think Smith and McFaddens' time is now so hopefully they show enough to win the jobs but if not the vets will be there.

    The entire secondary stunk last year so there's no where to go but up

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    Draft Pick manofsteel's Avatar
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    I think Willie Reid is going to raise alot of eyebrows. As far as Shea Shea goes they are right he is a solid seasoned vet but he is getting old its nice knowing a yound guy like McFadden is on the team though. You know injuries happen and he could be the future. Hey anybody know if Asante Samuel is still holding out? Id like to see us get our hands on that guy

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