Friday, September 01, 2006
A Perfect Pre-Season Ending: Some Questions Answered
(The Burgh – September 1, 2006) – Well, the pre-season is now behind us and the Steelers finished with a perfect record. Unfortunately, the perfect mark appeared in the wrong column and the Steelers finished their first pre-season since 1987 without a single victory. Not that it really matters.
Going into last night’s game, we knew that most of the starters would not be playing. And a few players had a lot more than the outcome of a pre-season game riding on last night’s individual performances.
Some of the questions answered last night included:
Who will start at free safety?
Ryan Clark played a solid game, while Tyrone Carter was badly burned early in the game in a play that nearly ended in a TD and then topped that by making the bonhead penalty on 4th and long at the end of the game - a play that should have resulted in the Steelers getting the ball back, but instead resulted in a 1st and 10 for Carolina on their way to the game-winning FG. Anthony Smith made some good plays as he has throughout the pre-season, but the kid is still in the learning phase. End of story. The starter will be Ryan Clark.
Does Duce Staley make the team?
The safe call is yes. Remember, this is a guy a year ago who did not complain about letting the Bus shine in short yardage and goal line situations Althogh, Duce seems to love collecting the paycheck without busting his fat ass. And Cowher, being a man of honor, will most likely reward Staley with a spot on the 53 man roste for not rocking the boat last year a la T.O. or Keyshawn “give me the damn ball” Johnson. But, if we just look at Duce’s performance this pre-season (last night was his "best" in 4 games: 19 times for 46 yards), the answer should be cut the bum. John Kuhn has emerged as a decent backup to Dan Krieder and he seems to have a knack for running over defenders and finding yards around the corners (although he did fumble the ball). Cedric Humes looks like he has a ways to go, but he does have potential, which he showed us by scoring the Steelers only TD last night on a pretty walk up the middle into the end zone.
Do we need three QBs?
Sure. Look at the last couple of years. The #3 QB has been called into duty during the regular season, and if history repeats itself, the #3 QB will most likely see some snaps this year. So, with that being said, Omar Jacobs should also make the roster. After putting up his best performance to date, including a perfectly thrown ball to Walter Young for a 46 yard gain in the 4th quarter, this kid has matured enough in the last 4 weeks to make the team.
Do we need three Centers?
If you asked us two weeks ago, the answer would have been “absolutely”. But the superfreak, backup Center Chukky Okobi, has apparently miraculously healed from a potentially career-ending neck injury and subsequent surgery. Did you see him play last night? Unbelievable. This is all we needed to see to know that the roster spot originally meant for Marvin Phillip will be instead given to a special teams stud like Sean Morey or Chidi Iwouma. If Phillip doesn’t get picked up by another team (most likely the Cleveland Browns), he will be added to the practice squad.
Who is the #3 CB?
Even after being in the right place to recover two fumbles, Ricardo Coclough proved he is not mature enough to have earned the #3 CB, a job which will be kept by Bryan McFadden. Coclough committed two bonehead plays – including spiking a potentially live ball after a decent punt return and being suckered into what appeared to be a clock-stopping spike the ball play by Carolina, but instead turned into a nice 20 yard gain that put the Panthers into easy FG position with :04 left in the game. These two mistakes are inexcusable and will hopefully not be repeated during the regular season. As a result, Coclough, who was supposedly challenging McFadden for the #3 spot, will remain the #4 CB.