We are halfway through the preseason and it would appear that although some questions have been answered, we have now have two categories of questions still remaining. Those that existed at the beginning of the season that are still unanswered and those that have crept up since the preseason started.© 2010 Steelers Universe
There is so much pre-camp roster analysis out there but the truth is you never know what is going to happen once the players strap on pads and you never can overestimate or truly gauge a players heart and his determination to make the roster.
Let’s look at those positional questions preseason has not answered:
Right Tackle (RT): Losing Colon hurt, but like others I thought that the signing of Flozell Adams might alleviate the pain. However, Flozell Adams looks disinterested at times and often looks as if he has forgotten that it’s okay to actually…well, move. I think he has lost enough of a step that he has found it impossible to block speed rushers, and at this point in his career, everyone looks like a speed rusher to him. Now throw in Tony Hills , who spent two years looking disinterested but has spent this preseason looking like a man who thought he might lose his job. At the very least, this shows that Hills is perceptive. At the most we might have found we have a right tackle in a player that we had all but given up on.
Wide Receiver (WR) and Return Specialist (RS): Again, our problem at these two positions is a good problem to have. Wallace came into his own last year, showing us that he is a legitimate deep threat and a player with a future. We thought enough of him to let the troublesome Santonio Holmes leave via trade, we re-signed Antwaan Randle El and we picked up two speedsters in the draft to fight for the #4 WR slot with newly acquired veteran side receiver and special team ace Arnaz Battle. Both Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown have showed enough potential to warrant the 53-man roster and Brown may make it due to his return skills alone. That is no small feat when we consider just how well Stefan Logan did last year as a returner for us, but Brown returns both kickoffs and punts, and is versatile enough to line up as a receiver.
Cornerback (CB): Bryant McFadden was brought back due to sub-par play by William Gay. We know that Bryant will be an immediate improvement but we never planned on Keenan Lewis, Joe Burnett and Crezdon Butler playing as well as they have. Good problem to have, but questions remain as to how the final depth chart will end up.
Now for some of the questions that have come up since the preseason began:
Linebacker (LB): Stephenson Sylvester....wow, what do we do with this kid? I see what the coaches mean when they say that he is too long legged and doesn’t bend well, but isn’t “results” the true test of player ability? This kid can play. I seem to remember another skinny Steelers linebacker who wasn’t “built” correctly. He also played inside and as I seem to recall, that foul-mouthed, toothless, ass-kicking middle linebacker did okay. We also have to look at the real possibility that we might have rookies backing up both outside linebacker positions. Gibson and Worilds wouldn’t survive the PS and placing them on the 53 man roster isn’t that much of a stretch when you consider the fact that two of our veteran inside linebackers could play on the outside if needed.
Offensive Center (OC): Maurkice Pouncey was supposed to be our RG this year, but besides having very good blocking skills he has shown to be cerebral enough to absorb the playbook and make line calls. No one should be surprised if Pouncey begins the season as our starting center. That would allow us to keep Essex at RG and try Foster or Hills at RT or vice versa. If that’s the case, the question is what do we do with Hartwig? Does he become one of the highest paid backup centers in the NFL and we cut either Urbik or Legursky? Or do we cut Hartwig and look to the future?
Quarterback (QB): This is probably the most talked about position since the pre-season began. Ben’s suspension made it necessary to re-sign Byron Leftwich. Lefty has looked pretty good these last two games and his 68-yard TD pass to Wallace was a thing of beauty. Dennis Dixon has shown that he has the arm to keep defenses honest but can use his feet to make defensive coordinators pay for not bringing an extra player up into the box. Batch may be the odd man out. The real question is going to be if the Steeler Nation is patient enough to let Ben shake the rust off upon his return.