The home of die hard Pittsburgh Steelers fans. It's not just a team, it's a way of life!

Welcome to Latrobe

July 18, 2001 by Steel Phantom

Camp Days:

Camp Days:


Camp opens tomorrow though there will be no real action until Saturday.Here are some keys I�ll be looking at this summer:


Quarterback, the search for #2:Kordell is the incumbent; we know what Graham has to offer and we know that it is not enough.Tee Martin gets high marks for leadership, intangibles, athleticism and arm strength.The rap on this man has been accuracy, especially on the short ball; Toy and Ward project as RAC-aces but only if the ball arrives on time and in-stride.To be a legit #2, Martin has to show he can consistently hit a receiver on the move.He needs to show he can read a defense too but, with the vanilla-only schemes purveyed in mid-summer ball, there�ll be no judging his progress in that area.��


Tommy Maddox hit long and short in the XFL but there is a real question whether the 2001 Xtreme could have beaten the 2000-01 Sooners or Seminoles.It is a different game in the NFL and the difference is all about speed.In the XFL, Maddox had success against D-backs who aren�t quite quick enough to be training camp fodder.Probably, the 2nd half of any pre-season game will be a step-up for Tommy.�� However, if either he or Tee is to be tested as viable alternatives at #2, they�ll have to get some 1st half opportunities this summer, against 1st unit defenses.


Running back, inter-modal transport: There�s been a lot of talk about Coach Mularkey�s revised passing attack but what about the run game?Other than Watters and Smith, the Bus has made more trips than any RB in football.Bettis has a 6-year deal but, if the Stillers want more than a couple years service from this man, they�ll have to cut his carry totals down.Bettis fits the power-I but neither back up does; Amoz lacks size and Fu lacks durability.All this suggests that the Stillers are headed towards some alternative, whether a change-up back ala Pegram or a change-up base formation featuring both Fu and Amoz. They�ll have every opportunity to work either deal during pre-season because, probably, the Bus won�t get 15 carries between now and the opener. ����


Fullback, the search for the next John L. Williams:Rod Frazier is 5�-11�, 255#.That�s Kreider-height with 13# added; maybe Rod can block.Frazier went to pass-happy Florida; maybe he can catch the ball.I�d like to see this player emerge as a multiple purpose FB; with Kurpeikis, this is the man I�d most like to see make it as a rookie FA.


WR, money for nothing:The Stillers have $2.163M/year in bonus dollars dedicated to Spike and Toy; add their combined salaries and you�re talking real cash.RFA Hines Ward and Bobby Shaw are currently listed as starters at this position; combined, the Stillers will pay these players something around $1.22M this year.If the FO was correct in drafting Edwards and Burress, then the Stillers may be playoff contenders now but if not, not.If Toy and Spike are ready now, then the FO could shop Shaw or Ward to, say, the Chiefs for, say, CB Pat Dennis.��


OL, the search for the next Strzelczyk:Keydrick Vincent is 6�-5�, 330#. Vincent played LOT at Mississippi but lacks the agility to do so in the NFL.He is currently listed as a ROT but has the bulk to move inside.The Stillers have need for a OT/G; Keydrick is #3 on my rookie FA watch list.Strzelczyk spent a couple years on the PS before making the regular roster, maybe Vincent is the next Justin, maybe the next Orlandini.


NT, Hampton or bust:If Casey can�t figure it out, Clancy is not a viable alternative.Even booster-extraordinaire Bob Labriola figures that KVO will move back inside with either Sullie or Combs pressed into service at DE.Hampton will get every opportunity and I think he�ll do fine.Until last year, Coach Cowher sat his rookies but, in 2000, Spike and Marvel started from day one and so will Casey.My guess is that Hampton will finish 3rd in the NFL D-side ROY ballot; Carter, Morgan or Archuleta will winFurther, Hampton will be the D-side captain by 2004 but, ultimately, Kendrell Bell will be the better player.


DE:Reportedly, Combs is up to 294# or so.That�s good news; last year, this man lacked speed, bulk and strength.Now, he�s bigger anyway and, while

neither KVO nor Smith are exceptional POA players, Combs� development could give the Stillers a much need 2nd two-gap player to pair with Hampton.


LB:The future resides with Porter and Bell; while neither has the state of the art speed Urlacher and Arrington bring, both are pretty close to that level.I can�t think of a team that has two LB with this kind of speed.Porter has to learn to play the run better and Bell, if he is to be the coverage backer, has to learn cover.That accomplished, the D-Head will have to figure a way to get both of these players on the field, but off the LOS, on every down.


CB:Coming out of college, Hank Poteat was regarded as a quality man-up cover back.Given the Stillers contractual issues at this position, they�ll need this man to confirm that evaluation, if not now, then very shortly.


S:Purportedly, Logan was brought in to compete with Alexander at FS.Logan is an athlete; Alex was the QB in the 2000 secondary.Why not both?Logan is 6�-0�, 209#; SS Lee Flowers is 6�-0�, 211#.Logan is big enough to play SS and is much faster than Flowers.Work Logan at both spots; if he can play SS, then the Stillers will have a man there with Lake-esque speed and will have a valuable trade chip in Lethon Flowers.






Like this? Share it with friends: