Saturday, August 25, 2007

Nice Balance in the Defensive Backfield

The Steelers have done an excellent job of building a strong defensive backfield. It was tough to see Chris Hope leave after the Super Bowl season, but the team filled his spot well with Ryan Clark and Anthony Smith. Of all the positions on the team, the Steelers may have the most talent here. The last couple of cuts here may be among the toughest decision the team makes.

Even though Cowher benched him last season, Ike Taylor is very good cornerback, just look at Chad Johnson’s numbers against the Steelers. He will have a very good season this year and wants to move beyond Cowher’s humiliation of him. Deshea Townsend, what can I say… Every year, I write this guy off the team before camp starts and he just keeps getting better. Bryant McFadden was supposed to take over this year, but Townsend looks like he’ll be the starter again. McFadden will be a very good corner when his time comes.

At safety, Troy Polamalu is a freak. This guy makes plays that he has no business making. His combination of speed, football sense, and power is unrivaled. He is the difference maker on the Steelers defense. The other safeties need to be aware of how Polamalu plays and make sure they don’t get caught out of position. Both Clark and Smith compliment Polamalu’s aggressive style very well.

The team will probably keep 8-10 players in the defensive backfield. Here’s my view:
- Tyrone Carter – good vet, special teams contributor
- Clark – either he or Smith will start, both will play
- Ricardo Colclough – putting last season’s injury behind him, looks great so far
- William Gay – if he doesn’t make the team, practice squad
- Chidi Iwuoma – one of the best special teams players, but could get cut
- McFadden – will eventually start
- Polamalu – best in the league
- Smith – could be the starter, but will contribute regardless
- Taylor – back on track to have a great season
- Townsend – not a gifted athlete, but very smart

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