Thursday, August 9, 2007

Sorting Out an Offensive Line

When the offensive line plays well together, the Steelers tend to win games. That’s not an earth-shattering observation, but reality. The team has some good young talent and solid veterans that have won a Super Bowl. With Alan Faneca, Max Starks, and Kendall Simmons playing out their final contract years, the Steelers need to have a plan in place for not only this season, but going forward as well. That challenge is creating the most interesting positional battles in this camp. Players are shifting all over the line and who ends up where is hard to even predict. I think eight players will stick and here’s my best guess at who stays:
-Willie Colon – Steelers are very high on Colon
-Alan Faneca – Best guard in the NFL plays hard for his big upcoming contract
-Chris Kemoeatu – Another young talent with a ferocious attitude
-Sean Mahan – Biggest free agent signing of the year
-Kendall Simmons – Looks strong, overcoming his issues, another free agent to be
-Marvel Smith – Solid performer
-Max Starks – Free agent to be, losing ground to Colon
-Cameron Stephenson – Rookie makes the team

Here’s who gets cut:
-Jason Capizzi – Practice squad possibility
-Trai Essex – Not impressing the Steelers coaches
-Chuckky Okobi – Done when they signed Mahan, cost savings move
-Donovan Raiola – No shot
-Darnell Stephenson – Practice squad possibility
-Brandon Torrey – No shot

I think that the new line won’t be cemented until the last preseason game. Out of those eight that make the team, the line has a chance at being very good. With Faneca and Starks playing out their contracts (and possibly Simmons too), offensive line will be the team’s biggest draft need next year.

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