Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Very Solid Defensive Line

For the Steelers defense to be successful, the defensive line must be disruptive. The 3-4 defense doesn’t necessarily require a big-time pass rushing defensive end, but the Steelers can get some good pressure with these guys. Lets see how thing start to change as the 4-3 starts to get worked into the defensive plans. You'll probably

Casey Hampton gets everything started as opposing teams often need to put two linemen on him. He opens the holes for the linebackers to get into the backfield. Aaron Smith and Brent Keisel are perhaps the most unheralded players at their positions in the league. Watch for Keisel to really step it up this year.

The only problem with this group is that it is getting older. Hampton will turn 30. His solid backup, Chris Hoke, and Smith are already over 30. Keisel hits 30 next year. And, longtime backup, Travis Kirschke, is soon to be 33. There is a need for some young guys to get some experience here. As a result, I think Kirschke may go. He’s been a solid contributor for this team, including his special teams play, but the team needs to start planning for the future.

The Steelers will probably keep six defensive linemen. Here’s the breakdown:
-Nick Eason: younger option, makes the team
-Casey Hampton: the big guy is the leader of this group
-Chris Hoke: signed a new extension, hopefully his knees hold up
-Derrick Jones: thanks for coming to camp
-Brett Keisel: may be a more impacting player this season
-Travis Kirschke: tough cut
-Ryan McBean: meets youth need, makes the team
-Shaun Nua: practice squad possibility
-Scott Paxon: practice squad possibility-Aaron Smith: one of the best

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