Sunday, September 4, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing?

Tony Hills was a casualty of the final 5 cuts made by the Steelers on Saturday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of

I have been silent (some might say strangely silent) during the Steeler preseason this year.  The reason?  There ain't much happening.  The Steelers have chosen to take nearly the same roster into 2011 as they had in 2010.  At this time, the biggest story is how the 2008 draft can be analyzed.  Just three years after drafting a class that looked very promising, only three names remain: Rashard Mendenhall; Dennis Dixon; and Ryan Mundy.  And those who have been shown the door: Limas Sweed; Bruce Davis; Tony Hills; and Mike Humpal. 
There is no doubt that Mendenhall was worth a first round pick.  He is a strong and powerful weapon in the Steeler offense.  Dennis Dixon was a 5th round pick and he has had his highlights and lowlights--but that is what you expect from a 5th round pick.  Ryan Mundy was selected in the 6th round and he has been used sparingly--pretty much what you expect from a 6th round pick.
Now, the trainwrecks.  Limas Sweed seemed to be a steal in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft.  But a faked injury and several dropped passes later and he has been moved to an undisclosed location.  Bruce Davis was chosen in the 3rd round, and again, he was looked at as a steal.  He was a playmaker in college and the son of a former NFL player.  It soon appeared that the apple fell far from the tree.  The most recent FAIL was sent packing yesterday afternoon.  In fact, it took so long to cut Tony Hills that it worries me what we have left on our offensive line.  Hills was a tackle at the University of Texas and the Steelers picked him in the 4th round.  Now 4th round offensive line selections tend to be guys who need some work.  Maybe their weight is an issue or they have bad footwork or maybe they just need to learn how to be a mean SOB that protects the quarterback's blindside.  It seems that the Steelers gave Hills every chance to be a contributor for three years.  Unfortunately, he didn't develop into the kind of player they needed. 
What worries me about the Hills cut is that, as of two weeks ago, he was competing for the starting right guard position.  If he went from a possible starting right guard to being cut, what does that say about our offensive line?  Does this mean that the guys who made the team are really close to being on the street as well?  Right now, Doug Legursky is going to start at right guard.  This makes sense because it seems whenever we have a breakdown at center or guard, someone hits the "EASY" button and Legursky trots onto the field.  The problem with making Legursky a starter is that if there are any problems/injuries to Maurkice Pouncey or Chris Kemoeatu, we might have to shuffle two offensive line positions to have the best lineup.  I don't recall a time where the offensive line has been this unstable.  Maybe I am overreacting and the announcement that Hills was a possible week 1 starter at right guard was a way to motivate him to seal the deal.  If that was the case, then it didn't work.  If it was legitimate, and in two weeks he went from possible starter to driving a cab, I can't feel real confident about it.  I trust that Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin know what they are doing.  I just hope that the offensive line looks better than it did during the preseason. 

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