Steelers Sign DeAngelo Williams to Back Up Le’Veon Bell

If nothing else, the Pittsburgh Steelers are consistent. The big news out of the South Side last week was of course the Steelers resigning Ben Roethlisberger to a 5 year contract extension.

But that wasn’t the only deal they made.

The Steelers also signed running back DeAngelo Williams to a 2 year deal valued at 4 million dollars. While Williams is coming to Pittsburgh to back up Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers need him to be more than just a change of pace back, as Le’Veon Bell faces a minimum two game suspension for last August’s DWI arrest.

What makes the Williams deal interesting, is that the last time the Steelers extended Ben Roethlisberger’s contract, they also signed a backup running back, coming to terms with Mewelde Moore.

Moore’s signing and then his presence on the Steelers roster was almost totally ignored by the press, and his role was different from Williams. In addition to Willie Parker, the Steelers were about to draft Rashard Mendenhall, and had Gary Russell and Carey Davis on their roster.

Moore was buried deep on the depth chart, and the biggest question behind Mewelde Moore’s signing was tied to Mike Tomlin’s abilities as a talent evaluator – his first several signature personnel moves – signing Sean Mahan, trading for Allen Rossum, drafting Dan Sepulveda and picking Matt Spaeth with a third round pick were already seen as questionable 14 months into the job.

Moore of course turned out to be phenomenal value free agent signing, and Steel Curtain Rising has long argued that Mewelde Moore served as the unsung hero of the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII season.

DeAngelo Williams Signing Raises Different Questions

The DeAngelo Williams signing raises different questions, namely whether or not he has anything left in the tank. Williams was drafted by Carolina in the first round of the 2006 draft. Since then he’s started for 5 full seasons and split time in four others. He’s rushed for close to 7,000 yards in his career, with his best year coming in 2008 when he ran for over 1500 yards and scored 18 touchdowns.

  • Williams however, did not play well in Carolina during 2014.

Injuries limited him for much of the season, and he only gained 219 yards averaging 3.5 yards per carry. On Steel City Insider Jim Wexell reports that Williams was not happy with the support he got in Carolina after the death of his mother, and is quite motivated to show he still has something left.
Indeed, William’s own words back this up:

Steelers Nation welcomes DeAngelo Williams to Pittsburgh, and does so with the hope the he indeed has something left.

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Kaboly’s Wrong; Willie Parker’s ’08 Comments, Brown’s Record Not Analogous

Let’s begin with some clarifications. Steel Curtain Rising isn’t crazy about Mike Tomlin’s agreeing with Ben Roethlisberger’s request to keep Antonio Brown’s record. But the play worked. The Steelers beat the Jaguars. And there’s whole hearted agreement with Terry Fletcher that it’s time to move on.

  • But Mark Kaboly’s argument is flawed, and that must be discussed.

Writing on the Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s Steel Mill Blog, Kabloy commends Ben for sticking up for his teammate and criticizes Tomlin for agreeing. Kaboly makes all of the relvant arguments – that winning should be enough, the team doesn’t need distractions, and suggests Tomlin undermines his trademark  “style points don’t matter.”

That’s all fine and fair game. Even if one feels this has become “much to do about nothing” Kabloy’s on solid ground so far. But then he makes this argument:

The year was 2008 and running back Willie Parker told the media on a Wednesday that he thought the team was getting away from Steelers football by throwing the ball too much.
The next day, Tomlin called a press conference.
Now, Tomlin never called an impromptu press conference before that day and he never called one since.
Full disclosure – the quote which appears next actually came before the two paragraphs above]
I especially remember “every day I walk by five Lombardi Trophies, not five rushing titles.  Willie (Parker’s) comments could be construed as selfish …”

Kaboly’s essential point is that Tomlin missed a chance to send the message home that team comes first. And on the surface he’s picked a pretty powerful quote out of the past.

But Kabloy’s also taking the quote out of context (he might actually be misquoting Tomlin, but we’ll leave that for the Watch Tower) on a number of counts. First, Willie Parker’s comments came in mid-December a week after the Steelers had beaten Dallas and right before an all important show down with Baltimore.

  • Willie Parker’s comments were ill-timed, to say the least.

Parker was making some pretty pointed comments about Bruce Arians’ offense, and doing so in a season when his health and production had greatly declined. (Thank God for Mewelde Moore – the unsung hero of the ’08 Super Bowl team.) What he said then was clearly premeditated, whereas Tomlin’s decision was made spontaneously during a game.

Kabloy’s making a valid point by indicating that Tomlin has potentially jeopardized the “team first mentality.” But he’s mixing apples and oranges in trying to compare it to Willie Parker’s comments of Decmeber 2008.

‘Nuff said. Time for Steelers Nation to move on.

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Conscious of Cotchery’s Carolina Visit, Steelers to Host Lace Moore and James Starks

Already having lost Jonathan Dwyer and facing the impending defection of Jerricho Cotchery to Carolina, the Pittsburgh Steelers are planning visits of Green Bay running back James Starks and New Orleans wide receiver Lance Moore.

Jonathan Dwyer’s free agent status in Pittsburgh was an unknown when the signing period began, and he was not expected to attract a lot of attention. He most certainly didn’t, but Dwyer did accept an offer to rejoin Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh West, aka Arizona.

In contrast, Jerricho Cotchery was expected to resign with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the Carolina Pathers receiving corps has been ravaged. They recently cut Steve Smith, and the contact Smith signed with the Baltimore Ravens is likely driving up Cotchery’s value.

  • Cotchery will be 32 by opening day, and knows full well his next contract could be his last.

While Cotchery has played in Pittsburgh for a minimal salary during the last two years, he’s understandably looking for a bigger pay day and Carolina will likely offer more than Pittsburgh.

Cotchery’s Carolina visit is undoubtedly driving the Steelers interest in Moore, but as Behind the Steel Curtain Editor Neal Coolong observes, Moore has many unwelcome attributes of recent Steelers wide receivers – namely age above 30, injury history and lack of height (ever since Plaxico Burress left in 2004, Ben Roethlisberger has been on record saying he wants a “tall receiver.”)

James Starks is a more enticing prospect. He’s a career backup who, after a glance at his numbers, fits the Mewelde Moore mold. At age 28 he’s played in 35 NFL games but only started 2, but has averaged 4.4 yards a carry, including 47 yards in 10 carries in the Steelers 2013 defeat of the Packers.

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Steelers Free Agent Focus: Need to Keep (up with) the (Felix) Joneses?

Sometimes history and happenstance hook up to and make for some uncanny encounters. In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Rashard Mendenhall precisely one pick after the Dallas Cowboys chose Felix Jones.

And so it was that the year that the Steelers said goodbye to Mendenhall, they ended up making a rare player-for-player trade to acquire Felix Jones from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Capsule Profile of Felix Jones as a Pittsburgh Steeler

Unlike other players in this series, Jones doesn’t have much of a body of work to summarize. He appeared in 15 games for the Steelers, starting in week 2 vs. the Bengals and week 3 vs. the Bears, until giving way to Le’Veon Bell in week 4 in London vs. the Vikings.

Even when he was starting, however, Jones never saw more than 10 carries in a game.

Case for Keeping Felix Jones

When seeking depth in the form of veteran back ups, some star power is a plus, but stability is sufficient. In that respect, Felix Jones appears to fit the bill. Although his chances were limited, a review of his efforts showed him to be a confident, competent change of pace back for the Steelers.

Or did they….?

Case for Letting Jones Walk

…The perception/memory of Felix Jones and his actual performance are perhaps two different issues. Like Issac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, and Bell, Jones numbers are not terribly impressive. 48 carries for 184 yards and no touchdowns, with 9 catches for 73 yards. Dwyer only ran for 13 more yards, but Dwyer’s was used much more frequently in short yardage situations, and by most accounts put more impressive runs on tape.

If the Steelers see it as a Jones or Dwyer situation, Dwyer gets the edge, despite his checkered history. Even if it’s not, Jones 2013 performance suggests the team can do better than him as a back up.

Curtain’s Call on Felix Jones

One of new running back’s coach James Saxon will be to provide input on who should back up Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers will likely look to bring in another running back in either mid or late rounds, but a veteran presence is essential.

2013 was bad year for the Steelers once vaunted rushing attack. Perhaps that’s because of offensive line instability. Perhaps its simply because the offense has evolved to the point where Ben Roethlisberger really is the focal point. While much has been made of Bell’s low rushing totals, he only played in 13 games, far less attention has been paid to Dwyer or Jones performance.

The Steeler’s number 2 rushers in 2011, 2009, and 2008 In were Isaac Redman, Willie Parker, and Mewelde Moore.

  • Each of those back up rushers out performed Dwyer and Jones combined rushing total for 2013.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could do worse than Felix Jones for depth at running back, but they owe it to themselves to see if they can do better and as such any move to resign Jones should wait until after the 2014 NFL Draft.

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Watch Tower: Coverage Lapses Call into Question Role of Daily Newspapers in the Digital Age

Regular readers of Steel Curtain Rising’s Watch Tower know the column has been particularly harsh on the mainstream press lately. While the Watch Tower’s purpose is to cast a critical eye on the Steelers press converge, that doesn’t mean such commentary needs to be negative.

  • In fact, in many cases that Watch Tower has been quite complementary.

But there’s a pattern of non-coverage of important stories emerging here, and one that deserves deeper discussion.

Add Moorman to the List

Recently the Watch Tower took aim at both the Post-Gazette and Tribune Review’s decision to completely ignore Doug Legursky’s defection to the Bills.

And for good reason, the decision to let Legursky leave could come back to haunt the Steelers given the need to protect Ben Roethlisberger. The motives behind the Steelers decision deserve to be discussed.

  • Unfortunately, this non-coverage is not an isolated example.

Former Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl Punter Brian Moorman signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers on April 30th. The news was picked up by a mix of professional and fan based sites, ranging from Behind the Steel Curtain to NBC’s Pro Football Talk.

However the news first appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in May 25th. In an ironic twist of word smithery, Ray Fittipaldo lead’s went like this:

The under-the-radar signing for the Steelers this off season came two days after the draft ended and barely made a ripple in the news cycle….

Was Fittipaldo attempting to make amends for his paper’s omission a legitimate news story, or was it just coincidence?

Steelers Nation will probably never know, but the issue raises some very relevant questions as to the purpose and role of the sports pages of the traditional dailies in the internet age.

If A Free Agent Leaves But The Papers Don’t Covers It, Does It Make A Sound?

The Mooreman’s signing is only the latest in a series of news stories that have gone un or under covered by either the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and/or the Tribune Review.

While much of this non-coverage involves free agent signings it extends to other areas. For example, the major dailies all dutifully reported the decision to put Justin King on injured reserve. Information on the nature of his injury was absent. (Granted losing Justin King in June isn’t quite like losing Willie Colon.)

Former Steelers coach Bill Austin passed away earlier this off season. While the Tribune Review’s Alan Robinson wrote something on his death, the Post Gazette published a Bloomberg News article written by someone else who listed Ed Bouchette as a contributor.

There’s a pattern here.

Trying to Find Rhyme or Reason

Let’s give the devil his due, and discuss possible reasons for why these stories got no coverage, because they do appear to be deviations from editorial policy.

For example, the potential and then actual departures of Will Allen and Ryan Mundy were fully covered by the major Pittsburgh dailies. Both moves were legitimate news involving minor players.

  • In contrast, however, both Moore’s departure in ’12 and Legursky’s loss in ’13 arguably represented losses of more significant contributors.

One possible explanation is that both Allen and Mundy’s departure’s occurred in heat of free agency, where as Moore and Doug Legursky left after the draft during the NFL’s only true off season when attention ebbs.

  • While that fact may mean decreased public interest in the stories, it does nothing to make them less newsworthy.

Similar (potential) explanations exist for the non-coverage of Isaac Redman and Steve McLendon’s signings. Both occurred days before the NFL Draft, an event whose coverage has taken on monstrous proportions of its own.

  • But again, does this justify non-coverage?

Hardly. Losing McLendon would have all but forced the Steelers to draft a defensive lineman in the first or second round.

By a similar token, reports indicated that their were at least some parties on the South Side who were concerned that Bruce Arians would attempt to lure Isaac Redman to Pittsburgh West. Had Arians done so at the last minute the Steelers almost certainly would have lost “Redzone Redman.”

The fact that this possibility went off the table when Redman signed his tender was news. It deserved coverage.

What Is the Role of a Daily?

Steelers fans of course had myriad other means to learn of this information, via Twitter, fan sites, ESPN and sports talk radio.

But if that is the argument/explanation for not covering stories like that then the counter question becomes quite caustic:

  • What is the purpose of the sports section of a major newspaper?

Most dailies (at least the Pittsburgh dailies) don’t offer the types of in depth analysis pieces that you find on fan based sites like Behind the Steel Curtain (full disclosure, I also write for BTSC).

Presumptively the reason is because they feel their focus should be on more traditional “news” stories that can be tied conversations with the newsmakers themselves.

That’s a defensible position from a purely journalistic perspective, although one that is likely not a sustainable digital age strategy for two complimentary reasons. First, fan bases’ appetite for “content” on their favorite teams remains nearly boundless. The second relates to the bottom line – profitability and page views go hand-in-hand in the digital world.

  • But the traditionalist journalism argument completely falls flat when dailies simply begin ignoring legitimate news stories.

Because if the dailies fail to make themselves “one-stop-shops” supplying all of the basic news about a particular team in an objective format (as opposed to team websites) then fans both can and will stop visiting their sites….

…The Watch Tower very much wants to see traditional newspapers make the transition to the digital age, and in that vein it suggests that the editors of the Post-Gazette and Tribune Review have a little soul searching to do.

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Steelers Must Resign Isaac Redman

Three summers ago, Isaac Redman entered Steelers training camp St. Vincents as an after thought. Redman left Latrobe as one of Steeler’s Nation’s cult heroes.

To fully grasp of the enormity of that feat, consider the depth chart he was up against:

  • Willie Parker author of the longest run from scrimmage in Super Bowl history
  • Rashard Mendenhall, first round pick from the Steelers 2008 Draft
  • Mewelde Moore, one of the unsung heroes of the Steelers 2008 season and Super Bowl XLIII
  • Frank Summers, aka Frank “The Tank” Summers, a perhaps the most ballyhooed fifth round draft pick in Steelers history
  • Carey Davis, nobody’s world beater, but someone the coaches liked enough to phase out legendary unrestricted rookie free agent Dan Kreider

Redman also had to contend with Stefan Logan, whose CFL exploits earned him the nick name “Joy Stick.”

Yes, he deck was stacked against Isaac Redman. But he succeeded.

Never Underestimate Those 4th Quarters of Preseason Games

Faithful Steel Curtain Rising readers know that yours truly misses preseason (they don’t show preseason games in Buenos Aires, Argentina). One reason is that during the much bemoaned 4th quarter of preseason games, you absolutely know that the guys on the field are playing giving ounce they have to give.

Such was the case with Isaac Redman when he scored not once, but twice vs. the Arizona Cardinals in the Steelers first preseason game.

  • Playing well in preseason when you get your shot in the 4th quarter vs. jobbers is one thing. Doing it against hardened starters remains a different question. 

Never one to let rookies dazzle him, Mike Tomlin had a bigger test for Redman in mind….

The Goal Line Drill

…NFL training camp isn’t what it used to be. In Tom Landry, Don Shula and Chuck Noll’s heyday two-a-days were standard operating procedure, full contact drills the norm and not the exception, and players were often forbidden to drink water between activities.

As salaries have risen, NFL owners and coaches have become gun shy about risking injuring their stars in training camp.

  • But at least one exception remains — the goal line drill.

Mike Tomlin wasted little time testing HE Isaac Redman of the preseason glory, against likes of James Harrison, Aaron Smith, and James Farrior.

Redman embraced the challenge with relish. Now such attitude is common place among unknown rookies – results are an entirely different thing (click here a priceless story a rookie who spent his 15 Minutes of Fame challenging Jack Lambert in the summer of ’78 at Latrobe.)

  • Redman delivered results scored in goal line drills. 

However, he struggled in the Steelers next two preseason contests vs. Washington and the Bills, but came back to score a touchdown vs. the Panthers in the preseason finale.

It didn’t matter. The Steelers cut “RedZone Redman” and put him on the practice squad. In fact the Steelers signed and released Redman several times in 2009.

Pundits in the press suggested that the fact that no other NFL team took Redman showed he was expendable. (Never mind that NFL personnel men had made the same mistake with James Harrison….)

From Cult Hero to Tireless Gamer

Redman earned a roster spot in 2010 and saw spot duty through out the year, the highlight of which included Redman’s willing himself into the end zone for the go ahead touchdown vs. Baltimore.

Isaac Redman’s took over the primary back up rolle in 2011 and while he lacked the speed or raw talent of a Rashard Mendenhall, Redman showed himself to be a bruiser, whose legs never stopped moving until the whistle.

When Mendenhall tore his ACL in the season finale vs. Cleveland, Redman delivered, as he did again in the Tebowing the Steelers suffered in Denver.

  • By the end of 2011 Redman had clearly established he was a legitimate NFL running back.

Rougher sailing lay in wait for Redman in 2012, as injures hampered his effectiveness in the game first six weeks, but he exploded for 147 yards vs. the New York Giants.

He never returned to that level during the rest of the year, but he excelled in 3rd and 4th and short occasions and was easily the most consistent back of the year.

Steelers Need to Reup Redman

Isaac Redman is a restricted free agent, but because the he was undrafted, the Steelers only retain the right of first refusal if they offer him the lowest tender. Indications are that the Steelers may do just that due to salary cap restraints.

  • Regardless of how he does it, the Kevin Colbert needs to ensure that Isaac Redman is a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2013

It also says here that reports that the Steelers will give Redman a low-ball tender should be taken with a grain of salt, especially if they follow through on rumors not to tender Jonathan Dwyer at all.

  • Would the Steelers brass really commit themselves to matching any offer a team threw at Redman Doubtfully.

Like fellow restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, if the Steelers can find salary cap space to make it work, they’d be wise to ink Isaac Redman to a long term deal.

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Watch Tower: Calling Out Mike Florio, Revisiting Mike Tomlin and Kordell Stewart, and Taking Our Own Medicine

NBC Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio attracts attention to himself. Last month Florio drew the ire of Steelers Nation by taking Mike Tomlin’s William and Mary Hall of Fame induction speech and twisting it so far out of context they it was unrecognizable.

Fellow scribe Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain immediately pounced as did Steelers Depot and Dan Gigler of the Post Gazette’s Blog ‘N Gold.

Then I watch Tomlin’s speech (click here for the full video) and now I question whether or not Coolong was harsh enough.

But the purpose of Watch Tower’scritical eye is to analyze and understand what drives the coverage that the Steelers get in the press.
  • So the Watch Tower went right to the source:  Mike Florio himself.

I sent Florio a message, asking if he’d read the full text of Tomlin’s speech or viewed it (Florio quoted passage, citing Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column).

I inquired if he weighed the context of Tomlin’s and if he’d sought comment or clarification from Tomlin or the team. One imagines that Burt Lauren, Steelers Communications director, would take Florio’s call. Finally, I asked Florio if he really did want to insulate that Tomlin condoned attempts to injure players.
The response from Florio?
Nothing.
  • Despite repeated attempts, Florio chose not to respond.

The professional press criticizes bloggers, often rightly, for hiding behind anonymity as they poison the well of public discourse.

But the fact that Florio put his name beside his attacks fails to make him any better.

He could have responded to my inquiry in several ways. He could have defended his work, offered a mea culpa or even dismissed the question with a hearty “who the hell are you?”
Instead, he chose silence.
  • And for that, the Watch Tower calls out Florio as a coward.

If you’re going to make scandalous charges about one of the classiest individuals in the NFL Mike, then man up stand behind what you write.

Kordell the Best Between Bradshaw and Ben?

Kordell Stewart surprised Steelers Nation yet again with his “retirement.” Stewart generated more controversy than perhaps any man to wear the Black and Gold and his decision to call it quits 10 years after leaving the team drew a variety of responses.
None were more puzzling, however, than Ron Cook of the Post-Gazette.
Reflecting on Stewart’s career Cook concluded, “He was the Steelers’ best quarterback between four-time Super Bowl winner Terry Bradshaw and two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger.”
Two paragraphs later Cook doubled down:

Stewart once predicted he would make the Hall of Fame. He fell considerably short, but he was better than everyone on this list: Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, David Woodley, Scott Campbell, Bubby Brister, Steve Bono, Todd Blackledge, Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Jim Miller, Kent Graham and Tommy Maddox. They are the other Steelers quarterbacks who followed Bradshaw and preceded Roethlisberger.

  • Cook makes a bold claim.

The Watch Tower takes no issue with Cook’s opinion, he’s entitled to it and there’s an argument to be made to support. But successfully making such an argument requires marshaling evidence that Kordell was better than Neil O’Donnell at least, and perhaps Tommy Maddox.

Cook doesn’t do that. He probably didn’t have the column space, but his piece would have been far more interesting if he had.
Mike Tomlin’s Contract
Earlier this year he suggested that Tomlin might resent Art Rooney II’s forcing him to fire Bruce Arians so much that he’d decline to renew his contract. Regular readers will remember that the Watch Tower took issue with Cook then for not backing his analysis up with any reporting.
Cook mentioned the Arians firing, but took a different direction and in doing so raised the possibility that Steelers Nation will get an answer to a long-unanswered question.
Cook reasons that market dynamics dictate a significant raise for Tomlin, in the range of what it Bill Cowher could have commanded in 2006.
  • Many believe that Cowher simply because the Steelers would not pay premium dollar for a head coach.

Personally I’ve always felt that the Steelers probably would have met his price had he indicated that his future was in Pittsburgh. But we never got to find out because Kaye Cowher was already in the family’s newly purchased home in North Carolina, hence the Rooneys declined to open their check books.

If Cook is right we could find out just how ready the Rooneys are to pay top dollar for a coach in a few weeks.

Love for Troy Smith, No Love for Mewelde Moore

The Steelers lost Mewelde Moore when he signed with theColts and decided to part ways with Troy Smith. You’d figure that Moore’s departure would merit more attention than Smith.
That was not the case, at least in Pittsburgh’s to leading dailies. News, let alone a story, about Mewelde Moore’sdeparture was no where to be found on either website save for a brief mention in Seth Rorabagh’s “Morning Links” column on PG Plus.
  • In contrast, Smith’s departure drew short stories in both the Tribune Review and Post Gazette.

Moore’s departure was widely forecast, but he was an unsung hero in the Steelers 2008 Super Bowl season and deserved more of a send off. Nonetheless, the lack of coverage was fitting as in 2008 the press largely ignored Mewelde Moore until injuries forced him into the line up (click here for that story.)

Steel Curtain Rising Takes Its Own Medicine

The Watch Tower bright lights do not discriminate, not even when it comes to its home site.
When news broke that the Steelers planned to keep Marcus Gilbert at right tackle I jumped to the conclusion that meant they were therefore were by default (given that they won’t be so dense as to start Jonathan Scott or Trai Essex there) handing the job to second round pick Mike Adams.
  • As it turns out, Marcus Gilbert did see time at LT during OTA’s and word also circulated that the team might give Max Starks a look.

Two pitfalls of the internet are haste in getting “content” on a page can lead to sloppy judgment and that nothing generates hits like a negative headline.

So be it. Yours truly fell prey to both of those and I duly accept my comeuppance.

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Steelers Say Goodbye as Mewelde Moore Signs with Colts

The Pittsburgh Steelers said good bye to reserve running back Mewelde Moore, who will rejoin Bruce Arians at the Indianapolis Colts.
Moore arrived in Pittsburgh in 2008 with little fan fare, the news of Moore’s signing breaking on the same day that Ben Roethlisberger signed his 100 million dollar extension.
Moorenever became a star with the Steelers, but he was an invaluable back up and effective third down back.
Mewelde Moore passed through training camp and the beginning of the 2008 campaign largely ignored by the press if not the coaches.
But Mooreplayed a crucial role when injuries felled Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhalland Carey Davis. Moore started in the all-important mid-season show down with Jacksonvillethat year and helped breath life into Mike Tomlin’s “The Standard is the Standard” philosophy by running the ball with authority.
  • Mooreplayed extensively during the rest of 2008, and was one of that Super Bowl season’s unsung heroes.
And that’s how his career in Pittsburgh will be remembered. Moore never got a lot of fanfare, but he always gave it his all whenever he stepped on the field.
Caught in the Backfield Glut
With Rashard Mendenhall still rehabbing his ACL and likely to start the season the PUP, Isaac Redman is poised to enter 2012 as the Steelers starter. 
Behind Redman the Steelers have quantity depth but the quality of the depth remains an unknown. Jonathan Dwyer looked good in his only start vs. Tennessee, but he’s had chronic off season conditioning issues and hasn’t been tested extensively.
Barron Batch was a training camp hero last summer in Latrobe before injuring his ACL and, while his potential is real, much remains for him to prove.
Chris Rainey, the Steelers 5th round pick from the 2012 NFL Draft, offers alluring potential but, then again, can’t we say that about every draft pick this time of the year?
John Clay also figures to be in the mix.
With David Johnson moving to full back, the Steelers will likely carry four pure running backs on their roster. Redman and Rainey are locks to make the team, with Dwyer and Batch holding down the other two spots – assuming that Rashard Mendenhall starts the year on the PUP.
  • Steelers coaches liked Moore, with Kriby Wilson likening him to “an old familiar suit case.”
While the Steelers made little or no effort to sign Mewelde Moore, word was that he might become a training camp addition, depending on how the competition at the back up spot played out.
  • For good for or for ill, that Indianapolis has now taken that option off of the table.
Best of luck Mewelde, Steel Curtain Rising wishes you great success in Hoosier country – as long as that success comes not at the expense of the Steelers….

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Steelers 2012 Free Agent Focus

The Pittsburgh Steelers are poised to enter one of the trickest free agent signing periods since the current system began in 1993.

All of that, and they still remain only 8 to 14 million dollars under the salary cap, depending on whose numbers you believe.

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (3)

RB Isaac Redman
DT Steve McLendon
P Jeremy Kapinos

Restricted Free Agents (7)

WR Mike Wallace
TE David Johnson
OT Jamon Meredith
OL Ramon Foster
OL Doug Legursky
CB Keenan Lewis
S Ryan Mundy

Unrestricted Free Agents (10)

QB Charlie Batch
QB Dennis Dixon
QB Byron Leftwich
RB Mewelde Moore
WR Jerricho Cotchery
OT Max Starks
OL Trai Essex
CB William Gay
CB Anthony Madison
P Daniel Sepulveda

Tough Decisions Await the Steelers

A world of scarcity is a world of choices, or so Dr. Peter Meenan, my Economics 102 teacher taught us.

  • For the Steelers, salary cap space is scare and they need to make some tough choices.

As Ed Bouchette pointed out in the Post-Gazette last week the Steelers will likely tender Mike Wallace high enough so that they can get a first round pick if they lose him. And, as Bouchette pointed out in PG Plus today, they’ve got little to no choice but to give Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster second round tenders.

Right there that eats up 6.5 million dollars of the Steelers salary cap space. If they’ve currently got 12 or 14 million of cap space, they have some breathing room, but not a lot.

If they’re only 8 or 10 million under the cap, they have very little room to maneuver.

Assuming that the Steelers tender Keenan Lewis, Ryan Mundy, and David Johnson, which would allow them right of first refusal or a third, 6th, or 7th round draft pick in return for losing them, the Steelers would commit another 3.78 million dollars in salary cap space.

Total all of that up, and the Steelers will have committed 12.08 million dollars to without even thinking of resigning Jerricho Cotchery, William Gay, Byron Leftwich and/or Charlie Batch; or sign their draft picks.

Kevin Colbert and Omar Kahn could still make a few moves. Will Allen could be cut. The Steelers could renegotiate more contracts, although questions abound as to whether deferred to much salary to future years.

Disclaimer….

Steel Curtain Rising has no access to any inside information nor intimate knowledge of the mechanics of the NFL salary cap. What you see above has been gleamed from public sources and the calculations are over the back of an envelop variety.

  • So perhaps the Steelers will find a way to do more with less.

Nonethless, it is safe to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 roster will look quite different from the 2011 edition. In other words, Hines Ward, James Farrior, Chris Kemoeatu, Aaron Smith and Bryant McFadden are far from the only familiar faces that will be missing.

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Maurkice Pouncey Out, Kirby Wilson Injured in Fire

Art Rooney II has got to be asking himself, “What next?”

With each passing day the news out of the South Side gets worse. First Ben Roethlisberger revealed that he suffered a set back vs. Cleveland. Then Maurkice Pouncey showed up on the injury report. Then word came that Pouncey was out for the playoff game vs. Denver.

Both those men are relatively lucky. The Post-Gazette reported that Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson was burned badly when his town home caught fire last night.

The burns are reported to be moderate to severe, but not life threatening. He is reportedly under the care of UMCP-Mercy Hospital.

Steelers Running Game Reeling

This is just the latest blow that the Steelers running game has suffered, dating back to training camp. First rookie Barron Batch, who’d been the star of camp, tore his ACL at St. Vincents.

For the first three quarters of the regular season the position remained stable for the Steelers. Then Jonathan Dwyer injured himself in the Cincinnati game went on injured reserve. Then Mewelde Moore sprained an MCL vs. San Francisco.

Rashard Mendenhall appeared to be coming on strong as the Steelers were entering the stretch run, only to tear his ACL in the season finale vs. Cleveland.

Now they must rely on Isaac Redman to lead them, and Redman must do it without guidance from Wilson, the man whom he credits from helping him grow from being a practice squad wonder to a legitimate NFL running back.

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