CB Deshea Townsend, FS Chris Hope (shoulder), LB Dedrick Roper (knee), RB Duce Staley (knee) Jerome Bettis (thigh) CB Chad Scott has an abdominal strain.
TE Jerame Tuman (elbow) OLB Clark Haggans (broken fingers) .
Tommy Maddox, Ben Roethlisberger, Brian St. Pierre, Kurt Kittner, Charlie Batch (IR)
Starter Tommy Maddox is a technician, his mechanics are sound and his feel for the position and the pocket are excellent. However his high count of mistakes and lack of mobility led the team to drafting Ben Roethlisberger, who in my opinion was clearly the best quarterback in the draft. Expect Tommy to play for a quarter before letting Roethlisberger take over. In a nutshell Roethlisberger is a pocket type quarterback with a huge arm and pretty good accuracy. His field vision is excellent, but like Maddox, don't expect him to do much with his feet. Brian St. Pierre doesn't have a cannon but his accuracy is generally on in the short-mid range passing game. He's a mobile kid who can maintain accuracy without having to plant and throw on the run, and he's improving in reading the field and checking down. He still needs to be more disciplined and poised. Newly signed Kurt Kittner could see time, he has great mechanics and ok accuracy, but his arm strength is sub-par.
Running Back: Duce Staley, Jerome Bettis, Verron Haynes, Dante Brown, Willie
Fullback: Dan Kreider, JT Wall
Duce Staley seems to be a perfect fit in the Steelers running system. Although he lacks big play ability, Staley is a model of consistency on the inside, rarely going down on first contact and fighting for every inch. He's also a capable blocker and is an elusive route runner with reliable hands. The Steelers are hoping Jerome Bettis "The Bus" still has some gas left in his tank. Jerome is still the huge power runner that can blow over defenders but his quickness and burst have went downhill quickly. He can still pick up the tough yards but his ability to make 10+ yard runs just isn't there anymore. Verron Haynes is another power type, he's built well and can read running lanes fairly well. He has a bit more quickness than Staley and his hands are pretty good. He could be a wild card backup, look for him to make an impact. Dante Brown and Willie Parker will both see a good amount of carries, both give the team a more athletic blend, a nice change of pace from the power runners in front of them. Fullback Dan Kreider is an excellent lead blocker while backup JT Wall is decent blocker himself but gives the team more of a receiving option than Kreider.
Receivers & Tight Ends
Split End: Plaxico Burress, Lee Mays, Chris Doering, Huey Whittaker
Flanker: Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El, Freddie Milons, Zamir Cobb
Tight End: Jerame Tuman, Jay Riemersma, Matt Cushing, Matt Kranchick, Bobby Blizzard
Hines Ward is one of the hardest guys to cover one on one. His quickness, hands and strength make him one of the top receivers in the league. Plaxico Burress is coming off a dissapointing 03' season but he's one of the best vertical threats around. He needs to focus on his consistency and focus this preseason. Lee Mays isn't very physical but he's got ideal quickness and he runs crisp routes. Antwaan Randle El's home is in the slot where he can do alot of damage in the seams. His speed, quickness and ability to create after the catch make him a true gamebreaker. Chris Doering is a big target at 6'4 and his hands are reliable. He doesn't have ideal speed or stength but he feels the passing game out well and can be a productive possession receiver. Freddie Milons can make plays but is very raw and undersized. Watch for Huey Whittaker and Zamir Cobb. Whittaker is big (6'4 222) strong and has solid hands. He doesn't have great speed and is a tad raw but he can make plays in the mid range passing game. Cobb is a home run threat everytime he touches the ball.
The Steelers have a big hole at tight end, where Jerame Tuman will start. Both him and Jay Riemersma are finesse type blockers who really won't drive anyone off the line but they do a adequate job of shielding off their side. Both are really not productive as receivers, but will be used more often in the red zone. Matt Cushing is in the same mold, a blocking type who doesn't do anything special on the receiving end. Watch for Bobby Blizzard, he has great hands and he's a big target who can get open in the short-mid range passing game.
Left Tackle: Marvel Smith, Barrett Brooks, Bo Lacy
Left Guard: Alan Faneca, Keydrick Vincent, Morgan Pears
Center: Jeff Hartings, Chukky Okobi, Drew Caylor
Right Guard: Kendall Simmons, Josh Parrish
Right Tackle: Oliver Ross, Todd Fordham, Max Starks
The starting interior is very strong, Faneca and Hartings, a former Lion, are nasty run blockers who can move mountains together. The other guard Kendell Simmons is an outstanding pass protector who has showed dominant streaks. Marvel Smith is an excellent athlete who can become a very solid pass protector if he can play more consistently. Oliver Ross isn't much more than an average player. Two veterans back up the flanks with Todd Fordham and Barrett Brooks. Fordham lacks athletic abilty but is disciplined and works hard to get good results. Brooks has more athleticism and can play well in space but doesn't have the strength and technique to take his game to the next level. The youngsters Max Starks and Bo Lacy should see alot of snaps. Starks is an intriguing prospect because of his size and ability to dominate as a run blocker. Bo Lacy shows potential on the left side as well. On the interior Chukky Okobi and Keydrick Vincent are steady players who fit the backup role nicely. The young prospects behind them though are un-inspiring.
LDE- Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, David Upchurch, Anthony Herron
RDE- Kimo Von Oelhoffen, Travis Kirschke, Grant Bowman
NT- Casey Hampton, Kendrick Clancy, Chris Hoke
Nose tackle Casey Hampton is possibly the most valuable player at his middle position. He eats up a ton of space and has the strength to beat double teams. Kendrick Clancy really doesn't fit the two gap scheme very well but his strong point is quickness and range. Chris Hoke is a hard worker who has a nose for the ball but isn't strong enough to hold up at the point of attack or be a imposing pass rusher. At the ends will be returners Aaron Smith and Kimo Von Oelhoffen. Both fill their roles well of stuffing the run while giving the team a decent pass rush despite their size. Former Lion Travis Kirschke and Brett Keisel will be the reserves. Kirschke isn't anything special but gives the team a run stuffing option on the outside. Keisel doesn't have the ideal bulk for the 3-4 scheme, but he gives the team a rangy player from the end. David Upchurch and Grant Bowman will see time as well.
LOLB- Clark Haggans (INJ), Alonzo Jackson, Nathaniel Adibi, Nick McNeil,
LILB- James Farrior, Clint Kriewaldt
RILB- Kendrell Bell, Larry Foote, Allen Augustin
ROLB- Joey Porter
On the inside will be James Farrior and Kendrell Bell. Bell is a bull at the point of attack, an active run stuffer and all around play maker. His only weakness is in coverage where he struggled last season in nickel packages. Farrior is quite the opposite, he's average at the point of attack but can pursue well and is excellent in coverage. His backup, former Lion Clint Kriewaldt is mostly a special teams player and a liability as a linebacker. Larry Foote is solid player, he pursues the play well and can help out sideline to sideline. He doesn't have great strength but his coverage skills are much needed in the nickel scheme. On the outside is where the pass rushing is done. Alonzo Jackson and Nathaniel Adibi are converted defensive ends who have optimum speed. Both are projects but could make an impact. Nick McNeil and Adrian Ross are all quick youngsters who will see time.
LCB- Ricardo Colclough, Chidi Iwuoma, Terry Fair, Deshea Townsend (INJ)
RCB- Ike Taylor, Willie Williams, Nashville Dyer, Chad Scott (INJ)
SS- Troy Polamalu, Shane Walton
FS- Mike Logan, Ainsley Battles, Chris Hope (INJ)
Two youngsters will start at the corners in rookie Ricardo Colclough and Ike Taylor. Colclough is a tremedous athlete but is still raw in his reads, notably in zone coverage. Ike Taylor is a decent man coverage option, he has above average physical skills and can jam some receivers. He needs to improve mentally, he has lapses at times and has trouble locating the ball occasionally. Veteran Willie Williams will see time as well, he doesn't have great size but he is disciplined and gets position well. Nashville Dyer and former Lions' Chidi Iwouma and Terry Fair will take over for this trio sometime in the second half. Troy Polamalu is a tough run stuffer who has the speed to cover sideline to sideline. He has elite potential but must become more disciplined. His backup Shane Walton is a converted tailback who can has enough physical play but has below average instincts and field vision. Free safety Mike Logan is at his best blitzing or playing in the box. He's a liability in zone coverage and doesn't have the quickness to stick with slot receivers down field. Ainsley Battles will see time as well.