No Faneca

Alan Faneca was a no-show Friday. Whether he's upset about the pace of contract negotiations or just taking time off, no one's saying, but it's one more question mark for new line coach Larry Zierlein.

PITTSBURGH – Alan Faneca reported to the Steelers' practice facility Thursday night, but left before practice Friday.

Coach Mike Tomlin doesn't know whether his All-Pro left guard will practice at all this three-day voluntary minicamp, and he doesn't know why Faneca would show up and then leave without working.

"You would have to ask him that," snapped the coach.

It's just another question on top of several questions about an offensive line that disappointed the Steelers last year.

Right now, there's an opening at center, which might be filled by a right guard, who might not even keep his old position even if he doesn't make the move.

There's also the competition at right tackle, where the new coaching staff is taking a look at the player who started last season and the player who finished it. And then there's Faneca's position, which was filled Friday by Chris Kemoeatu.

How does new offensive line coach Larry Zierlein plan to sort through all of these question marks?

"This whole minicamp will be an experiment," said Zierlein. "The next minicamp will be an experiment. And it wouldn't surprise me if the beginning of training camp – I don't want it that way – but it might still be an experiment."

The biggest question mark right now is center. Four players are in the mix to replace the retired Jeff Hartings, and only two – Chukky Okobi and Marvin Philip – scrimmaged at the position Friday. Guard Kendall Simmons only snapped for the third and fourth-team quarterbacks during seven-on-seven drills.

"Sean Mahan has not been here enough to play center for this minicamp because of the blitzes, so he's not getting any reps here and he's a center candidate," Zierlein said of the team's main free-agent acquisition. Mahan instead backed up Kemoeatu yesterday.

"Right now," Zierlein explained, "the number one thing for this center has got to be someone who can hold up physically on a nose guard, because we've seen a lot of nose guards, either 3-4 teams or 4-3 teams that play overs and unders. Very seldom anymore is a center uncovered, so those days, when you said you could just put that smaller, quick kid at center, are about over. You've got to have a guy with a little girth and a little power. That's going to be a determining factor. All three of those guys – Sean, Chukky and Marvin – are smart. They're all going to be able to handle it mentally. It really is going to boil down to just who looks like they're going to hold up when they're covered."

Simmons is bigger than the other three centers. Will that give him an edge?

"Kendall's in the mix, too," was all Zierlein would say. "We want to get some looks with Kendall in there."

Zierlein, 61, is an ex-Marine who coached the Cleveland Browns' offensive line from 2001 to 2004. He was also an assistant with the Buffalo Bills last season. He's coached for 37 years – including a stop at the University of Cincinnati where he met Tomlin – and he isn't fazed by the current swirl of question marks, such as the one at right tackle where Willie Colon hopes to push Max Starks.

"I think Max understands he needs to play a little better maybe than he did last year," Zierlein said. "And Willie has got to take the attitude he can win the job and don't come in thinking he's Max's backup. I like Willie. I liked him coming out of college. He's got a chance to be a darn good player."

So how does a line coach sort it all out?

"At this point we have to give them all reps just to kind of see what we can see, but we do have to get it narrowed as quick as we can. It'd be great going into camp knowing exactly who the center is, who the guards are, and who the tackles are. But I don't have an answer for you right now because we've got to get the right guy and I don't think we can say who the right guy is at this moment."

At this moment, not even Alan Faneca is the right guy. That says it all.

To read the entire interview with Larry Zierlein, click here.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nPITTSBURGH – Alan Faneca reported to the Steelers' practice facility Thursday night, but left before practice Friday. \r\n\r\n

Coach Mike Tomlin doesn't know whether his All-Pro left guard will practice at all this three-day voluntary minicamp, and he doesn't know why Faneca would show up and then leave without working. \r\n\r\n

\"You would have to ask him that,\" snapped the coach. \r\n\r\n

It's just another question on top of several questions about an offensive line that disappointed the Steelers last year. \r\n\r\n

Right now, there's an opening at center, which might be filled by a right guard, who might not even keep his old position even if he doesn't make the move.

There's also the competition at right tackle, where the new coaching staff is taking a look at the player who started last season and the player who finished it. And then there's Faneca's position, which was filled Friday by Chris Kemoeatu. \r\n\r\n

How does new offensive line coach Larry Zierlein plan to sort through all of these question marks? \r\n\r\n

\"This whole minicamp will be an experiment,\" said Zierlein. \"The next minicamp will be an experiment. And it wouldn't surprise me if the beginning of training camp – I don't want it that way – but it might still be an experiment.\" \r\n\r\n

The biggest question mark right now is center. Four players are in the mix to replace the retired Jeff Hartings, and only two – Chukky Okobi and Marvin Philip – scrimmaged at the position Friday. Guard Kendall Simmons only snapped for the third and fourth-team quarterbacks during seven-on-seven drills. \r\n\r\n

\"Sean Mahan has not been here enough to play center for this minicamp because of the blitzes, so he's not getting any reps here and he's a center candidate,\" Zierlein said of the team's main free-agent acquisition. Mahan instead backed up Kemoeatu yesterday. \r\n\r\n

\"Right now,\" Zierlein explained, \"the number one thing for this center has got to be someone who can hold up physically on a nose guard, because we've seen a lot of nose guards, either 3-4 teams or 4-3 teams that play overs and unders. Very seldom anymore is a center uncovered, so those days, when you said you could just put that smaller, quick kid at center, are about over. You've got to have a guy with a little girth and a little power. That's going to be a determining factor. All three of those guys – Sean, Chukky and Marvin – are smart. They're all going to be able to handle it mentally. It really is going to boil down to just who looks like they're going to hold up when they're covered.\" \r\n\r\n

Simmons is bigger than the other three centers. Will that give him an edge? \r\n\r\n

\"Kendall's in the mix, too,\" was all Zierlein would say. \"We want to get some looks with Kendall in there.\" \r\n\r\n

Zierlein, 61, is an ex-Marine who coached the Cleveland Browns' offensive line from 2001 to 2004. He was also an assistant with the Buffalo Bills last season. He's coached for 37 years – including a stop at the University of Cincinnati where he met Tomlin – and he isn't fazed by the current swirl of question marks, such as the one at right tackle where Willie Colon hopes to push Max Starks. \r\n\r\n

\"I think Max understands he needs to play a little better maybe than he did last year,\" Zierlein said. \"And Willie has got to take the attitude he can win the job and don't come in thinking he's Max's backup. I like Willie. I liked him coming out of college. He's got a chance to be a darn good player.\" \r\n\r\n

So how does a line coach sort it all out? \r\n\r\n

\"At this point we have to give them all reps just to kind of see what we can see, but we do have to get it narrowed as quick as we can. It'd be great going into camp knowing exactly who the center is, who the guards are, and who the tackles are. But I don't have an answer for you right now because we've got to get the right guy and I don't think we can say who the right guy is at this moment.\" \r\n\r\n

At this moment, not even Alan Faneca is the right guy. That says it all. \r\n\r\n

To read the entire interview with Larry Zierlein, click here. \r\n","mobileBody":" \r\n\r\n\r\nPITTSBURGH – Alan Faneca reported to the Steelers' practice facility Thursday night, but left before practice Friday. \r\n\r\n

Coach Mike Tomlin doesn't know whether his All-Pro left guard will practice at all this three-day voluntary minicamp, and he doesn't know why Faneca would show up and then leave without working. \r\n\r\n

\"You would have to ask him that,\" snapped the coach. \r\n\r\n

It's just another question on top of several questions about an offensive line that disappointed the Steelers last year. \r\n\r\n

Right now, there's an opening at center, which might be filled by a right guard, who might not even keep his old position even if he doesn't make the move.

There's also the competition at right tackle, where the new coaching staff is taking a look at the player who started last season and the player who finished it. And then there's Faneca's position, which was filled Friday by Chris Kemoeatu. \r\n\r\n

How does new offensive line coach Larry Zierlein plan to sort through all of these question marks? \r\n\r\n

\"This whole minicamp will be an experiment,\" said Zierlein. \"The next minicamp will be an experiment. And it wouldn't surprise me if the beginning of training camp – I don't want it that way – but it might still be an experiment.\" \r\n\r\n

The biggest question mark right now is center. Four players are in the mix to replace the retired Jeff Hartings, and only two – Chukky Okobi and Marvin Philip – scrimmaged at the position Friday. Guard Kendall Simmons only snapped for the third and fourth-team quarterbacks during seven-on-seven drills. \r\n\r\n

\"Sean Mahan has not been here enough to play center for this minicamp because of the blitzes, so he's not getting any reps here and he's a center candidate,\" Zierlein said of the team's main free-agent acquisition. Mahan instead backed up Kemoeatu yesterday. \r\n\r\n

\"Right now,\" Zierlein explained, \"the number one thing for this center has got to be someone who can hold up physically on a nose guard, because we've seen a lot of nose guards, either 3-4 teams or 4-3 teams that play overs and unders. Very seldom anymore is a center uncovered, so those days, when you said you could just put that smaller, quick kid at center, are about over. You've got to have a guy with a little girth and a little power. That's going to be a determining factor. All three of those guys – Sean, Chukky and Marvin – are smart. They're all going to be able to handle it mentally. It really is going to boil down to just who looks like they're going to hold up when they're covered.\" \r\n\r\n

Simmons is bigger than the other three centers. Will that give him an edge? \r\n\r\n

\"Kendall's in the mix, too,\" was all Zierlein would say. \"We want to get some looks with Kendall in there.\" \r\n\r\n

Zierlein, 61, is an ex-Marine who coached the Cleveland Browns' offensive line from 2001 to 2004. He was also an assistant with the Buffalo Bills last season. He's coached for 37 years – including a stop at the University of Cincinnati where he met Tomlin – and he isn't fazed by the current swirl of question marks, such as the one at right tackle where Willie Colon hopes to push Max Starks. \r\n\r\n

\"I think Max understands he needs to play a little better maybe than he did last year,\" Zierlein said. \"And Willie has got to take the attitude he can win the job and don't come in thinking he's Max's backup. I like Willie. I liked him coming out of college. He's got a chance to be a darn good player.\" \r\n\r\n

So how does a line coach sort it all out? \r\n\r\n

\"At this point we have to give them all reps just to kind of see what we can see, but we do have to get it narrowed as quick as we can. It'd be great going into camp knowing exactly who the center is, who the guards are, and who the tackles are. But I don't have an answer for you right now because we've got to get the right guy and I don't think we can say who the right guy is at this moment.\" \r\n\r\n

At this moment, not even Alan Faneca is the right guy. That says it all. \r\n\r\n

To read the entire interview with Larry Zierlein, click here. \r\n","skipOnMobile":true,"skipOnMobileReason":"Unsupported Markup","unsupportedMarkup":"body","media":[],"dateOverride":"2007-04-20T16:40:00","authorOverride":"Jim Wexell","role":"SteelCityInsider.com","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:391886]","mainImage":{"url":"[MEDIA:391886]"},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:397260]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"Free Agency","name":"Free Agency"},{"id":"592","name":"Florida"},{"id":"10026","name":"Florida - Football"},{"id":"696","name":"Notre Dame"},{"id":"595","name":"LSU"},{"id":"9931","name":"Notre Dame - Football"},{"id":"10032","name":"LSU - Football"},{"id":"182","name":"Pittsburgh Steelers"}],"nodes":["3037364","2476463","2981404","99","704","739","748","2119","2146"],"isActive":true,"inActiveAndMemberHasPublishRights":false,"createdOn":"2007-04-20T16:47:24.83","createdById":"166721","modifiedOn":"2015-12-18T13:15:35.227","modifiedBy":"51458","imgs":[],"viewStats":[],"hasVideo":false,"brandUnsafe":false,"breakingNews":false},"editorsChoice":{"siteUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1704973-energy-bringers-badasses","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1722620-sci-teams-sports-illustrated","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1644408-long-may-heath-run","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1626251-ups-and-downs-shazier-playcaller","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1614465-qa-peezy-deebo"],"networkUrls":["http://www.scout.com/college/indiana/story/1765761-sources-iu-picks-archie-miller"],"topRibbonWidgets":[],"carouselStoryUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1764984-steelers-interested-massive-te","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1764673-steelers-sign-ironman-alualu","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1764590-could-a-safety-lb-hybrid-replace-timmons","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1764421-steelers-sign-knile-davis","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1763601-steelersfree-agency-phase-ii"],"storyStreamUrls":[],"storyStreamBlacklistUrls":[],"videoStories":[{"type":"StorySummary","containerType":"StorySummary","id":"1762221","siteId":"68","isPublicSite":true,"subdomain":"pit","siteFolder":"/nfl/steelers","canonicalUrl":"http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1762221-film-sets-budda-baker-free","shortUrl":"http://pit.scout.com/story/1762221-film-sets-budda-baker-free","siteName":"Steel City Insider","forumName":"","friendlySubdomain":"Pittsburgh","title":"Film Sets Budda Baker Free","subtitle":"","seotitle":"Safety Fits Steelers' Nickel","caption":"","deck":"Budda Bakaer drew raves after his performance Saturday at Washington's pro day. 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