Mahan goes first team

It was Sean Mahan's turn to climb into the center of action Tuesday as the Pittsburgh Steelers continued their OTAs here at the South Side practice facility.

And Mahan, the Steelers' biggest offseason free agent acquisition, not only lined up with the first team at the center position, he did so with the second team as well as the team continues its search to figure out who will replace retired Pro Bowler Jeff Hartings.

"Right now is the time the coaching staff is just looking at all kind of combinations out there trying to figure out who can play and who is versatile," said Mahan, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "No positions are won or lost right now. That won't happen until we put the pads on."

But Mahan wasn't signed to a 5-year, $17-million contract to be a backup. And Tuesday was a big step for him as the team closes in on wrapping up its optional practice sessions at the end of next week.

"I'm probably more naturally a center," said Mahan, who started at both guard and center for Tampa Bay. "But I've taken more game reps at guard in my career. But I feel like I can play it all, wherever the team needs me."

What about tackle?

"No tackle, but you never know," Mahan said with a laugh.

In fact, right tackle Max Starks taking a day off may have precipitated Mahan's move to the first-team center spot a little earlier than the Steelers would have liked.

With Starks sitting out Tuesday, Willie Colon, who had been running with the first team at center Monday, moved over to right tackle.

But instead of moving Chukky Okobi or Marvin Philip into the first-team line, the team went with Mahan, with Okobi and Philip lining up at guard next to Mahan on the second team unit.

"This is especially important for a guy like me who is coming in and trying to learn a new system," said Mahan. "I'm getting a lot of attention from the coaches and I'm getting a feel for the guys I'm going to line up next to."

© Could Trai Essex be eating himself out of the league?

Essex looks heavy right now, heavier, in fact, than he has ever looked before.

Considering he's in his early 20s, the team has to be concerned about Essex in the long term.

One of his strong points coming out of college was his quick feet. But one has to wonder how quick those feet will be - and if he'll still be able to handle left tackle - if he can't control his weight.

© Once again, the Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller hookup looks to be working well as the two connected on a number of nice plays Tuesday.

If Miller doesn't have to stay in and block as much as he did last season, he could be primed for a big year.

New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has gone on record as saying that the tight ends will combine for 90 catches this season. The way things look now, Miller could be good for 60 of those catches.

© Special teams practice still takes up a large portion of the drills now. One has to wonder if that will continue into training camp?

The Steelers will have two-a-days nearly every day in camp this year – a change from the past – so new head coach Mike Tomlin may want to really hammer the offense and defense once the pads go on.

© Chidi Iwuoma is working with a cast on his right hand. So much for non-contact drills.

© On one kickoff coverage play, defensive end Ryan McBean came charging down as a wedge buster and not only accomplished that feat, but also had the ballcarrier squarely lined up before pulling up.

McBean does not look or run like a 290-pound man.

© LaMarr Woodley appears noticeably thinner already, looking a lot more like a linebacker now than a defensive end.

With the added pounds gone, Woodley should be much lighter on his feet.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nAnd Mahan, the Steelers' biggest offseason free agent acquisition,\r\nnot only lined up with the first team at the center position, he did\r\nso with the second team as well as the team continues its search to\r\nfigure out who will replace retired Pro Bowler Jeff Hartings.\r\n\r\n

\"Right now is the time the coaching staff is just looking at all\r\nkind of combinations out there trying to figure out who can play and\r\nwho is versatile,\" said Mahan, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers. \"No\r\npositions are won or lost right now. That won't happen until we put\r\nthe pads on.\"\r\n\r\n

But Mahan wasn't signed to a 5-year, $17-million contract to be a\r\nbackup. And Tuesday was a big step for him as the team closes in on\r\nwrapping up its optional practice sessions at the end of next week.\r\n\r\n

\"I'm probably more naturally a center,\" said Mahan, who started at\r\nboth guard and center for Tampa Bay. \"But I've taken more game reps\r\nat\r\nguard in my career. But I feel like I can play it all, wherever the\r\nteam needs me.\"\r\n\r\n

What about tackle?\r\n\r\n

\"No tackle, but you never know,\" Mahan said with a laugh.\r\n\r\n

In fact, right tackle Max Starks taking a day off may have\r\nprecipitated Mahan's move to the first-team center spot a little\r\nearlier than the Steelers would have liked.\r\n\r\n

With Starks sitting out Tuesday, Willie Colon, who had been\r\nrunning\r\nwith the first team at center Monday, moved over to right tackle.\r\n\r\n

But instead of moving Chukky Okobi or Marvin Philip into the\r\nfirst-team line, the team went with Mahan, with Okobi and Philip\r\nlining up at guard next to Mahan on the second team unit.\r\n\r\n

\"This is especially important for a guy like me who is coming in\r\nand trying to learn a new system,\" said Mahan. \"I'm getting a lot of\r\nattention from the coaches and I'm getting a feel for the guys I'm\r\ngoing to line up next to.\"\r\n\r\n

© Could Trai Essex be eating himself out of the league?\r\n\r\n

Essex looks heavy right now, heavier, in fact, than he has ever\r\nlooked before.\r\n\r\n

Considering he's in his early 20s, the team has to be concerned\r\nabout Essex in the long term.\r\n\r\n

One of his strong points coming out of college was his quick feet.\r\nBut one has to wonder how quick those feet will be - and if he'll\r\nstill be able to handle left tackle - if he can't control his weight.\r\n\r\n

© Once again, the Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller hookup looks\r\nto be working well as the two connected on a number of nice plays\r\nTuesday.\r\n\r\n

If Miller doesn't have to stay in and block as much as he did last\r\nseason, he could be primed for a big year.\r\n\r\n

New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has gone on record as\r\nsaying\r\nthat the tight ends will combine for 90 catches this season. The way\r\nthings look now, Miller could be good for 60 of those catches.\r\n\r\n

© Special teams practice still takes up a large portion of the\r\ndrills now. One has to wonder if that will continue into training\r\ncamp?\r\n\r\n

The Steelers will have two-a-days nearly every day in camp this\r\nyear – a change from the past – so new head coach Mike Tomlin may\r\nwant\r\nto really hammer the offense and defense once the pads go on.\r\n\r\n

© Chidi Iwuoma is working with a cast on his right hand. So much\r\nfor non-contact drills.\r\n\r\n

© On one kickoff coverage play, defensive end Ryan McBean came\r\ncharging down as a wedge buster and not only accomplished that feat,\r\nbut also had the ballcarrier squarely lined up before pulling up.\r\n\r\n

McBean does not look or run like a 290-pound man.\r\n\r\n

© LaMarr Woodley appears noticeably thinner already, looking a lot\r\nmore like a linebacker now than a defensive end.\r\n\r\n

With the added pounds gone, Woodley should be much lighter on his\r\nfeet.\r\n\r\n

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter\r\n","mobileBody":" ","skipOnMobile":true,"media":[],"dateOverride":"2007-06-06T05:34:00","authorOverride":"Dale Lolley","role":"SteelCityInsider.com","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:408934]","mainImage":{},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:408934]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"696","name":"Notre Dame"},{"id":"9931","name":"Notre Dame - Football"},{"id":"182","name":"Pittsburgh 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