Folks, I tell you it was a perfect night to bust a few heads, and some moves. As usual I took up recon for the first game in the Steelers end zone for warm-ups. I always enjoy watching the too hyped rookies co-mingling with laid-back vets eager to hit something that's not a friendly.
Number one on the have to watch list is that big ol' Tongan, Chris Kemoeatu. If there's a more samurai-looking dude in the NFL, I haven't seen him. Let's face it, when you have to step in for a legend, following Big Red is as tough as it gets.
As the Steelers are going through their warm-ups, I'm eyeballing number 68. He looks sleeker to me. More aerodynamically sound. But that brace on his left arm is huge. I'd have had a hard time playing with that monstrosity hanging off me. Plus, because it cuts off his lockout ability, what we used to call "you" games, where the tackle goes into the G-T gap and the end loops around behind the tackle, it could be troublesome.
First and ten from their own 20-yard line, Willie Parker over the right side for four yards. It's a monster mash on the backside and I can't get a good peek as to what big boy does.
Second and six, Parker hits off the right side. Chris K. cuts off the backside on a down lineman and his pad level is way too high. He crosses over on his first step, which automatically puts him a half step or so behind the defensive hog he's locked up with. No problem; a cutoff is a cutoff.
After the facemask penalty, Fast Willie goes left and Chris has a "read" block with C Sean Mahan. Chris pumps the NT, and comes off on the backside backer. He allows the backer to play over the top and cross his face. Needs to work on his angles to ensure a captive one-on-one audience with his man.
On the next play, 68 pulls and I see a little better hoofing than in the past from Chris. He leads Mendenhall around the right side and gets a lick on the backer, but he runs out of legs. One thing I'm sure that Chris will hear a thousand times from Larry Zierlein is to "finish" his blocks.
The show-stopper, though, is the goring that follows. Bunkley is on the ground, and 68 goes for the mercy kill. It made my night.
Let's move on to other people, shall we? How about a better muscled up Lawrence Timmons? Opening kickoff, who answers the bell? Sir Lawrence.
Later on from scrimmage he makes a tackle that I was sure the back had the corner. Timmons hits the afterburners and makes the play after a short gain.
Later on, Lawrence covers an Eagles receiver like a bedspread on a mattress. Perfect position, timed his leap, good stuff.
Eagles tackle John Runyan will have his motor running a little higher in the re-match after getting a gander at Lamar Woodley. Woodley showed Runyan the back of his heels after a superb spin move on a pass rush; excellent, because Woodley is adding to his bag of trick-i-fications. He has a nice power move, and is learning to play the edge of a man on a rush, rather than attacking the central core.
What made the spin so good is that power rush, and a giant uppercut. When you can move a redwood like Runyan, and sink an uppercut, Runyan then has to start to guess a little. He has to overplay the edge. And then whammo! Spin city and watch Runyan try to hold, trip, then leg whip (a trifecta, if you please).
So many guys, so little time. Kemoeatu drove a steak into the ground and has a starting point on which to build. And to be measured in his progress as he tries to step in for a legend, consistency, as always, will be the tale of the tape for him.
Timmons and Woodley were fun to watch, and bring a bang with them. In particular, Woodley is the guy that could have a breakout year. The sky is the limit for him. Sir Lawrence could b