Zoopnsteel: What can you tell us about Demetrius Taylor? What are the chances of him making the final roster as a fullback?
I know little other than what I've reported, that his tree-trunk legs are responsible for his 273-pound reading on the scale, that he doesn't look as fat as any other 273-pound running back, that he has decent hands but lacks any real experience at the position since he played defense at Virginia Tech. I doubt he'll make the roster, but the practice squad and a future at the position are not out of the question.
WYSteeler: Outside of Maurkice Pouncey, which rookie do you see having the most impact this year?
Jonathan Dwyer will make the roster and, because of the lack of numbers in the backfield, he could surprise; and an injury would thrust Jason Worilds immediately into the lineup. But the rookie with the best chance of impacting the team is Emmanuel Sanders. I say that not because of anything he showed at minicamp, but because the No. 3 WR spot and the return jobs can be won his preseason. Scouts tell me Sanders has the kind of quickness to jump up and grab those jobs.
Omeany: What's your guess for our 10 O-linemen this year, post draft? Is there a chance Justin Hartwig will not make the team or not start this year?
Since Hartwig is recovering from shoulder surgery, coming off another un-inspiring season, yes it's possible he'll be cut. But let me answer your first question. I'll take Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Doug Legursky, Maurkice Pouncey and Willie Colon right now. I realize it's a bit of a stretch to list Legursky as a lock, but that's my opinion right now. I'm assuming the team remains hopeful about Ramon Foster and Kraig Urbik, and brought Jonathan Scott in for a reason. Chris Scott was drafted in the fifth round and will be given every benefit, so that's nine. I don't think it would be very smart at all to cut Trai Essex, so that's 10 with enough versatility to satisfy depth at every position. So, to my thinking, they could get away with cutting Hartwig. But I don't know if that even remotely resembles their thinking.
Wefjr: Will Sunny Harris get any looks at NT? He's listed as 6-5. Does that make him too tall?
I assume that makes him too tall, but my reason for not moving him from end to nose tackle is that he's never played the position and the team has five who have: Casey Hampton, Chris Hoke, Scott Paxson, Steve McLendon and Cordarrow Thompson.
Rushncover: Given the renewed emphasis on the run game, do you think Toby Gerhart was a legitimate target in round two had the Vikes not traded up in front of us to nab him?
I haven't heard of any interest in Gerhart, but then again I haven't asked about him. I had predicted the Steelers would draft an outside linebacker in the second round and a running back in the sixth, and they did that on both counts. So I really didn't have any questions in my mind about that. If I get the chance, I'll look into it, but my gut tells me they weren't that interested in the big back from Stanford.
Ironman63: If a chicken and a half lays an egg and a half, in a day and a half, how long would it take a monkey with a wooden leg to kick all the seeds out of a dill pickle? And were the Steelers confident of the B-Mac deal going down not to draft a CB in the first 4 rounds?
I'll go with six hours on the first question, only because it would take the monkey some time to get a handle on the pickle. And, yes, the Steelers were confident of the Bryant McFadden deal going down, and it was a good thing because once the first round was over. the cornerback crop was thinner than I'd considered. For whatever reason, I thought the kid from IUP could be their sleeper pick. I based that solely on his height, weight and track times.
WISteeler: Hypothetical: Steelers go a decisive 4-0 to start the season with Byron Leftwich at the helm. Roger Goodell decides four games is enough for Ben Roethlisberger. What does Mike Tomlin do for game five after the bye?
I'm assuming Roethlisberger gets his job back. But if he shows he's lacking in any aspect, and Leftwich plays above and beyond what the 4-0 record indicates, there could be a change in my thinking. At this point, it's tough to see Roethlisberger on the bench all season. And I figure the earlier fans are allowed to express themselves, the earlier the healing process can begin.
Steelmann58: Jim, it seems like the Steelers are now lacking the home run-hitting speed back now that they lost Fast Willie Parker. What do you think the Steelers will try to do to replace him?
At the end of the season I wrote that Willie Parker never suited Tomlin's ideal at the position, and that I doubted Parker would be offered a contract so that the personnel office would be forced to find a between-the-tackles runner. All of that came to pass, so I don't believe we'll see a home run hitter in the backfield other than Rashard Mendenhall. I think they're hoping WR Emmanuel Sanders can be the next breakaway threat. Don't toss Stefan Logan out of the arsenal yet.
SteelerinTO: Jim, sorry to be the one to ask this. Do you feel Ben was genuine and contrite with his written apology?
My guess is he underestimated the impact of trying to remain too cool about it all. I'm sure he's sorry about what this entire incident has done to himself and his team.
Fellasheowed: McFadden, Foote, Randle El all coming back, the draft, re-signing Hampton and Clark, does all of this add up to a shift in power in making personnel decisions vs. the way they were made the last couple of years? Have someone's wings been clipped? I'm asking because the Starks situation (and probably a couple others I am too lazy to recall) made it appear that the coaches and front office were not on the same page. Has the chain of command been clarified?
I doubt the front office and coaching staff of any team are always on the same page, and therefore I don't believe the Steelers' chain of command was ever an issue. In the Starks case, he was valued by the FO and benched by the coaching staff, but became a savior when injuries forced him to left tackle. The FO was right in that case, but Kevin Colbert doesn't have the ego to forget that being right is a temporary state.
While they hope to be on the same page, and for the most part the Steelers' factions are, the FO will never dictate to the staff who plays and/or where. The personnel department's job is to provide personnel, and Colbert does the best he can, with the coach and the beancounters always in mind.