Troy Polamalu heads for the end zone after an interception against the Dolphins at Heinz Field in December.
Ed Bouchette: A little early start today. Let's chat
Joseph, Oakland: Bigger draft need: WR or CB?
Ed Bouchette: They need cornerbacks more desperately than they need wide receivers. That does not necessarily mean they will draft a corner in the first round ahead of a wide receiver. They might even draft the nose tackle from Notre Dame everyone seems to be picking for them. It's just that I believe their biggest needs are in the secondary.
BDenny29: How do you see the backfield shaping up after Bell? Will LSH get a chance to come back? Would they take a late round flyer on a versatile back in the draft like Marion Grice?
Ed Bouchette: LaRod Stephens-Howling will have a chance, provided they deem him both healthy enough after overcoming the ACL injury in the 2013 opener, and still capable. Todd Haley still prides a back like him, but so far they've come up empty with Chris Rainey and now the injury to LSH. They may make a stab at re-signing Jonathan Dwyer. Other than that, it's the draft and possibly a low-cost UFA.
Guest: We know the Steelers wont be big players in free agency, but do you see them targeting any particular under the radar free agents?
Ed Bouchette: They often do. Last year, it was Bruce Gradkowski and Stephens-Howling. They also added two former Steelers, William Gay and Matt Spaeth, who were cut by their new teams. I cannot tell you who they might target this time.
BDenny29: There seems to be a lot of talk about how Ben and Haley got along better as the season went along. What's your view on their working relationship heading into this season?
Ed Bouchette: Much better, and they did both work on it last year. They're never going to be chummy, there will be no relationship like the one Roethlisberger had with Bruce Arians. But that's OK. Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw had little more than a working relationship, and even Ken Whisenhunt and Ben were not buds, but they did win a Super Bowl together. All anyone can ask is that they have a good working relationship.
dave: Would they franchise Worilds if they can't sign him to a new contract?
Ed Bouchette: It does not sound that way. Kevin Colbert called it doubtful that they would use the franchise tag this year. They did use it on LaMarr Woodley in March 2011 and then signed him to a six-year contract that August.
Brandon: Will this (2014) be the end of the road for Troy?
Ed Bouchette: I believe he will play in 2014. After that might depend on how he plays in 2014.
Tucke: Ed I love Tomlin, don't get me wrong I wouldn't want any other coach in the league however with this being a what have you done for me lately league, how warm does his seat become if the Steelers fail to make the playoffs again?
Ed Bouchette: Warmer, perhaps, but not hot.
Hugh jazz: What do you think of nick collins or stevie brown. After the steelers take care of their own FAs could they perhaps try to rent one of those guys for a year provided they are healthy and affordable?
Ed Bouchette: Nick Collins, a safety, hasn't played since a neck injury sidelined him in the second week of the 2011 season. He says he is healed. They'd have to do a thorough medical and workout before they would go there. Brown, another safety, will turn 27 this summer. He is coming off ACL surgery from the preseason in 2013 and the same would hold true for him.
ssa76: Hey, did anyone ever say why Troy didn't play in the Pro Bowl?
Ed Bouchette: I think he backed out because of "injury.'' Like other players who did so, he had no apparent injury.
HoyaSteeler: Will someone else present Bettis to the HOF committee next year? Ed Bouchette: They are talking about possibly allowing the teams to make a video presentation of 3-5 minutes long. I'm all for it.
mark: why has it been such a struggle for the steelers to find an adequate punter.....do they just not place enough emphasis on the position or poor decision making. I think they just signed another punter...thoughts?
Ed Bouchette: They did sign a punter, Brad Wing, another Aussie. They showed how much importance they put in punters when they drafted Daniel Sepulveda on the fourth round, trading their sixth-round pick to move higher to take him. They also won two Super Bowls in the past decade with below-the-line punters.
Edy: What do you make of the Delmas visit? He is a hard hitter as I also follow the Lions a bit but his knee could scare off some teams. He could be a good fit opposite Troy if/when Ryan Clark gets cut. Your thought?
Ed Bouchette: I believe they are doing their due diligence, checking him out. We will see if they make him an offer.
Tom: People seem to be assuming we can just cut Woodely because we will sign Worilds. Do you really think Worilds is just going to take what the Steelers offer and sign? There is always that one team that has a ton of money to spend and overpays right?
Ed Bouchette: The Steelers are in a tough spot with Jason Worilds, who has been rated among the top outside linebackers available in free agency. On the other hand, he's only really done it for half a season and that might cause teams to be cautious. They do not have to cut Woodley before they try to sign Worilds. If they cannot sign Worilds, I would expect them to keep Woodley and hope they can get a healthy year out of him.
dave: Do they want to re-sign Keisel and Hood?
Ed Bouchette: Brett Keisel is one of their favorites and I could see them making him a one-year, minimum offer.
Tim: Would Steelers be a team that might take a chance on Jonathan Martin? Former second rounder who would come to stable organization and locker room.
Ed Bouchette: I'm not sure where he would play.
ssa76: Seems like there's a lot of FA WR out there. Would you cut Sanders anyway, even if he doesn't get a big offer?
Ed Bouchette: Emmanuel Sanders' contract expires March 11. There will be no cutting him. The Steelers would welcome him back if they could get him back on the cheap, but that does not sound as though it has any chance of happening because enough other teams want him.
Chris: I can just assume Sanders won't be back and the Steelers will take a receiver in the first round, right?
Ed Bouchette: I would not assume the Steelers will draft a receiver in the first round. They might, but I would not assume it at the moment.
Ed Bouchette: But you can readily assume that Sanders will sign elsewhere as a UFA.
Chunkles: Ed, Jarvis Jones is small for a linebacker. Any chance, provided he is athletic enough, to coach him into a safety position?
Ed Bouchette: They did not draft Jarvis Jones on the first round to move him to safety. They want him to get stronger and he said he recognizes that and will work on it this offseason.
guest: Ed, Do you think the Steelers will look to sign a FA d-linemen, maybe T. Coty and free up some draft options?
Ed Bouchette: Once again, they will look at potential free agents from other teams, trolling the bottom for them. There will be no big splashes made.
ssa76: Is it a shock that Marino got the boot?
Ed Bouchette: I'm never sure what goes into those decisions made by TV. I was surprised Shannon Sharpe lasted as long as he did. Marino has been there for a dozen years. Maybe he will have a role with the Miami Dolphins.
Matt: Hi Ed, thanks for the chat! With the arrival of Mike Munchak we've been hearing a lot about the "zone blocking" scheme. I know space is limited here, but could you give us laymen some sense of what this scheme entails and how it differs from what the Steelers have run in the past? Thanks!
Ed Bouchette: It will have to be in layman's terms because that's all I understand of it. It is more of a flow-type of blocking on the outside, with the linemen moving to the right or left side and blocking whoever is in front of them. The back really has no assigned hole as in the customary way but looks for one and then hits it up -- or cuts it back. Cut blocking -- or diving at a player's legs -- is big in zone blocking, and that is how Maurkice Pouncey was hurt in the opener last year when David DeCastro dove toward a Titan and caught Pouncey's knee instead.
BDenny29: Little historical question: Obviously Bus and Franco top the list, but where would you put Barry Foster and his injury-shortened tenure among the all-time Steeler RBs?
Ed Bouchette: Foster holds the team record of 1,690 yards rushing in 1992. After that, he did very little. I never thought his heart was really in it. He had an ankle injury for much of the 1993 season. I would call him a shooting star and not put him among their top backs, although he could have been because he had the talent.
kjacksonpgh: Ed, what free agents of ours to you expect to return? Any chance some of the older vets come back for less money?
Ed Bouchette: I think Jerricho Cotchery will re-sign. We will see if they can sign Worilds. I mentioned I thought it possible that Keisel could come back. If Ziggy Hood does not get much as a UFA, they could bring him back. I do not expect Ryan Clark back, nor Plaxico Burress, nor Emmanuel Sanders. Will Allen is a possibility.
BDenny29: Any real chance of Delmas signing, or just kicking the tires?
Ed Bouchette: I think Delmas would have to accept a smaller salary than what he was used to in Detroit.
kjacksonpgh: Ed, what position to you see the Steelers addressing in the first round of the draft? I expect this to be a defensive heavy draft but they do need WR, RB, and TE. Your Thoughts
Ed Bouchette: They need plenty and as I've said through the years, you cannot just pick a position because you do not know who will be available when it's their turn. They are not going to reach for a wide receiver, for example, if they have a cornerback or safety or other players at other postions rated much higher when it comes to No. 15.
Ed Bouchette: Thank you for another great chat. See you next Tuesday.
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