Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 6.23.14

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Poll Question: Which position is the weakest for the Steelers heading into training camp? Answer #1: Outside linebacker (25%) Answer #2: Cornerback (62.5%) Answer #3: Defensive line (0%) Answer #4: Receivers (12.5%)

Ray Fittipaldo: Good afternoon. Welcome to my weekly Steelers chat. Please post your questions and I'll be back soon to start the chat.

Eric: Did Martavis show signs of improvement during OTAs?

Ray Fittipaldo: I think so. It's always difficult for rookies to come into a new system and new environment and feel comfortable right away. He is learning a new playbook, which is much more extensive than his college one. The Steelers would like to use him in the red zone because of his height and perhaps on some deep balls because of his speed. I think he needs to do ma better job of catching contested balls in traffic, a must if he wants to be used as a viable red zone threat. But that being said, he has a unique skill set the coaches would like to take advantage of in the fall if he is deemed ready.

steelmann58: Hi Ray both Jim Wexell and Dale Lolley have reported that #99 has not been cleared out and still has his stuff there>? should we take it as a possible sign

Ray Fittipaldo: I'm not sure how to take that but as far as I know Brett and his camp have said they won't be playing for the vet minimum and I'm not sure the Steelers would pay much more than that to someone who is 36. I've been on the record saying Keisel makes sense for this team because of their lack of depth along the defensive line. But there has also been a conscious effort to get younger. I still think it could happen, but the fact that it did not happen on June 2 makes me a bit skeptical.

David: Why are the steelers not looking at the least at Brandon flowers ? They could use an upgrade at corner

Ray Fittipaldo: Brandon Flowers was released a couple of weeks ago by the Chiefs. He is a very solid CB who apparently did not fit Andy Reid's scheme in KC. There has been some speculation the Steelers are interested in Flowers, but Flowers' camp has been rather quiet on the subject. I called his agent Friday and did not hear back from him. Usually, agents want their clients' names out there attached to teams because it increases the bidding for their services. It could still happen, but according to reports the only team Flowers has visited so far is San Diego.

steelmann58: ray No other Kicker in Camp with Suisham

Ray Fittipaldo: Correct. There were no other place kickers this spring other than Suisham. That might change for training camp but if someone was brought in as a training camp leg.

steelmann58: Ray heading into camp what postions might still be looked at for upgrade come camp or will they wait to see what happens in camp with pads on.

Ray Fittipaldo: CB and OLB are the two big ones for me. That's why the Keisel speculation has been out there since March. There was similar speculation about James Harrison earlier this spring, which has died down. It appears they like some of the versatility they have in the LB corps with the ability of guys like Arthur Moats and perhaps Jordan Zumwalt to play inside and out. OLB is definitely a position to watch this summer.

steelmann58: Ray How deep does the Wr depth go ?

Ray Fittipaldo: I was surprised last week when offensive coordinator Todd Haley said the WR corps is "as deep a group as I've ever been around." Haley has been coaching in the NFL since 1997 and helped lead the 2008 Cardinals to the Super Bowl against the Steelers with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston. Perhaps Haley was being a bit hyperbolic, but he feels strong about this group.

TD: Why can Myron Cope say "Yoi" and guys like Tounch and Wolfley give in game comments, but a national commentator for the US Mens National Team (USMNT) not give his opinion on a heartbreaking draw? Are only Steeler fans allowed to be disappointed?

Ray Fittipaldo: Because Cope, Iklin and Wolfley work for the Steelers on their broadcast. The ESPN was a NATIONAL broadcast. I want objectivity when it comes to a national team, not a bunch of fanboys.

Tship: Hi Ray and thank you for your time. Other than staying healthy the biggest factor as to whether we make the playoff is??? I saw pash rush.

Ray Fittipaldo: I agree with you. The Steelers addressed the safety position, but they're going with their top three CBs from last year and the best of that trio a year ago was William Gay, who didn't start but a handful of games. So if the defensive backfield is going to be relatively the same the pass rush had better be improved. I think the Steelers brought in Joey Porter with the purpose of helping Jarvis Jones' development. Jones is entering his second year and should improve. Jason Worilds came on at the end of last season and the hope is he can pick up where he left off. But there's not much depth after them. On offense, I'll be watching for improvement in the running game and how that meshes with the idea of running the no-huddle often. And, of course, limiting turnovers, which was the reason they got off to that 0-4 start in 2013.

Derek: How much of an impact has Munchak had so far?

Ray Fittipaldo: They haven't put the pads on yet, but the linemen rave about his knowledge of the game and they all say he is a big stickler for fundamentals. I'm anxious to watch the development of that group in Latrobe.

The Emperor: Which player(s) helped themselves the most in minicamp/OTAs? And who hurt themselves?

Ray Fittipaldo: I thought Justin Brown had a strong spring. I think he'll push for the fifth WR spot. On defense, I liked what I saw initially from Ryan Shazier. They put him in there with the first-team right off the bat for a reason. Also, Antwon Blake looked good at CB. He might not be in the mix this season, but he might have a role in the future because of the uncertain status of Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen beyond 2014.

steelmann58: Ray any thought who has a leg up in the Punters duel?

Ray Fittipaldo: That'll be decided in training camp. Podlesh is a veteran, but Brad Wing had a pretty good spring.

The Emperor: Some reports say Worilds was offered a long-term contract but turned it down. Others say a contract offer was never made. Who's right?

Ray Fittipaldo: I'm not going to get into who's right and who's wrong but if I was Jason Worilds I would have been on the phone with my agent when I found out about the report from Ed. Just speculating here but perhaps the agent did not feel the offer was strong enough to even mention it to Worilds.

Troy B: Now that all of the pre training camp workouts are finished, can you give us any kind of update on whether Jarvis looks to be improved? How much will Porter play a role in his development?

Ray Fittipaldo: As I mentioned earlier, Porter will be a big help to Jones. Porter played recently and understands this defense. He might be able to light a fire under him as well if that's what's needed. We'll find out how much he has improved in the fall, but he only has one way to go. He had 1 sack as a rookie.

The Emperor: Why didn't Chuck Noll send more assistants on to head coaching jobs in the NFL?

Ray Fittipaldo: Tony Dungy did and won a Super Bowl.

The Emperor: Does Sean Spence make the final roster?

Ray Fittipaldo: Good question. Inside linebacker is a very deep position group for the Steelers and I'm having a hard time ignoring the fact that they drafted two ILBs in April. I think it will make for a great story if he does make the team. I just don't think the coaches are counting on him being able to withstand the rigors.

steelmann58: Ray OTA and Mini camp over what are your predictions for Camp Phenom and guys to suprise

Ray Fittipaldo: Justin Brown has been mentioned a lot this spring and I think he's poised to have a strong camp.

Wild Bill: Is clock management by the refs in football really exact as you say it is? Doesn't evey game have a clock that continues to run after the whistle? How abitrary is it for officials to signal when to start the clock after a play? Is is right to hurry or add seconds at the end of game, but take their time or not add seconds in the first quarter?

Ray Fittipaldo: It was an observation by me, someone who does not watch a lot of soccer games. By the way, no one has been able to explain to me why they just don't stop the clock.

The Emperor: Is Landry Jones showing any signs of improvement, or is he looking like a wasted draft pick?

Ray Fittipaldo: He did not have a strong rookie year. I'd venture to say he's slightly improved. I still don't think they cut him this year because they'd be admitting a mistake on a fourth-round pick one year after taking him.

Ray Fittipaldo: Here is my morning blog if you're wondering what Wild Bill and I are discussing. http://sportsblogs.post-gaz...

The Emperor: Why doesn't Tomlin let assistant coaches speak with the media?

Ray Fittipaldo: He does. They were available once during the spring, last week in fact. They are pretty much available upon request in training camp. During the season the coordinators speak once a week and assistants are available upon request as well. The access the Steelers provide for their assistants is good in my opinion.

Guest: I understand the reluctance to draft 2 gap nt high if he only plays 35% of the downs. But i think that is somewhat shortsighted in that that player may play only 35% of the downs but if that player plays first down and gets the defense to 2 and 8 and 3rd and long, as opposed to 2nd 4 or 3rd and 2, even if he is not on the field for second and third downs, that player is worth it and dictating 2nd and 3rd down, even though he is not on the field. Especially if the defense is built around getting into second and third and long. I would say that a 2gap nose tackle would be worth more to the whole defense and and wins and losses at least as much as a 3rd round scat back who is only going to be a part time player too.

Ray Fittipaldo: You make some good points but I think Tomlin and other coaches are realizing teams are throwing much more often on first down, which works against your theory. Plus, there are teams like New England and New Orleans that throw the ball first and run later, in which case opposing nose guards are rendered pretty much useless.

Wild Bill: Are we going to see why the Steelers don't like to use rookies this year? Teams like the Browns always count of rookies especially QB's and they stink. Maybe Landry Jones just needs time, right?

Ray Fittipaldo: Perhaps you are right. One of the biggest complaints by NFL coaches these days is how college QBs are not prepared for the NFL game in college. In college offenses, QBs are not reading the entire field by land large. They are making quick reads and getting rid of the ball. In the NFL, there are progressions and yes it does take some time for many QBs to adjust. That doesn't explain Jones' problems with accuracy, but it certainly could be a factor in why he struggled last year.

Ray Fittipaldo: Thank you for the questions this week. I'll do another chat next Monday.


First Published June 23, 2014 12:00 AM

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