Poll Question: What is your biggest concern after the first preseason game? Answer #1: The defensive line (7%) Answer #2: The outside backers (60%) Answer #3: The offensive line (13%) Answer #4: Other (20%)
Ray Fittipaldo: Welcome to my weekly Steelers chat. Please post your questions and we'll get it started soon.
Macon Steeler: Hey Ray, So how many more chances will Mike Adams get before the Steelers realize that an undrafted player would be better than him?
Ray Fittipaldo: Adams did not play all that bad against the Giants. I saw one play where he allowed Jason Pierre-Paul to get some easy pressure around the edge, but after that he was fairly solid, albeit against New Yor'ks second- and third-teamers. But for someone who struggled all last season and the first two weeks of camp in pass protection I guess his performance was a good sign. I'd like to see him do it consistently, though, before I feel good about him.
James: Thoughts on Spence?
Ray Fittipaldo: Spence was around the ball a lot. He was credited with two tackles and did not play more than 20 snaps I don't think. They put him out there with the starters so they want to see what he can do against the other team's best. Spence said today he was happy with his performance , but he feels like he can improve. Shazier should be back this week so we might not see Spence again with the first team. I thought he did pretty well all things considered.
STEELMANN58: Ray after game one and the practices have the arrow moved up or down on giving Kesiel or Harrision a call.
Ray Fittipaldo: Still hard to say at this point. Ed is reporting today that the Steelers are close to signing Marcus Gilbert to a long-term deal. I am not sure how much, if at all, that will bite into the $5 million or so they have in cap space. That might play into the Keisel situation. I know it's only one preseason game, but Brian Arnfelt and Josh Mauro were the two lowest-graded defensive players according to Pro Football Focus. They'd be signing Keisel for depth so the coaches have to feel good about guys like Arnfelt and Mauro, etc.
Justin: ILB's are pretty deep on this roster... Any chance Zumwalt doesn't make the cut?
Ray Fittipaldo: It's hard to make a team when you are injured. Zumwalt came back to practice late last week and played against the Giants. He had six tackles and played pretty well. He has to be able to stay healthy and keep playing that way to make the team. I think they like him and they'd like to keep him, but he has to prove it on the field and stay on the practice field.
STEELMANN58: ray players that helped and hurt their chances after game 1
Ray Fittipaldo: I touched on this in my blog this morning. It was not a good night for reserve offensive linemen, especially Chris Hubbard, who did not play particularly well. I'm not sure Hubbard was going to make it any way, but he had a rough game that likely hurt his chances even more. I thought Howard Jones showed up. I know his TD was a gift, but at least he had the wherewithal to pick up that ball and run. How often do we see NFL players not make that play. I mentioned Zumwalt earlier, but I thought he played well too.
Dude_From_Cali: Ray: Sean Spence's knee was damaged due to Heinz field natural turf breaking apart [ freak accident ] is the current turf the same make or changed? Is turf break-up rare?
Ray Fittipaldo: That was the second preseason game of the 2012, the first action that field had seen in months. I very seriously doubt the grass had anything to do with that injury. Players want to play on grass because it extends their careers. It was a freak accident, but blaming Heinz Field for that injury is off base.
Goods20: Thought Zumwalt and Molls played well @ NY... Because of good depth at the position, they could be casualty of numbers.. Your thoughts?
Ray Fittipaldo: Molls is going to have a hard time making it. I think Zumwalt still has a chance. They are stacked with some good depth at ILB. Zumwalt helps himself because he can play OLB in this defense eventually. I think they like that versatility.
Rags from Baltimore: I've heard alot of negatives about the Steelers first pre-season game. But I saw alot of postives with the young guys. Is the cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?
Ray Fittipaldo: How about cup incomplete. I cannot gauge where they are when the starters played 15 snaps or fewer. I have to see the starters for an extended period before I make any conclusions about this team.
Guest: if it came down to the two would you rather have Spence or Williams? I know Spence has the speed but Williams has the experience...also do you think they'll try to find a way to get more ILB on the field at once?
Ray Fittipaldo: No but they might find a way to keep more ILBs on their roster, if they all prove special teams-capable. They have some talent there, some guys who are capable of being starters other places. It's a nice problem to have.
DM: For a "boo boo" Shazier had been out an extended amount of time. Why aren't they releasing the injury and could it be more serious than thought?....is he walking around ok or with a noticeable limp?
Ray Fittipaldo: I saw him at lunch, no limp. He said he is feeling better and would like to practice. Lawrence Timmons said today he expects Shazier to be back by the end of the week. We'll see how the injury heals.
STEELMANN58: Ray will they continue to wait for Podesh or will they bring someone else in?
Ray Fittipaldo: That's a good question. I think they will wait as long as they possibly can before they have to make a move. I think they want to give Podlesh an opportunity. He is going through a tough family situation.
John B.: If McCullers remains consistent do you see he him making the 53 instead of the PS?
Ray Fittipaldo: I can see that. He played 22 snaps while Fangupo played only 6 or 8. They're taking a long look at him to find out. Fangupo made it last year.
STEELMANN58: Ray what UDFA impressed sat Night i take it all with a grain of salt since they played aganist 3rd teamers also
Ray Fittipaldo: Probably Howard Jones. He was around the ball and showed some football instincts.
pitt fan: Sorry for the Pitt question earlier forgot the chat - how did Tuit do?
Ray Fittipaldo: He cost his team five yards that turned a third-and-long into a third-and-manageable. Other than that, I didn't watch him closely enough to know. It's hard to judge line play without the benefit of a coach's tape.
STEELMANN58: Ray the safety spot seems loaded who do you feel will make the Cut Dangerfield or Allen
Ray Fittipaldo: Allen contributed to that 73-yard run by missing a tackle. It's only one play, but it certaintly reminded me of Ryan Clark, another older player, losing a step last year and that defense suffering as a result. I know they like Allen because of his experience, but if he is getting outperformed in camp they might be forced to make a move. I won't get too down on him for one play, but they do have some young safeties they have to find out about sooner or later.
steelergal: Not impressed with back up QBs...I realize only one game, but I feel if Ben goes down, it could be curtains for our team. Thoughts?
Ray Fittipaldo: You're right about that, but isn't that the case for just about every NFL team. I know Seattle and San Francisco are different because of their defenses. The Steelers used to be different for the same reason. But it's not that way anymore. If Ben goes down I am not sure this defense is good to enough to win those 17-13 games they did in previous years when Ben was hurt or suspended.
DWilliams: I have concerns about our play calling in the red zone that continue from last year. Do you see any changes to red zone philosophy that we will see this year?
Ray Fittipaldo: While I agree with you that running a fade to your smallest WR might not have been the best option in that situation I won't put Haley on blast just yet. It's a preseason game. They are working through a bunch of different issues and trying to see what works and what does not.
STEELMANN58: Ray any update on DHB will he be able to get into Sat game? Do you know why Zummwalt did not play ST saturday was it because it was not sure if he was going to play at all?
Ray Fittipaldo: Not sure about that. If he wants to make this team he's going to have to play special teams. He knows that and the coaches know that. His uncertain status for the game did likely have something to do with it, but I am not 100 percent sure about that.
Dude_From_Cali: Why doesn't Goddell outlaw chop block? watching Brian Cushing, Pouncey and other highly paid linemen having their knees destroyed doesn't make sense. Or Goodell wants it as part of entertainment?
Ray Fittipaldo: It's part of the game. There are some situations, when a defender is lined up in a gap, the only way to block him is by chopping him down. Coaches could draw up different ways to block if it was outlawed, but they won't do that until they have to.
TyHutton: With the way that Spence moved and performed, is there any chance he starts over Shazier? Also, Isaiah Green sucks.
Ray Fittipaldo: They want Shazier to start because his speed brings a different element to that defense that was absent last season. Spence playing well does give them options though.
Tom: Why didn't McCullers or Fangupo start at NT instead of Thomas? If Cam is the back-up why bother drafting McCullers?
Ray Fittipaldo: Probably because they wanted to get their three best linemen in to start the game. Thomas has experience at nose from his days in SD and by sliding him over the coaches created a spot for Tuitt, who played well in camp last week.
STEELMANN58: Raydid any of the backup rb impress you? I thinking they will look at other teams cuts.
Ray Fittipaldo: I'm not sure any of those guys will be able to make the 53-man roster. It's quite possible they only keep Bell, Blount and Archer with a guy like Poole on the practice squad.
Guest: Your thoughts on the extra point?
Ray Fittipaldo: No one missed so I did not notice. It's one of those things you don't notice until someone screws it up. Plus, it goes back to the old way for the regular season anyway.
Guest: Am I crazy in thinking if Archer is that fast how did he not score on that play?
Ray Fittipaldo: He said he made a mistake today by trying to cut it back. I'm not sure if he would have scored anyway. Those DBs had angles on him. It wasn't like he lost to those guys in a straight-line race.
Wild Bill: It seems the strength of the offense is it's O-Line (run blocking only) and RB's. Ben performs his best when he game manages and steps up when needed. The defense has always performed best when rested. Why are we trying to be a fast paced passing team?
Ray Fittipaldo: The running game hasn't been good since 2007. They won the Super Bowl in 2008 and got there again in 2010, without much of a running game to speak of. It was satisfactory but not much better. A good running game is nice. It can create the option for play-action. But it's not necessary to have a productive football team.
TyHutton: Have you seen or do you think that the steelers will try to use Dri Archer as a deep threat in the passing game to go along with the obvious screen responsibilities that he will have?
Ray Fittipaldo: They'll try him on some wheel routes if that's what you mean, but I don't think you'll see him lining up outside and running go routes. I think they want to try to get him in space like they did for that long pass against the Giants.
Rags from Baltimore: I think the Steelers need to look at other backup offensive linemen and QB's once cuts are made by other teams. Your thoughts?
Ray Fittipaldo: The reserve linemen did not play all that well, but most of them have good track records. Cody Wallace was solid when called up on to start late last season. Whimper came in and did a good job when there were some injuries. The Steelers know what they have in those guys. I don't think one preseason game will change their minds.
Ray Fittipaldo: OK, thanks for all the questions this week. We'll do it again next week at the same time.
First Published August 11, 2014 12:00 AM