I'm here. I'm a little late because I was pumping one of my informants for information. Let's get started ...
singing_buddy_dial: Were you surprised by the Rossum trade? Does he have anything to offer defensively, or is he strictly a special teams standout?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I was surprised. I thought they had good enough return men and they don't need six cornerbacks. I would have had Santonio Holmes return punts, and he did a better job of it last year than Rossum.
MarylandFan: Why did the Steelers cut Chidi Iwuoma?
Ed Bouchette: They cut him last year, too, if you'll recall, then picked him up late. Chidi was a good special teams player in his day. They could not justify keeping him because he's not as good as he once was.
Chuki_Okobi_is_a_beast: Ricardo Colcough is still on the team? Jovon Johnson outplayed him in preseason. Walter Young outplayed Willie Reid. We traded for Rossum to return, so what good are Reid and Colcough?
Ed Bouchette: Colclough was judged to still be one of the best 5 cornerbacks on the team. Young did not outplay Reid. Reid was judged to be one of the best 5 receivers on the team. Perhaps they have not lived up to expectations, but they are good enough to take up roster spots.
MPM: Were you surprised that Marvin Philip was cut and Darnell Stapleton was kept?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, I was. But they saw a lot in Stepleton, an undrafted rookie from Rutgers.
singing_buddy_dial: Have any of the Steelers cuts (esp. Okobi, Haynes and Chidi) sign with other teams yet? Surprised both were cut, or is this what happens with a new coach)?
Ed Bouchette: John Kuhn was signed by Green Bay and rookie tight end Cody Boyd was signed by the Redskins. The vested veterans likely won't be signed until after the first game. If signed before the first game, the teams are required to pay them a full year's salary.
datruth4life: Ed, what happened to Jason Capizzi? Has he been picked up by anyone and do you think he could have been the future LT of the Steelers down the road?
Ed Bouchette: There was a report that Capizzi was picked up by Cleveland on practice squad, but that turned out not to be true. Capizzi would have been on the Steelers practice squad had they not signed Rossum. That started a domino effect that knocked Marvin Philip off the 53-man roster onto the practice squad, which knocked Capizzi off the practice squad.
datruth4life: Ed, what do you think about this year's rookie class including the two undrafted free agents?
Ed Bouchette: So-so.
Rob_T.: Hey Ed. What do you think is the biggest weakness heading into the first regular season game. Is it the O-Line, special teams, or our corners?
Ed Bouchette: Those would be my top 3 picks, starting with the offensive line. The line could jell and play well together, but if I were the coach of the team that would be my concern. Same with the cornerbacks -- until they prove they can cover, it's an unknown. Special teams also have to prove themselves.
BGSUsteelers: Ed, after App. State beat Michigan, is that proof enough that it IS possible for the Browns to beat the Steelers? I sure hope not ...
Ed Bouchette: I don't think you need the college upset to make a case that the Browns can upset the Steelers, especially in Cleveland. They almost lost to them last year in Cleveland before pulling out 24-20 victory.
datruth4life: Ed, are you as ready for some real football as the rest of us?
Ed Bouchette: I'm sure we all are.
NCSteelerfan: Where do you think Okobi will end up? Arizona?
Ed Bouchette: I don't know. I believe he'll play somewhere but it's my understanding Arizona is not interested.
SRK: Any luck finding out the starting O line?
Ed Bouchette: Yes, the same one we reported more than a week ago -- Smith, Faneca, Mahan, Simmons, Colon.
Steelhead: When are they going to teach Willie Parker to switch the ball to his left arm when running left? He loses all his leverage and stiffarm ability.
Ed Bouchette: Parker gained third-most yards in Steelers history last season. Perhaps if he would have carried the ball in his right hand, 3,000 yards would not be out of the question.
NCSteelerfan: With the way St. Pierre played in Carolina are you surprised they kept him on the 53 man roster?
Ed Bouchette: No, Tomlin was known to favor three quarterbacks. I thought they might put him on practice squad after they determined he was eligible.
Steel_Wondering: Who do you think was the "last" player cut - ie. Who did Rossum take a roster spot from?
Ed Bouchette: My understanding is they cut Marvin Philip to make room for Rossum.
GjSteel: Hi Ed -- I see 2 main issues that killed the Steelers last year: offensive line play and a consistent pass rush. They may have fixed the pass rush, but line play -- I doubt it. Mahan is not better than Hartings, Colon is unproven and we are hoping that Marvel doesn't get hurt and Faneca doesn't sulk about his contract ... What is your assessment?
Ed Bouchette: Smith and Faneca have proven themselves in the past. Mahan likely cannot equal Hartings in his prime, but Hartings was not in his prime last year. Simmons is the same player and may be a little bitter. Colon beat out Starks so you have to assume they are better at right tackle. Still, the line remains a big question until, as I wrote earlier, they do it.
MenOSteel: If Arizona is uninterested, who on the old staff was the Okobi advocate?
Ed Bouchette: Obviously, no one.
NCSteelerfan: Was Cowher holding LeBeau back? If so, has Tomlin given him creative freedom?
Ed Bouchette: I hardly think LeBeau has been held back. That defense has been pretty good down through the years under him.
datruth4life: Ed, how does this squad stack up against the big bad boys from B-more? Are we talking about another 51-7 shelacking in two games this year?
Ed Bouchette: It's hard to tell. Baltimore lost Adalius Thomas and Jamaal Lewis and gained McGahee from Buffalo. I think it depends on the health of McNair. Baltimore is the clear favorite in the division and I think the Steelers are their top competition. I think Cincinnati is way overrated.
BGSUsteelers: Is Carey Davis locked in as the shotgun back or 3rd down back? Or is it Davenport's job?
Ed Bouchette: It may well go to Willie Parker, but those other two are the candidates if it's not Parker. I would say Najeh gets first crack before Davis.
fakin__IT_in_OH: Do you think Ben is going to have the year that some fantasy prognosticators are saying he will have? I heard a show last week that said he'll be a top 7 QB this year in stats.
Ed Bouchette: I don't think the Steelers' QB will ever be among the top fantasy guy simply because they're not going to throw that much.
Steel_Wondering: Ed: I really enjoyed the video segments from camp this year. Will there be more of those video clips appearing on the website from time to time during the regular season?
Ed Bouchette: Yes. They are scheduled Monday through Thursday. I just finished one and it should be up later this afternoon.
NCSteelerfan: Who are your picks to play in the Super Bowl and who do you think will win it?
Ed Bouchette: New England and, ah, Seattle. New England.
BGSUsteelers: Dare make a prediction this Sunday Ed?
Ed Bouchette: Kickoff at 1.
NCSteelerfan: Russell seems to run with more power than Davenport, who will they use for short yardage? One of those guys or Willie?
Ed Bouchette: I think Willie gets first crack at the job. Perhaps Davis more than Russell.
datruth4life: Ed, do you still think the Steelers should have went with Barr and used the other two draft picks for other places? It only would have meant that the Steelers would have cut another two picks on the second day of the draft. Colbert isn't exactly hitting them out of the park when it comes to drafting on the 2nd day. Your thoughts?
Ed Bouchette: You make a good point. Why draft two more players if you're only going to cut them. Barr should have been their punter last year. Then, they would have known about him.
wb: Do you think Anthony Smith will be starting by the end of the year?
Ed Bouchette: That depends on Anthony Smith.
Bouchette_the_B_student: Is there worry among Steelers brass the Leftwich will surface in Baltimore? Historically he plays about as well as McNair does against the Steelers.
Ed Bouchette: The only way Leftwich would play if he were on the Ravens is if McNair were injured. I think the Steelers would rather take their chances against Leftwich.
BGSUsteelers: You know Ed, If you ever get tired of covering the Steelers you just may be able to stand on a stage and make a few people chuckle ...
Ed Bouchette: I leave that up to Gene Collier.
docsjc: Ed: Your thoughts on the Steelers getting a deal done with Simmons and not with Faneca.
Ed Bouchette: I think Kendall Simmons was in the right place at the right time. I've said before I thought they should do what they could to sign Faneca. Apparently, they feel they have and he wants too much.
DumpTruck: I always liked Verron Haynes, and was sad to see him get cut. Do you think a team will pick him up, or is his career pretty much over?
Ed Bouchette: Verron was a good player, a good guy, worked hard, was a good teammate and was versatile and productive. The problem for Verron is, you had to add the caveat -- "when healthy." He blew out his knee in November and it was a miracle he made it back to practice in May. He just could not make it all the way back in time. Someone will work him out later in the year and if he can pass a physical, he could still catch on somewhere.
ch: Do you think Timmons will end up playing ILB instead of OLB?
Ed Bouchette: I think that's a possibility.
singing_buddy_dial: Will Faneca most likely be in an ARZ uniform next year or will the Steelers use the franchise tag on Alan for one year in 2008?
Ed Bouchette: I don't think they'll use the tag. I think he will end up in Arizona -- unless another team comes along with more money and is a good fit for him.
NCSteelerfan: Are the Steelers trying to be too fancy by not only moving Troy around but now also Kiesel?
Ed Bouchette: I'm not sure. It sounds like a good idea in theory, but I have to see it first and we haven't see much of it in the preseason.
NCSteelerfan: The Steelers have a good record of knowing when to let a player go, with the exception of Hardy Nickerson and Leon Searcy most of the players they did not sign did not have the same success elsewhere. Do you think they are making a mistake letting Faneca go or is another case of the right time to let him go?
Ed Bouchette: I will take issue with you on Nickerson because letting Nickerson go opened the door for Levon Kirkland, a much better inside linebacker. They did not let Searcy go as much as they could not match what Jacksonville paid him. We'll see on Faneca.
DC_Diva: Any predictions on how Steelers West....uh, I mean, Arizona...will do in the next two seasons?
Ed Bouchette: I think it's a good, young upcoming team that finally has some good coaching. As long as the front office does not mettle, they'll be a big winner out there. The new stadium also will help them because they don't have to play outside in that heat all the time.
fakin__IT_in_OH: So players keep telling us that "we ain't seen nothin' yet" when looking at preseason as a measure of what the team will do this year. Is it hype or are we really going to see a high pressure D, and an expanded O?
Ed Bouchette: Most teams hide what they want to do in the preseason. I think you will see a different offense -- multiple receivers on first and second downs. I don' t know that the pressure will be cranked up any more on defense, though.
Ed Bouchette: That's it. Thanks. I'll be back again next Tuesday. Don't forget to tip your servers on the way out of the chat room. -- ed