On the Steelers: Levi Brown hopes he can help his new team
October 8, 2013 4:00 AM
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Offensive tackle Levi Brown was the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft and signed a big contract in 2012. Then he was dumped by the Arizona Cardinals.
By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Surely someone with the Arizona Cardinals had to have liked Levi Brown, even though they essentially dumped him like a used beer can last week, then crushed him with their comments.
After all, the Cardinals signed the fifth overall NFL draft choice in 2007 to a new five-year contract in 2012 worth $30 million, including a reported $12 million guaranteed.
Yet, they were willing to pick up $3 million of the $3.7 million owed him this season to peddle him to the Steelers for what virtually amounts to nothing -- "conditions" that do not even include a 2014 draft choice, a source said.
The offensive tackle from Penn State went through his first practice with the Steelers on Monday and tried to find reasons he went from highly paid starting left tackle in Arizona to his new, nameless locker with the Steelers.
"When you have inconsistency, things like that happen," said Brown. "It's just one of those things where they felt they needed to go in a different direction. I'm fine with it. I'll come out here and do what I have to do, compete and go out there and try to play."
Brown said he alternated at left tackle in practice Monday (with Kelvin Beachum) after spending extra time with his new offensive line coaches going over the playbook Thursday and Friday while his new teammates were off.
The Steelers had more than their own inconsistency at left tackle, which prompted them to make the move for Brown. Mike Adams played "under the line," is how Mike Tomlin put it, through the first four games at left tackle.
Brown's former bosses in Arizona also had some less than flattering things to say about him after the trade.
"I don't think it comes as any surprise that Levi Brown was not living up to our expectations on the field," new Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. "At the end of the day, we just felt like it was in the organization's best decision and best interests to move on from Levi."
Keim was promoted from personnel director to general manager this year. Rod Graves, who was fired, was the general manager when the Cardinals signed Brown to the big deal in 2012, and Ken Whisenhunt, not Bruce Arians, was their coach.
Brown indicated that the changes in stewardship might have led to his exit.
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley also was a coordinator in Arizona during the time in which Brown was there. It does not sound as if the two are chummy.
"Well, you know, Todd is an interesting fella. Let's just leave it at that," Brown said. "Me and Todd -- I mean, everybody has their arguments. I'm not sure he's like necessarily in my corner, but, at this point, I'm here, so, obviously, he liked that fight in me, so I appreciate it."
Even if he does not start, Brown believes he can help the Steelers.
"I'm a vet, and they have a lot of young guys at the tackle position. I'm going to go out there and teach them what I've learned over the years -- good things, bad things, what to expect. Things don't always go your way. You just fight through it. You're good enough to play if you're here, so just fight through those things, learn the technique and just roll with it."
Starter at LG unclear, too
In the meantime, the entire left side of the offensive line could be different when the Steelers take the field Sunday against the New York Jets.
Starting left guard Ramon Foster has a strained pectoral muscle.
He performed some individual work in practice Monday and said they will determine his status as the week moves along.
"It's fine, we'll see on Wednesday when we put on pads. You can't wear anything special, you can't numb it. It's one of those things you just have to deal with [the pain.]."
The Steelers have a few options there, but it would depend first on what they do at left tackle.
If Beachum starts at tackle, Guy Whimper likely will start at left guard.
If Levi Brown starts at left tackle, Beachum would start at guard.
• Halfback Le'Veon Bell said his right foot came through his first game OK, and he felt no discomfort and declared himself ready to go again this week. Bell missed the first three games of the season with a sprained foot.
• The Steelers still rank 31st in the NFL in rushing offense with an average of just 58.0 yards per game. They're giving up more than twice that up on the ground on defense, 122.8, where they rank 25th. They rank 23rd in points allowed per game, 27.5.
• In their imperfect world, at least one Steelers player is perfect. Kicker Shaun Suisham has made all six of his field-goal attempts after going 28 of 31 last season.