On the Steelers: Beachum will be part of rebuilt offensive line
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The Steelers offensive line will change dramatically for 2013.
Three regular starters likely won't return and all three players who took turns starting at right tackle should start at separate positions.
There is a caveat to all of this, of course: Provided they all stay healthy.
Look for Max Starks and Ramon Foster to leave in free agency and Willie Colon to be released. Colon's knee injury that placed him on injured reserve for the third season in a row was the last straw. The Steelers want to move on, and they believe they have the right man to replace him.
They drafted Kelvin Beachum -- their fourth and final pick in the seventh round last year -- to play guard, even though he started at tackle for all 52 games of his four years at SMU. When Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams were shelved by injuries after starting at right tackle, the Steelers turned to Beachum. He started the final five games and did a nice job. It helped to convince them he can start at guard.
They will turn right tackle over to Adams. Gilbert will start at left tackle. There was a time many assumed Adams would play left tackle, but he is a more natural right tackle, a better run blocker, and Gilbert's more natural position is left tackle.
David DeCastro will take over at right guard as he did at the end of the season when he became healthy. And, of course, there is three-time Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey.
Their backups are to be determined because at the moment only John Malecki is under contract from their season-ending roster.
That, ladies and gents, is your 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line. Check back for medical updates.
The medical charts
As to those medical problems, Art Rooney II is correct in his plans to investigate them further. It's not just been this season, but last season as well, that the team suffered an inordinate number of injuries.
The first place to look would be at the various leg injuries. Do they have more than other teams? If so, how do they alter their approach in training or practices to prevent them?
There is also the matter of the new CBA that limits the time in which players can be supervised in their training during the offseason by coaches or trainers, even when they're working out at the team facility.
"I think that we have to look at as a league where we are with some of the rules in terms of conditioning and how often the players can be in the building and what they can do here," Rooney said. "I'd like to see us have some of that loosened up a little bit. That obviously is not something that is completely in our control.
"In terms of things that are within our control, we have to look at those things and make sure we are doing the best we can. I think the other thing we have to do is to make our players aware that under the rules we are all operating under now, it's more on them to make sure they are performing and doing their offseason conditioning. We only have access to them for nine weeks, which is not that many weeks in the overall scheme of things. I think it is incumbent on the individual players to be more aware of that.
"Most of our players now go to one of these off-site training programs and participate in those things, at least for some part of the offseason. There is a lot that goes into it."
Ike Taylor and, previously, James Farrior were examples of that. Taylor was an iron man, playing 135 consecutive games at cornerback before a hairline fracture of his right ankle knocked him out of the final four games this season. Farrior missed a total of six games in his decade with the Steelers, no more than two in one season. Both trained extremely hard with trainers in the offseason.
Remember Jed Hughes?
A former Steelers linebackers coach is leading the search team to hire a new general manager for the New York Jets and is the one who chose Omar Khan to be interviewed.
Jed Hughes, who coached the linebackers under Chuck Noll from 1984-88, heads the sports division of the executive search firm Korn/Ferry of Los Angeles. He has been in that business for 20 years and lives in Ligonier, where he had made his home for nearly two decades.
Hughes tapped Khan once before when he was conducting the search for Seattle's general manager. Khan interviewed for that job three years ago.
Hughes fell victim to a sweeping change in Noll's coaching staff after a 5-11 season in 1988. He was one of several coaches fired by Noll, who was under pressure from Dan Rooney to make those changes. Another change Noll made in that process was to tell Tony Dungy he would be demoted from defensive coordinator to secondary coach. Dungy resigned instead.
The Haley interview
Why all the mystery and denials that Todd Haley was interviewing in Arizona for the Cardinals head-coaching job Wednesday?
That was a strange series of events. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic writes that a source told him he would be interviewed. I confirmed it with two sources at the Steelers, and then president Art Rooney II confirmed it publicly on two different occasions to four reporters.
So why did Haley's agent continue to deny in strong terms to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network and NFL.com that he was interviewing with Arizona?
Strange indeed. Not long after the Steelers gave Arizona permission to interview Haley, word filtered out that Haley might not interview with the Cardinals unless he was sure they were serious in hiring him. Sources said Haley was happy with his job and did not want the Steelers to think he was job-hunting.
Maybe that is why he and/or his agent wanted to try to keep the interview with the Cardinals quiet. It occurred, we are told, at an undisclosed location. But the Steelers are the ones who acknowledged the interview, so they obviously knew. What would be the purpose of trying to keep others in the dark?
Either way, the fiasco should in no way impugn Haley's qualifications for the job, and, so far, he wasn't the one who lied about it. His agent more likely badly fumbled orders from Haley to keep it quiet. He would have been better off saying nothing at all.
First Published January 13, 2013 12:00 am