Kovacevic: Steelers have much to tackle
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Brief and to the Point …
So much about the Steelers is in flux right now, but here's what is settled, maybe for years to come: Ben Roethlisberger's offensive line will consist, left to right, of Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Mike Adams.
It's been a long time, a lot of money and a lot of high draft picks in the making, but there it is.
Pouncey and DeCastro were first-rounders, Gilbert and Adams second-rounders, and it was all glued this week by the retention of Foster, who … um, went undrafted in 2009 but now will be the highest-paid of the lot with his three-year, $6 million contract.
He'll be the elder statesman, too, at a ripe old … um, 27.
“Coming from an undrafted guy, to be able to say I'm the oldest person in the room now is truly a blessing,” Foster was telling me Thursday, taking a tease on that topic in stride.
But turning serious, he added, “It took a lot of work.”
No doubt, and the reward was well-earned. Willie Colon couldn't stay on the field, and Foster was the only lineman who could. Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin made the right call.
What of the rest, though?
I like the potential. It's hard not to. Pouncey's a star. DeCastro has that pedigree, too. But those tackles, Gilbert and Adams, have as much to prove as anyone heading into Latrobe. Max Starks won't be the cavalry this time. Either Gilbert and Adams have Ben's back, or you'll get a whole lot of Bruce Gradkowski.
“I'm confident in this line,” Foster said. “We may be young, but every person in that room has played in this league against good competition. The tackles will be fine, too. They were drafted for a reason.”
• Just-for-fun Friday Q: The departures of Colon and Rashard Mendenhall leave the Steelers with nothing to show for Colbert's 2006 and 2008 drafts. How many classes before those are still represented?
Answer at end.
• Pitt's early exit from the Big East Tournament won't help NCAA seeding, obviously, but neither should it hurt much. The Panthers are still one of the nation's top 20 teams, and they lost by three points to another ranked team in a great conference. Realistically, they should get a No. 8 seed or higher.
• Spare me the Jamie Dixon complaints, please. He can't shoot the ball for these young men, and he can't simulate a Big East environment for freshmen. Steven Adams and James Robinson took some tough lessons Thursday.
• NHL realignment was officially finished Thursday, but the four divisions still don't have names. My suggestion: Lemieux, Gretzky, Orr, Howe.
Make them relatable.
• Ever wonder why the Pirates move prospects through their system more slowly than most?
Neal Huntington provided a glimpse Wednesday with this description of Jameson Taillon excelling in a four-inning World Baseball Classic start: “It was unnerving, as a GM, to watch a young pitcher with as high expectations as we have for Taillon pitch a make-or-break game against Team USA. But he handled himself well.”
Yeah, the kid threw a ball.
Taillon is 21. He ended last season by dominating at Double-A Altoona, with a 1.59 ERA, a .083 opponents' batting average, 18 strikeouts and one walk over three starts.
He'll begin this season with Double-A Altoona.
• No one has seen Sidney Crosby up close more than Brooks Orpik, a career-long teammate. This was Orpik's assessment this week: “It's the highest level I've ever seen Sid play.”
• If Team Canada execs are paying attention, Chris Kunitz will be Crosby's linemate in the Sochi Olympics, big names and profiles be damned.
• Temple and Charlotte are leaving the Atlantic 10 for football, and Xavier and Butler are widely reported to be leaving for the new Catholic 7. Saint Louis and Dayton could be next through the latter door.
That would leave Duquesne basketball weaker than ever, which is a near-impossibility.
And don't overthink why the Dukes aren't on board with those other Catholic schools: They don't win, they don't make much money, and they flat-out aren't wanted.
It's as stinging an indictment of Greg Amodio's eight years as athletic director as one could imagine. His contract expires after the next school year.
• If anyone can think of an intelligent reason why Dan Bylsma, an intelligent man, is scratching Simon Despres against teams the coach deems “physical,” I'm all ears.
The Penguins, current and future, have nothing to gain from scratching — never mind embarrassing — their top young defenseman.
• Seeing prospect Phillip Irwin pitch well for the Pirates this spring reminds me of this gem from Clint Hurdle in describing Irwin a couple weeks ago: “He's not a Dow Jones guy.”
Meaning Irwin keeps a straight-line even keel.
• Just-for-fun answer: All of them from 2000-05, assuming Casey Hampton (2001) returns. Plaxico Burress (2000) is the oldest.
Dejan Kovacevic is a sports columnist for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Dejan_Kovacevic
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers to retire Joe Greene’s jersey number
- Pirates’ Alvarez continues to sit, work on throwing woes
- Pittsburgh braces for waves of marches, demonstrations this week
- Emailed notice for federal jury duty a hoax
- Temple dumps SAT, ACT scores from application process
- Police investigate possible shooting in Northview Heights
- Thursday’s scouting report: Pirates at Diamondbacks
- Charges dropped against WVU running back Smallwood
- Steelers offensive linemen looking to build on strong 2013 finish
- Starkey: Would one big move kill Pirates’ future?
- Murrysville Legion eliminated from state tournament