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Harris: Steelers made right move with Pouncey

| Friday, April 23, 2010

Trading Ben Roethlisberger on Thursday night wasn't going to happen because the Steelers don't act out of spite.

Dealing Roethlisberger isn't going to make him a better person, and it won't make the Steelers a better team.

The Steelers and Roethlisberger deserve each other.

Roethlisberger owes it to the team that signs his checks to make things right off the field, and resume control of the offense when his suspension is lifted. That includes reporting to training camp in the best shape of his life.

The Steelers did their part when they gave Roethlisberger another chance.

As for last night, I must admit to taking pause when the Oakland Raiders selected Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain with the No. 8 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

The Raiders were reportedly one of several teams exploring the possibility of acquiring Roethlisberger with their first-round pick. And inside linebacker was one of several positions of need for the Steelers entering the draft.

Would the Steelers consider shipping Roethlisberger to Oakland for the rights to McClain and other considerations?


I'll say this for those alleged trade rumors. The mere thought of being shipped to the Bermuda Triangle known as the Raiders is the equivalent of being scared straight.

Ten picks after the Raiders took McClain, the Steelers used their pick to select Florida's Maurkice Pouncey, rated the top center in the draft.

The Steelers hadn't drafted a center in the first round in decades, so Pouncey, who had one year of college eligibility remaining, must be something special.

Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga, projected as a top-10 pick in some mock drafts, was still available at No. 18. The Steelers passed on Bulaga and pounced on Pouncey, whom Coach Mike Tomlin said can play multiple positions and will begin his pro career at right guard, where he started 11 games as a freshman.

Last night's first round was a study in calm for the Steelers, who sat back, waited, and got their man, Pouncey.

Still, it was a first round more notable for what the Steelers could have done, but didn't.

They didn't trade their starting quarterback, silencing the whispers and calming the majority of their fans.

Sometimes, the best trades are the ones you don't make.

What's become increasingly apparent is the Steelers never entertained serious thoughts about trading Roethlisberger.

I know the Steelers don't publicly discuss trades, or non-trades, involving their players, but now might be a good time to start.

The first round was about the Steelers taking steps to improve an offensive line that didn't feature a first-round pick until Pouncey's selection.

That means the Steelers have finally joined AFC North rivals Cincinnati, Baltimore and Cleveland, who have all spent first-round picks on offensive linemen in recent years.

It also could mean a return to more of the power running game that Steelers president Art Rooney II referred to at the end of last season.

Makes sense.

In Roethlisberger's absence, expect the Steelers to scale back their passing game and lean more heavily on the run — regardless of who plays quarterback.

You can't run if you can't blow people off the line of scrimmage. With Pouncey now in the fold, the Steelers odds of doing just that have increased substantially.

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