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Tim Benz

Tim Benz: What were Tomlin, Bell, Harrison and the Patriots thinking?

| Thursday, April 5, 2018, 11:21 p.m.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speaks to the media during his last news conference of the season Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speaks to the media during his last news conference of the season Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Patriots linebacker James Harrison won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Patriots linebacker James Harrison won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It's not often the NFL gets buried around these parts. But given the Penguins' playoff push, the start of Pirates season at PNC Park and the fallout from the Jeff Capel hire at Pitt, that was the case this week.

Some curious quotes, signings, trades, visits and decisions were made in the league over the past few days.

So let's close out the work week with some "Friday Football Footnotes" and approach them with one question in mind:

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert: What were they thinking when they went to LSU's pro day?

Well, considering running backs coach James Saxon was with them, they were probably thinking about taking Derrius Guice in the draft.

The problem is Guice probably won't be there at pick No. 28. After Saquon Barkley, many people — myself included — think he is the best running back in the draft.

He's 5-foot-10, 224 pounds. In three seasons with the Tigers, Guice had more than 3,300 yards from scrimmage and scored 32 touchdowns.

If some other teams project Georgia products Sony Michel or Nick Chubb as better runners in the pros, Guice might be too tough for the Steelers to pass up if he is there when they select.

And if he is somehow on the board for them in the second round, they'd be crazy to let him slide a second time.

As NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock reported, Guice's backup Darrell Williams could be worth a look late in Day 2 or early on Day 3. He had 19 touchdowns in four years behind Guice and Leonard Fournette.

LSU also boasts a personal favorite in DJ Chark at wide receiver. The Steelers always draft a wideout and could use some depth there. They also almost always take a corner as well. So remember the name Donte Jackson.

Arden Key is an athletically gifted pass rusher who Tomlin and Colbert might like in the second or third round. But his undisclosed leave of absence from the team has some front offices concerned.

James Harrison: What was he thinking when he let it be known he wants to keep playing, just not in a limited role like he had in Pittsburgh?

James, you are going to be 40. You are still unsigned. You can't cover anyone. You're only value is to get to the passer and set the edge.

You don't get to make the terms.

Positions matter less and less for NFL defenses. That means versatility. Harrison doesn't have that.

To be clear, I think there is still a role for purely designated pass rushers. If a front office out there agrees with me, maybe Harrison can find work.

But if Harrison really wants to be the fifth NFL defensive player to suit up beyond age 40, he better not be too demanding in his prices, snap count or role.

The Patriots: What were they thinking when they traded Brandin Cooks to the Rams for a first-round pick?

As Matt Williamson of WilliamsonFootball.com and ESPN Pittsburgh told us , they were thinking big picture about their passing game.

Julian Edelman is coming back. Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Mitchell are still there. They also acquired Cordarrelle Patterson and, reportedly, Jordan Matthews.

So they still have numbers at the receiver position. Also, Cooks' vertical game is his strongest attribute. As Williamson said, with Nate Solder gone at left tackle, New England might not want to go deep as often and expose Tom Brady in the pocket.

The Rams: What were they thinking when they traded a first-rounder to New England for Cooks?

They were thinking about the Super Bowl. Apparently, they have been the entire offseason.

Los Angeles also acquired Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh. Plus, they franchised Lamarcus Joyner.

Now they better win it.

Because they have holes to fill at linebacker, no first-round pick looming, and Joyner, Cooks and Aaron Donald have to be accounted for contractually next season.

Fox: What was Fox thinking going with Troy Aikman and Joe Buck as the play-by-play team for Thursday Night football?

Well, it's not official. But it appears that'll be the case.

Here's what they were actually thinking:

• Well, we can't get Peyton Manning to do it, so what's the difference.

• It worked out fine at CBS when Jim Nantz and Tony Romo did the games.

• Are we sure we can't get Peyton?

Le'Veon Bell: What was he thinking, going a full week without posting or saying something stupid?

I don't know. Maybe he lost his phone.

That's the only explanation I can come up with.

Tim Benz hosts the Steelers pregame show on WDVE and ESPN Pittsburgh. He is a regular host/contributor on KDKA-TV and 105.9 FM.

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