Marq: Motorcycle injury, appendectomy, and now rare rib injury. Hope that Ben gets well soon, but man, when this guy gets hurt, he gets HURT.
Gerry Dulac: You forgot the bone fracture in his foot that has been there since who-knows-when, maybe even his childhood.
By the way, if someone reports that Ben has a fracture in his foot, they will be correct. Just like last year. It will be correct in 2015 too.
dsf: Is James Harrison doing more harm than good? And is Casey Hampton just not able to get off blocks like he used to? I have never seen such huge holes in out D-line
Gerry Dulac: I don't know about that. Harrison is not the player he was, not even close, because he can't bend his knee. And he knows the knee will really not get any better till he can rest it and properly rehab it after the season.
The problem with that is, Harrison is a player who relies so much on leverage and using his legs to generate his tremendous push and explosion. So, when he can't use his legs as he would like, he cannot play the way he would like .... or the way we have been accustomed to seeing.
I'm afraid the player you are seeing now is the player you might still be seeing in December, In other words, this is as good as it's going to get.
That being said, the coaches have told me they're not calling the defenses any differently to compensate for Harrison's injury. And that he is actually still doing a good job against the run and even in coverage.
Still, it is apparent he is not the impact player he was. Not right now.
Marq: dsf makes some good points re: d-line ... would you expect Ray Rice to slash his way through like Charles did on Monday?
Gerry Dulac: Both the Ravens and Chiefs use the zone-blocking schemes that seem to give the Steelers defense problems. And the reason is that those teams use the Steelers aggressiveness and ability to flow to the ball against them. They stretch the run by flowing to the boundary, hoping to create a gap in the Steelers defense when one of the players over-runs his responsibility. If they all start flowing too fast to the sideline, the running back cuts the play back to the weakside, a play that is very effective if that team has a very good left tackle who can seal the edge.
Ray Rice does it as well any anybody and gouged the Steelers last year on those types of plays..
Guest: Most pleasant surprise thus far? Biggest disappointment (injuries aside)?
Gerry Dulac: Biggest surprise to me -- 1) Jonathan Dwyer 2) Keenan Lewis 3) Will Allen.
Biggest disappointment (injuries aside) -- 1) Cam Heyward 2) Ike Taylor
dsf: Thanks for your comment, but could Worilds be somewhat better, or less of a liability and gain from his exp?
Gerry Dulac: I personally think he would be better, at least in terms of generating pressure. Maybe not so much against the run.
Marq: Your thoughts on the Batch vs. Leftwich debate. Do you think Charlie would be the better backup for the Haley O?
Gerry Dulac: I blogged earlier today on PG Plus that I think Batch is better fit for Todd Haley's offense because he releases the ball quicker, can throw that little slip-screen pass better and has more of a deft touch than Leftwich. I also think Leftwich was a better fit for Bruce Arians offense because the Steelers liked to throw deep 4 or 5 times a game with Arians. That was better suited to Leftwich's five- and seven-step drops, his long throwing motion and his strong arm.
Guest: How many and which of these players will not be on next year's team - Mendenhall, Wallace, Hampton, Polamalu, Starks, Foote, Harrison, Foster, & Lewis?
Gerry Dulac: Back: Mendenhall, Polamalu, Lewis. Starks maybe.
Gone: The rest.
Guest: Is this team good enough to win the Super Bowl? Offense or Defense bigger concern in winning the Bowl?
Gerry Dulac: I think the defense is a bigger concern, mainly because James Harrison is not, and probably will not be, the dominating player he has been because of his knee. And who knows how Troy Polamalu's calf will hold up when, or if, he comes back. And I think Larry Foote will wear down as the season goes on. He doesn't get rotated and plays every snap. That will take its toll.
JamesinNYC: Has Adams fixed his spot in the O-Line
Gerry Dulac: I think he has. They're not going to replace him now, not while the team is winning. And not if they can run the ball as they did against Cincy, Washington and the Giants. That doesn't mean they don't like Gilbert. It just means they are developing Adams quicker than they thought they might., If you're betting, they will be your starting tackle tandem in 2013.
Gerry Dulac: OK, good recovery after the late start. Thanks for all the good questions. See you next week.
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