Some stuff on a slow news week:
--- Mike Tomlin continues to have his exit interviews with players. He’s dragging this thing out, probably because he’s not used to having so much time on his hands.
--- Of all the Steelers free agents, Doug Legursky may not seem to be the most coveted, but he will be by his own team. Legursky is the only legitimate backup to Maurkice Pouncey, and he also can fill in at guard. That’s a two-for they’re not likely to find elsewhere. With Ramon Foster also an unrestricted free agent, signing Legursky is important for them.
--- Book it: New England at Denver for the AFC title game, and I realize that’s not going too far out on a limb. I’ll take Denver in that one. John Fox looks like a pretty good coach again, huh?
--- No news on any coaching searches by Tomlin yet. He needs and offensive line coach and a special teams coach.
--- I’m surprised that Ken Whisenhunt has not received more interest from teams looking for a head coach. He’s shown what he can do with a quarterback and, like most coaches, what can happen when he doesn’t have one. He’d look good in San Diego.
--- The story of Tony Sparano shows how fickle that coaching business can be. He was fired as head coach in Miami after the 2011 season and now fired as New York Jets offensive coordinator after one season.
--- YOU: I do think corner, OLB, ILB, RB, NT, and a young QB to backup Ben and be possibly be his heir apparent years down the road. TE too if Heath is too mangled up.
ME: I think it is way too early to groom a young quarterback to replace Roethlisberger. However, I do think they will add a young quarterback to replace one of the two vets behind him.
--- Chat today at 1:30 p.m.
--- Onto your questions:
--- YOU: Ed, can you explain how these "futures contracts" work? I don't remember ever hearing of such a thing before the last couple years. How did this whole concept originate? Did any of these players the Steelers signed last year ever make - or remain on - the roster, or even the practice squad?
ME: When the regular season ends, teams are permitted to sign players for their 2013 roster. Eligible players are those who were on practice squads or not otherwise under contract to other teams. They do not include impending free agents because their contracts do not expire until the new league year begins, which is March 12 this year. Teams can have 90-player rosters in the offseason and until the first required cutdown dates in the preseason.
Last wee, the Steelers signed six players, five were on their practice squad and another, Pittsburgh native Ross Ventrone, had been with the Patriots in 2010 and 2011 and on no roster last season. These signings have been around for quite awhile.
--- YOU: It seems like the past 2 years, the Steelers have had a higher degree of injury than the average team. Granted some of their key players are getting older (Hampton, Polamalu, Harrison, etc.) but younger guys have been suffering the injury bug also (Gilbert, Woodley, Pouncey, etc.). It would be interesting to compare the data - how many "man-games" did the Steelers lose the past 2 years vs. other teams. Also do you know how their off-season and during the season training regimen compares to that of other teams?
ME: It sounds like a good project for some grad student’s thesis or a dissertation for a doctoral candidate. Most teams have similar offseason training, which has been reduced in all manners in the latest CBA. For example, players could be supervised in offseason workout/training programs by their NFL teams for 14 weeks under the previous CBA, which expired before the 2011 season. Beginning last year under the new CBA, that was reduced to 9 weeks. Also, practices were cut from 14 to 10, not counting a three-day minicamp.
--- YOU: Have the Steelers’ coaches expressed dissatisfaction with the play of Hood and Heyward? I really can’t tell if a 3-4 DE plays well or not and doubt most outside of a coach or scout can either.
ME: I’ve been told that Ziggy Hood’s play has been, to use a phrase Mike Tomlin likes, “below the line.’’ Heyward hasn’t played enough to tell, but if they thought he were better than Hood, you’d think they’d play him instead.
--- YOU: I am seeing some hub-bub on the web about the Steelers possibly acquiring Jones-Drew from the Jags or Steven Jackson from the Rams. Do you feel there is any credence to these rumors and how do you think either would fit in the Steelers’ backfield?
ME: I just looked up the definition of the web, and it is “hub-bub.’’ These are not rumors, but people suggesting that they’d like to see it. Jones-Drew might look nice in a Steelers uniform, but the cost is prohibitive. Jackson negotiated his way out of his contract and will be a free agent. He also will be 30 before the next season. The Steelers believe they already have enough of the over-30 group.
--- YOU: If Haley goes to Chicago or where ever, do you see Chan Gailey coming back to Pittsburgh.
ME: The Arizona Cardinals have received permission from the Steelers to interview Todd Haley. I do not believe the Bears are interested. Haley seems to be showing lukewarm interest in the Cardinals. Never say never. Gailey was a good coordinator here, albeit for just two seasons, 1996-97. He did not have much to work with at quarterback because Neil O’Donnell had left after the 1995 Super Bowl season and Kordell Stewart was judged not yet ready in ’96. Bill Cowher picked Jim Miller to start the season and then at halftime in the first game, switched to Mike Tomczak. Stewart took over in ’97 and the Steelers reached the AFC championship game at home, where they lost to John Elway and the Denver Broncos. Do I see him coming back to Pittsburgh, though if Haley were to leave? Never say never.
--- YOU: Isn't it amazing that a guy like Lewis is so desirable when he had no interceptions or forced turnovers; was part of a defense that just stopped the other team nearly every time and forced them to punt. Why would anybody want him? Just being a part of a #1 defense is really pretty meaningless I thought. I don't get it.
ME: It has nothing to do with being part of a No. 1 defense. If you saw Keenan Lewis play in 2012, you’d understand his value. He can cover receivers and led the league in passes defensed.
--- YOU: since Omar Khan was interviewed by the St. Louis Rams for their GM job last year, is he a candidate for GM openings in Cleveland, San Diego & elsewhere?
ME: I have not heard Khan’s name mentioned with any opening this year.
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