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Thread: Steelers future at DE has arrived

      
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    Default Steelers future at DE has arrived

    Steelers future at DE has arrived
    Hood, Heyward a hit
    Wednesday, August 10, 2011
    By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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ID:	3004The Steelers saw the future of their defensive line last season when Aaron Smith was injured, and they liked what they saw.

    Ziggy Hood played so well in Smith's absence that the former No. 1 pick almost certainly will be like a fourth starter in their three-man line in 2011.

    "Ziggy is just like a starter," said defensive line coach John Mitchell. "He's going to play quite a bit."

    Hood's rapid emergence in his second season, when he started 13 games and had sacks in four of the final five games, is part of building the defensive line for the future.

    Now the Steelers have launched phase two with rookie defensive end Cameron Heyward, their No. 1 pick from Ohio State. He will be used much in the same manner as when Hood was a rookie in 2009 -- getting four or five snaps a game to get him acclimated to Dick LeBeau's defense and accustomed to the pace of the NFL.

    If he can progress at the same rate as Hood, or faster, the Steelers will consider their future restructuring right on schedule.

    "He's a hard worker," Mitchell said of Heyward, drafted with the 31st overall pick.

    "What he's realizing now is, he might have been in shape to play at Ohio State, but he's not in shape to play in the NFL. There's a big difference. That slowed him down for the first couple days, but he's getting in better shape. You can see some of the quickness he has. And he's learning how to play with strength."

    Like all rookies who couldn't go through an offseason program because of the lockout, Heyward is getting a crash course on playing defensive end with the Steelers -- an intricate role that requires a disciplined style to engage, read and get rid of the blocker.

    Heyward is in the process of trying to combine that with his natural athletic ability, which has jumped out at the coaches on the practice field at training camp at Saint Vincent College. They are eager to get a better look at his talent and what he has learned when the Steelers begin their preseason Friday night in Landover, Md., against the Washington Redskins.

    "I'm just trying to grasp this playbook now and take it one step at a time," said Heyward, son of the late former Pitt running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward who lived up in Monroeville until he was 8. "The toughest thing is just understanding the pace of everything on the field. The plays, I think, I can learn. But it's just trying to get it all in.

    "I'm just trying to grasp this playbook now and take it one step at a time," said Heyward, son of the late former Pitt running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward who lived up in Monroeville until he was 8. "The toughest thing is just understanding the pace of everything on the field. The plays, I think, I can learn. But it's just trying to get it all in.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11222/1166254-66.stm
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    I keep reading and hearing that Heyward is gonna be a beast. If he is as athletic as advertised, he could be QB's nightmare off the edge as well as a run stopping machine. Maybe LeBeau puts off retirement for a few years just to see what he can do with his new toy
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelreign View Post
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    I keep reading and hearing that Heyward is gonna be a beast. If he is as athletic as advertised, he could be QB's nightmare off the edge as well as a run stopping machine. Maybe LeBeau puts off retirement for a few years just to see what he can do with his new toy
    I would like that... Alot...

    ... BTW, the pic in the article is of Hood & Heyward toe-to-toe... I should'a put in the caption, but I'm just playing with the new editor...
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler View Post
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    I would like that... Alot...... BTW, the pic in the article is of Hood & Heyward toe-to-toe... I should'a put in the caption, but I'm just playing with the new editor...
    Lol.....he sure seems to have an affinity for aggression, I have a feeling he just might end up with alot more than 5 or 6 snaps a game. Can't wait to see him against Washington.
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    As much as I think a lot of us are enamoured of our D line, the changing of the guard is underway. It's good to see signs that building through the draft still can work.
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelreign View Post
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    I keep reading and hearing that Heyward is gonna be a beast. If he is as athletic as advertised, he could be QB's nightmare off the edge as well as a run stopping machine. Maybe LeBeau puts off retirement for a few years just to see what he can do with his new toy
    I'm not a huge fan of the 4-3 because I find the Defense to be quite limiting especially opposing all of the various defenses we face BUT I always was somewhat fond of what the Ravens had done under Rex Ryan which was play hybrid forms of 3-4, 4-3 and 46 defenses and do it depending on the opposing Offenses or what the opposing offenses were going to do. We never had that type of flexibility under Lebeau because our line is constructed mainly of big pure run stoppers and blockers to enable the linebackers.

    This "new" batch of guys coming in like Heyward and with Ziggy Hood, they have speed too and can pass rush. They have a lot more 4-3 lineman characteristics than the old standard 3-4, which could provide is some more flexibility. Facing guys like Rogers, Brees and Brady, we couldn't get a lot of collapse pressure from our front 3. Little to no push, add in some of these faster more rush type of guys and it adds an extra dynamic IMO to our front 3, to the point where you could shift a Woodley down easily since he played 4-3 in College and run a 4-3 on the dime to really mess with Offenses.



    Quote Originally Posted by War Machine View Post
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    As much as I think a lot of us are enamoured of our D line, the changing of the guard is underway. It's good to see signs that building through the draft still can work.
    It's needed changed. I'm still surprised that they never went to Aaron Smith to restructure his bloated contract or cut him. To be honest and as much as I liked Smith, he's old and really not needed anymore. He's a big cap hit BUT ..... I've seen it now in 2 Articles the past couple of days from I think Mitchell and Lebeau where one blatantly said "we don't like rookies" and talked about the complex scheme and system
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    I'm not a huge fan of the 4-3 because I find the Defense to be quite limiting especially opposing all of the various defenses we face BUT I always was somewhat fond of what the Ravens had done under Rex Ryan which was play hybrid forms of 3-4, 4-3 and 46 defenses and do it depending on the opposing Offenses or what the opposing offenses were going to do. We never had that type of flexibility under Lebeau because our line is constructed mainly of big pure run stoppers and blockers to enable the linebackers. This "new" batch of guys coming in like Heyward and with Ziggy Hood, they have speed too and can pass rush. They have a lot more 4-3 lineman characteristics than the old standard 3-4, which could provide is some more flexibility. Facing guys like Rogers, Brees and Brady, we couldn't get a lot of collapse pressure from our front 3. Little to no push, add in some of these faster more rush type of guys and it adds an extra dynamic IMO to our front 3, to the point where you could shift a Woodley down easily since he played 4-3 in College and run a 4-3 on the dime to really mess with Offenses. It's needed changed. I'm still surprised that they never went to Aaron Smith to restructure his bloated contract or cut him. To be honest and as much as I liked Smith, he's old and really not needed anymore. He's a big cap hit BUT ..... I've seen it now in 2 Articles the past couple of days from I think Mitchell and Lebeau where one blatantly said "we don't like rookies" and talked about the complex scheme and system
    Maybe since Heyward is more than familiar with this 3-4 scheme the staff will like/trust this rookie enough to give him more playing time. The coaching staff certainly seems impressed with the knowledge Heyward came in with already, so between that and his athletic ability, he should be able to contribute more than the typical rookie end does.
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelreign View Post
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    Maybe since Heyward is more than familiar with this 3-4 scheme the staff will like/trust this rookie enough to give him more playing time. The coaching staff certainly seems impressed with the knowledge Heyward came in with already, so between that and his athletic ability, he should be able to contribute more than the typical rookie end does.
    Perhaps. Plus I'd like to think that playing in the Front 3 isn't as challenging from a schematic view point as LB and DB is. We drop LB's a lot and DB's often will come up in run support, blitz, decoy etc... The back 8 do a lot where the front 3 have always been more about clogging running holes and making blocks to open up holes and lanes for LB's and DB's. Was a guy like Ziggy Hood unable to get into the lineup early on because of his lack of knowledge of the scheme and playbook or because he was being blocked by a vet?
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    Plus I'd like to think that playing in the Front 3 isn't as challenging from a schematic view point as LB and DB is.
    This is true schematically-speaking. However, these guys are constantly stunting/twisting and need to have the "feet" to get to the right gap to open things up for blitzing LB's. That said, I think the bigger challenge for a "5 Technique" DE is actually their "technique..." IE, the ability to use their leverage and upperbody strength to gain seperation, and maintain gap responsibility without over-pursuing the play. Most guys that are used to a 4-3, just put a hand down and go after it, not the case here. A true 5 tech needs to be able to use hand fighting and arm extension to "plug" their gaps, once they get to the right one. In Lebeau's defense, it truly is one of the most technical positions!

    My concern with this young group is finding someone who can absorb and resist double teams the way that Snack's been doing it for years. He is the keystone of this defense, and he aint gettin' any younger!
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    Perhaps. Plus I'd like to think that playing in the Front 3 isn't as challenging from a schematic view point as LB and DB is. We drop LB's a lot and DB's often will come up in run support, blitz, decoy etc... The back 8 do a lot where the front 3 have always been more about clogging running holes and making blocks to open up holes and lanes for LB's and DB's. Was a guy like Ziggy Hood unable to get into the lineup early on because of his lack of knowledge of the scheme and playbook or because he was being blocked by a vet?
    I'm sure some of it is lack of knowledge of scheme and playbook, but with LeBeau I think alot of it is trust and maybe to a fault. The staff has admitted they don't like playing young guys because of the experience factor. Keisel and Smith were backups for how long? Then they are 26-27 when they get the starting job. Theses young need to get playing time earlier on because that's how you learn......by doing.
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    Default Re: Steelers future at DE has arrived

    Quote Originally Posted by Bton66 View Post
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    This is true schematically-speaking. However, these guys are constantly stunting/twisting and need to have the "feet" to get to the right gap to open things up for blitzing LB's. That said, I think the bigger challenge for a "5 Technique" DE is actually their "technique..." IE, the ability to use their leverage and upperbody strength to gain seperation, and maintain gap responsibility without over-pursuing the play. Most guys that are used to a 4-3, just put a hand down and go after it, not the case here. A true 5 tech needs to be able to use hand fighting and arm extension to "plug" their gaps, once they get to the right one. In Lebeau's defense, it truly is one of the most technical positions!My concern with this young group is finding someone who can absorb and resist double teams the way that Snack's been doing it for years. He is the keystone of this defense, and he aint gettin' any younger!
    I really believe Anthony Gray is the answer to replace Hampton. Coming out of college, the big knock on him was his arm length and his height. To my thinking that's BS because he can get better leverage in a physically stronger package than Hampton.
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