Many thanks again to Stan Savran and maryrose for the lenghty, interesting interview yesterday. Now, I want to hear some of your guys' thoughts about the upcoming 2008 season for the Steelers. I will pose a question, you fill in the blank, hopefully with an explanation. Let's get on it.
1) Which newly acquired veteran will have the biggest impact in 2008?
My take: I'm going with Justin Hartwig. As much as I'd like to say Mewelde Moore, I think Hartwig could be the key to our success this coming year. We've voiced our concerns about the offensive line time and time again, but I believe it's possible that solid play at center could have a domino effect of sorts along the rest of our line. Hartwig's no world-beater, but he's a legitimate and capable NFL center that should be an upgrade over Sean Mahan.
2) Which veteran is most likely to replaced in the starting lineup?
My take: This is a tough one. James Farrior is an option, and according to Jim Wexell, Lawrence Timmons is making huge strides this offseason. That said, I think Farrior will probably start, and it's not really all that important, as both he and Timmons will see plenty of playing time in 2008 if they're both healthy. Mahan's an option, but I think that's somewhat obvious. DeShea Townsend is also an option, as we've discussed that Bryant McFadden is hoping to break through and secure a starting role prior to his free agency. Any others?
3) Which veteran will have a breakout year in 2008 (think James Harrison in 2007)?
My take: Tons of choices here: Santonio, Heath Miller, Anthony Smith, Brett Keisel, et. al. I'll go with Keisel simply because he'll have LaMarr Woodley garnering attention on his side of the line. That should leave him in one-on-one situations all the time and likely no running back chipping at him if he gets a step. Keisel was close to having a great year in 2007, but could never -quite- get to the QB in time. He batted down plenty of passes, hurried the quarterback lots, and helped the rush defense be solid once again last year. Perhaps he'll have a more impressive season statistically in 2008.
4) Which veteran is most likely to have a rebound year in 2008?
My take: I'm going to go with Troy Polamalu here. I was tempted to go with Ryan Clark, a risky pick, but he's had his back against the wall many times in his career and rebounded nicely in each instance. Polamalu though, has nowhere to go but up following a year where he didn't have an INT or sack. I like the fact that he's on a workout regiment that he feels comfortable with, and he's at that age where it's time to reestablish himself as one of the unique and great players in this league or become one of many in sports who never could quite reach the level of excellence he seemed so destined for. I have faith in Troy. Aaron Smith is another choice. As is Marvel Smith.
5) Which low-profile, non-rookie is most likely to come out of nowhere to make a significant impact in 2008?
My take: I would go with William Gay here, our second year CB out of Louisville, but I think the CB position is a bit too crowded this year for him to make too much of an impact. Perhaps next year if BMac walks and DeShea gets even older. Willie Colon and Chris K are both sound choices as well. Sure, we may talk about them lots simply because they're on the line and that's a hot-topic issue for discussion, but let's face it, those guys are low-profile football players in the NFL, and both have a chance to really help our team this year. Matt Spaeth is also an option, and he has been mentioned by the media as another player who's had a great offseason. I wish him all the best, but honestly, I'd be a bit confused if he was getting his number called over Heath Miller. I think Heath is under-utilized, so before Spaeth can become a big-time offensive threat, I'd first like to see us get Miller the ball more. I'm going to go with Chris K. If Marvel Smith is healthy, and if Hartwig holds his own at center, Chris K could help Steelers fans, and the rest of the football loving country, forget about Alan Faneca more quickly than we expected.
What do you think? We'll do this again, with a new set of questions, soon enough.