Pittsburgh Steelers: Geno Atkins

LaMarr Woodley pulling for Lynch

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
Steel City wake-up: morning links

The last time the Seattle Seahawks played in the Super Bowl tight end Jerramy Stevens made headlines for inciting a war of words with Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter.

This time a Seahawks player is making news for what he isn't saying.

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has been a most reluctant participant in the media sessions that are mandatory for the players and coaches on each team.

Lynch has said very little and candidly admitted the only reason he has shown up for the media scrums is so he won't get fined. Lynch has received some criticism for not cooperating more with the media during the sessions, but among those who have defended the Pro Bowl back are Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

Woodley, while appearing on the BET's 106 & Park on Wednesday, predicted that the Seahawks will beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. He also said he will be pulling for Seattle on Sunday because of his friendship with Lynch.

"He's been getting a lot of [criticism] talking about how he don't do no media stuff, but he's a great dude," Woodley said. "He comes out to my football camp every year. He's great with the kids. Everybody loves him and I want to see him get a ring."
  • Jerome Bettis got his ring when the Steelers beat Stevens' Seahawks in the 2005 Super Bowl and then rolled triumphantly into retirement. "The Bus" has yet to pull into Canton, Ohio, but that could change Saturday. Bettis is among 15 modern-day finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and this should be the year he achieves football immortality.
  • Steelers.com's Teresa Varley caught up with Bill Cowher, and the former Steelers coach is among those who are lobbying for Bettis to make it into the Hall of Fame on his fourth try.
  • Here is a clip I meant to post earlier of Bettis and Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen appearing together on ESPN's "SportsCenter." The two talked Pittsburgh and didn't limit their discussion to sports.
  • From the Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette writes that the Seahawks' success could have a similar on impact on Seattle as the Steelers' rise in the 1970s did on Pittsburgh.
  • The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly examines a significant shift in Mike Tomlin's philosophy when it comes to hiring assistant coaches.

And around the rest of the AFC North...
  • ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley has been busy tracking the additions and subtractions on John Harbaugh's coaching staff. Hensley ponders the influence new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak could have as Harbaugh fills the remaining openings on his staff.
  • ESPN.com Browns reporter Pat McManamon writes about Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase -- and how his focus on his current job prevented him from becoming a serious candidate for the head-coaching position that Cleveland filled last week.
  • ESPN.com Bengals reporter Coley Harvey takes a look at how injuries to defensive tackle Geno Atkins and cornerback Leon Hall shaped Cincinnati's season.

NFL draft watch: DT Aaron Donald

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
PITTSBURGH -- Aaron Donald has continued at the Senior Bowl what he did during a storied a career at Pitt.

[+] EnlargeAaron Donald
AP Photo/Johnny VyThe Steelers have the advantage of familiarity with Pitt's Aaron Donald but have to wonder whether he fits into their defensive scheme.
The Penn Hills High School graduate has been the hardest player to block during practices, according to anyone within three zip codes of Mobile, Ala. No less an NFL draft authority than the NFL Network's Mike Mayock has compared Donald to Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins.


ESPN's NFL draft experts on the ground are similarly impressed with Donald. Here is one item from a story that Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl collaborated on after watching the Senior Bowl practices: "Donald showed the ability to beat offensive linemen with quickness, power and active hands, and his ability to do it so many different ways make it that much harder to keep him off the quarterback."

Sounds like a player who will really help a team.

And the Steelers should know as much if not more about Donald than any other team by the time the NFL draft rolls around in May.

Pitt shares a practice facility with the Steelers, and general manager Kevin Colbert has said the team does more homework on local prospects because proximity provides that advantage -- and because the Steelers don't want to let a potential great player get away.

The problem with Donald: He clearly is a better fit in 4-3 defense as an attacking tackle rather than a hold-the-point-of-attack end in a 3-4 scheme.

The 6-foot, 288-pound Donald is probably too small to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense and would likely be miscast in that role, too.

But he also seems like a classic case of player who transcends measurables and can play regardless of scheme. The Steelers, I'm guessing, would love to keep Donald in Pittsburgh but their top picks will be used on players who are better fits for them and fill a need.

And since it is unlikely that Donald lasts beyond the second round of the draft, he will probably continue his football career outside of Pittsburgh.