Pittsburgh Steelers: Willie Colon

Bill Cowher weighs in on Steelers

October, 10, 2013
Steel City wake-up: morning links

A familiar face will be part of the CBS broadcast when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the New York Jets on Sunday. Bill Cowher will work as an analyst, and his first game in this role just happens to feature the team he coached from 1992-2006. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette caught up with Cowher and got his thoughts on a number of subjects, including what has ailed the 0-4 Steelers.

Turnovers have been a problem and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has committed six of them in the last two games alone. Safety Ryan Clark said during a visit to ESPN last week that Roethlisberger’s trademark of extending plays sometimes costs the Steelers because that style can lead to turnovers. Clark clarified his remarks but he didn’t back away from them.

Not backing down has long been a part of Willie Colon’s mindset as well as his game. The former Steelers guard is now playing for the Jets, and Sunday he will block the same players that are still his close friends. The Steelers released Colon during the offseason, but he had only good things to say about the organization he played for from 2006-12.

Cameron Heyward is among the players that Colon and the Jets’ offensive line will try to keep away from rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Heyward has supplanted Ziggy Hood as the starter at defensive end opposite Brett Keisel, and the Steelers’ 2011 first-round pick is hoping to help a pass rush that has generated just four sacks.

The newest member of the Steelers’ defensive line, Hebron Fangupo, took a long and winding road to the NFL. His story is a compelling one and Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley does an excellent job of telling it in a long-form piece.

Foster takes charge on offensive line

September, 26, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger thinks the Steelers’ offensive line needs to play with more of an edge, and Ramon Foster agrees with him.

That is why the Steelers’ left guard went to Mike Tomlin at the beginning of the week and told the seventh-year coach that he wanted to assume leadership of the line.

“I was here with guys such as Willie Colon and Trai (Essex) and Chris Kemoeatu and they were angry guys on the field,” Foster said. “I learned under those guys to finish every doggone play and take no mess from anybody. I think that’s got to be exhibited more on the field.”

I wondered even before Roethlisberger’s comment on the offensive line how much the Steelers missed a player like Colon.

Colon, raised in the Bronx, was one of the toughest guys in the Steelers’ locker room. He took a brawler’s mentality onto the field with him, and he wouldn’t stand for the Steelers' offensive line getting pushed around.

I understand why the Steelers had to part ways with Colon, who is now with the New York Jets. They needed salary cap relief, and Colon, who signed a five-year $29.5 million contract in 2011, couldn’t stay on the field because of injuries.

But man do they need more guys to show more fight -- literally, at times, if needed -- as Colon would have done if the Steelers’ linemen were taking more punches than they were delivering in the trenches.

Credit Foster for not only recognizing this but also vowing to do something about it.

“Not to say that we’re playing soft or anything like that but when teams look at our film they’ve got to understand that you’re playing against the Steelers,” said Foster, who is in his fifth season in Pittsburgh after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2009. “We can’t just put on our pads and expect guys to respect us.

“Teams come in to play us as if they’re playing for a Super Bowl most times. They get one on us and they laugh down on us. When we put out our film we’ve got to make sure guys respect what they’re seeing, that it’s not going to be an easy game for them. We had guys in the past that jumped on the pile late and got a $15,000 fine.”

Foster chuckled when asked if someone along the line needed to take that hit so to speak. But he didn’t quite go that far in saying that the Steelers' linemen need to summon more nastiness when they are on the field.

“You’ve got to be smart and angry at the same doggone time,” Foster said. “We are a Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line. We’ve got to show that, and guys (need to) understand that. We keep (Roethlisberger) up, we block well we’ve got a good shot at turning this thing around and being the team that we want to be.”