Spring practices are over, which means Mike Tomlin's first offseason camp has wrapped up. Since the drills are over, Tomlin needed to create a preliminary depth chart for his first team. Tomlin did just that, but stressed that the selections are written in pencil, to show that no starter's job is safe.
"No job is secure," Tomlin insisted. "This is not a security business and if they are looking for security, they need to find a new line of work."
If any Steeler wants to see their name written in pen, they need to put forth the effort required, and prove to the new coach that they have what it takes. Tomlin isn't Coach Cowher. He's made that abundantly clear. He's a rookie coach who is trying to turn around a .500 team. But what about the Super Bowl? That's in the past, too. Pittsburgh is no longer the reigning champ, and needs to understand that they can be just as bad as the next team. Or just as good.
Those of us who have been around the Steelers long enough know that several players are sure-fire starters. Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Jeff Reed and Willie Parker would really have to mess up to be replaced in the starting lineup. For the rest of the team, though, they only need to look at their names written in pencil to see that it can easily be erased.
Here's some of the starters that Tomlin has "penciled" in.
Chukky Okobi at Center. Although the team brought in free agent Sean Mahan, Okobi will open training camp as the first stringer.
Ryan Clark over Anthony Smith at Free Safety. Consensus says that Smith has a good shot at taking Clark's starting spot. PSaMP is a huge Anthony Smith fan. He's a big hitter who can make fans forget that Chris Hope was ever on the team.
Max Starks over Willie Colon at Right Tackle. Starks was the starter last year, but Colon has looked good. Starks is a beast, but needs to work to prove that he deserves to stay in the starting spot.
Deshea Townsend over Bryant McFadden at Right Cornerback. Townsend is getting older, but can still provide veteran leadership to our young CB corps. PSaMP is a McFadden supporter, but still admires the longevity of the undersized Townsend. Plus if the Steelers get rid of Deshea, Hines Ward is gonna have to look for a new roomie at training camp.
Ike Taylor over every other corner at Left Cornerback. Taylor is on Tomlin's good side, after Bill Cowher benched the former starter last year. Taylor needs to show that last year's struggles were a fluke, and he needs to live up to the big contract he signed.
Training camp starts next month, and these "starters" still need to work to have the pencil changed to pen. PSaMP likes Tomlin's message, and it appears that he has the team focused on coming into the season strong after last year's debacles.
He's young. He's a rookie. But Tomlin's showing that he isn't about to take any shit.