Rick in LA: Hi Gerry, If the Steelers do sign Plax (which makes sense to me), who is odd man out if Wallace shows up to play?
Gerry Dulac: There is no odd man out. The Steelers have only three reveivers right now. If Wallace reports and Burress is signed, that's five. That's the number of receivers they kept last year and the number they will keep this year. All it will do is move Jerricho Cotchery down a notch or two, back to the role he had last year early in the season. But Cotchery is also a proven slot receiver and would still play a lot.
John B.: Do you see us picking up any FA WRs? especially if the Wallace situation isnt resolved by regular season
Gerry Dulac: Absolutely. They have to sign a veteran wide receiver if Wallace doesn't report, and they will. But that is still probably a couple weeks away.
JAMESH: What do you read into Coach Tomlin announcing today that David Johnson has not been moved to FB and will be practicing at TE next week?
Gerry Dulac: That isn't what he said. All he said is that they will still use him as a tight end, not just strictly a fullback. It's the same role he played last year. Nothing has changed. Don't read too much into that fullback nonsense. It's greatly exaggerated and the role has little impact on the way the game is played today in the NFL.
Name me a team that regularly employs a fullback and I'll show you a 2-14 team.
JAMESH: Why is Heyward being held out from the Thursday night game?
Gerry Dulac: He got hit in the back in Friday night's scrimmage in Latrobe Stadium.
Kaiser_Soze: Gerry - this is two weeks now with no James Harrison? Something more wrong with him that what we're hearing?
Gerry Dulac: You might wait two more weeks before you ever see him, so don't start being impatient now. He has a knee injury that flared during workouts in the offseason and the Steelers want him ready for Sept. 9, not Aug. 9.
JAMESH: How do you see the Nickel Back spot playing out if Lewis is the starting CB, or if Cortez Allen is the starting CB?
Gerry Dulac: If Keenan Lewis is the starter, and he probably will be, Cortez Allen is the nickel back. Lewis has been pretty solid in training camp and the job is his to lose. So far, I haven't seen any indication he will.
Guest: Are you concerned about the depth behind our starting OLBs? I know Chris Carter has shown some stuff in camp, but Worlids is always hurt and theres not much behind that.
Gerry Dulac: I would be concerned if Worilds isn't able to play, though they think he eventually will. I said two weeks ago he would be out two to four weeks, but two being the most optimistic prognosis. It's likely he might not be ready until the third or fourth preseason game. And then the question remains -- how much will that wirst bother him. The problem comes when he bends and braces his wrist to take on blockers.
Stush: Dwyer, Clay, Batch - do they all make the team? Who is the odd man out?
Gerry Dulac: No. Even with Rashard Mendenhall on the PUP list, they will keep only four RBs. And I believe John Clay will end up back on the practice squad, where he began last year. Barring injury, another decision will have to be made when Mendenhall returns. And then it could be Dwyer. Depends how he performs while Mendenhall is out.
Stush: Are you surprised that Adams is cracking first team already? Seems like the draft buzz on him was that he was a raw talent that would need a little seasoning ...
Gerry Dulac: A little, but don't forget, he's only the starter now because Max Starks is on the PUP list. And Starks is the incumbent starter. But I'm not surprised he's moved ahead of Trai Essex on the depth chart because the coaches think a lot of his ability and they want to see how far along he is. No point in sitting him behind Essex, who is nothing more than a stop-gap reserve.
Guest: Do you see them using David Johnson as a TE so he can hold the spot down till Saunders gets back? (PS: ravens use the FB, granted they have one of the best in the league)
Gerry Dulac: That could be part of the thinking. But Johnson, also, is their best blocking tight end and they want to take advantage of that if necessary.
Stush: I enjoyed what you and Gene Collier wrote about McLendon being a beast - is he maybe the surprise player of this year's camp?
Gerry Dulac: I think that "surprise" label might have been more appropriate last year, but I think it can still apply because of how much bigger, stronger and dominating he has been. Surprise, surprise.
John B.: Have you noticed Ben asserting more leadership amongst the offense now that Hines is gone?
Gerry Dulac: No more than usual. And, if so, it's only part of a natural progression that exists when veteran departs and roles fall to other guys on the team.
Rick in LA: Seems like Jerrod J is slated for the No. 3 QB role in lieu of Charlie. Has he been that impressive, or is youth in the backup needed now (perfectly understandable)? I don't see Johnson clearing waiver for the PS.
Gerry Dulac: I wouldn't assume that at all. And what makes you think he won't clear waivers? My goodness, nobody has signed Dennis Dixon.
JAMESH: Does Pope get released when Saunders gets back?
Gerry Dulac: No. Long live the pope.
Bodie: Cortez Allen, Curtis Brown, Keenan Lewis ... who emerges as the week 1 starter? Is that race going down to the wire?
Gerry Dulac: Barring injury, or some rancid preseason play, it will be Lewis. As I said earlier, Allen will be the nickel back. But at some poiint the Steelers will want to get Allen and Curtis Brown on the field.
JAMESH: Everyone is raving about McLendon. Can you see Ta'Amu becoming the next Hoke instead of the next Hampton?
Gerry Dulac: No, As a fourth-round pick, Ta'amu will be one of those guys that if he's noit good enough to start in a couple years he will eventually be released. Guys like him are drafted with the hope and idea of being a starter. If they're not a starter, there's no point in keeping them.
Gerry Dulac: That's all the time we have today kids. See you next week for another weekly chat, though check your times and listings to see when.
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