And so it begins. Maurkice Pouncey took the first-team reps today, effectively ending Justin Hartwig’s gig as the Steelers starting center. I haven’t been as down on Hartwig as other folks, but I admit that could have more to do with the memories of Sean Mahan ending every play seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. By comparison, Hartwig was Jeff Hartings. Which means that Pouncey is Mike Webster.
Hey, we’ve been begging for the team to take an offensive lineman in the first round for years. The Steelers finally obliged, and now, after three weeks of practice and two preseason games, it’s Maurkice’s job.
Next up: what to do with Hartwig. That decision may hinge on how his competition performs in the final two preseason games, but I’m guessing if Tony Hills and Kraig Urbik continue to play well, Pittsburgh parts ways with Hartwig and his $2.01 million salary. Commence youth movement.
The real reason I whipped up this post wasn’t to point out the Pouncey news. Yes, that’s important, but my main motivation was to draw attention to all the arm-waving coming out of Cleveland about Colt McCoy. Or as I like to call him: Charlie Frye 2.0. In the last couple days there have been reports that 2.0 has played so poorly in the preseason that he might not make the Browns final 53.
I doubt it’s true but either way, think about that for a second: an organization that has featured such luminaries as Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Frye, Trent Dilfer, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, and now Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, are allegedly considering giving up on their 2010 third-round pick because of a few horrible showings. If anything, this team should be well acquainted with staring up at mediocrity. You’d think they’d be patient with the newest actor in the tragicomedy. Then again, maybe Mike Holmgren’s Cleveland makeover plans don’t include waiting around for average talent to prove that they’re, well, average.
Whatever, for now it seems that McCoy’s roster spot is safe … “barring unforeseen circumstances.” Via the Cleveland Plain Dealer, I found this sentence both telling and sad.
“The Browns brought [McCoy] in to learn behind Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, and that’s exactly what he’s been doing.”
But not as sad as the one that followed: “In his previous two outings, the brown-white scrimmage and the Green Bay game, McCoy threw four interceptions. Overall, he’s completed 5-of-12 attempts for 25 yards with no TDs and two picks for a dismal 9.7 rating. But Mangini chalked it up to rookie growing pains.”
Well, growing pains coupled with mentoring sessions from Pick-Six Delhomme.
The worst part: the Brady Quinn-led Browns beat the Steelers last season. God almighty.
So I just saw this tweet from ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss: “The Patriots and kicker Stephen Gostkowski reach agreement on a contract extension, according to NFL source.” Apparently, it’s a four-year, $14 million deal ($5 mil guaranteed). Just a shot in the dark, but Skippy’s probably not psyched about the news. But here’s the difference: Gostkowski had 21 touchbacks last season. Reed has 23 since 2007.
We’ve talked about it before, but instead of overhauling the special teams, it might make more sense to find somebody who can regularly put kickoffs in the end zone. (Or, alternatively, both — which explains the ROBO-KICKOFF-SPECIALIST experiment.)
Bryant McFadden is doubtful for the Broncos game, and that means Keenan Lewis will likely get the start (Lewis suffered a concussion against the Giants and he’s listed as probable for Denver). Repeating here for effect: commence youth movement.