Both Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert met with the press during NFL’s recent owners meetings, but the slew of articles these meetings spawned led to little real news for Steelers fans.
Tomlin stated that the Steelers can a good team but reaffirmed that greatness is determined on the field. He also indicated that injured starts such as Max Starks, Marvel Smith, Ryan Clark, Aaron Smith, and Willie Parker and healing well and should be back at full strength. None of this was new to the attentive souls in Steelers Nation.
Those same observant fans, however, had to have been amused by the Post-Gazette article “When Big Ben Talks, Colbert Listens to His Wishes.” To the untrained eye, it might appear as if Ben gained pull than simply his 102 million dollar contract. Roethlisberger has publicly called for Pittsburgh to draft a tall wide out.
When asked about this, Colbert stated, “…if a tall receiver happens to be a good receiver and a value pick, that's something we'll definitely consider.” Translation: The Steelers will not deviate from their plan to draft the best available player to satisfy Ben’s wishes.
Mike Tomlin did however share some insight regarding wide receivers, with praise former 7th round pick and practice squad player Dallas Baker. Tomlin informed that “[Baker] made plays on a daily basis (in practice) that raised some eyebrows.” While the coach was quick to point out that doing it in practice is not the same as in a game, at 6’3” 203 lbs. Baker holds potential. While he will probably never become a world beater, he could develop into a good 4th or even 3rd receiver.
Kevin Colbert also clarified that Max Starks remains in the Steelers plans, and that they have not made much progress on the long term deal they seek because of all the work they did running up to the owners meeting. It appears that the Steelers are succeeding their gambit to scare other teams from Starks. Starks showed a lot of versatility last year, and it would be good to have him back. It remains to be seen if the transition tag will force the Steelers to over paying to keep him.
Finally, John Harris of the Tribune Review brought us another twist in the Anthony McFarland story. McFarland is apparently not ready to play, but both he and the team were pleased by his work out. Tomlin asserted that he remains interested in McFarland, and if that is the case then the Post-Gazette was again mistaken when they commented that Nick Eason’s signing signaled the end of the Steelers interest in McFarland.*
It will be interesting to see how the McFarland situation unfolds following the draft; likewise, Dallas Baker’s performance also bears watching.
*Although this is not an offical edition of "Watch Tower," the Tribune-Review whipped Post-Gazette again by delivering the news on McFarland, Starks, and Baker.