The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s John Harris seems to indicate that the answer is ‘yes.’
Life has been difficult for McFadden of late. Brought back on a draft day trade to shore up the Steelers secondary, he warded off a training camp challenge from 2009 third round pick Keenan Lewis.
But Terrell Owens had his way with McFadden in last week’s game against the Bengals. And according to statistics that Harris cites, Carlson Palmer targeted Owens 14 times, and 10 of those balls found their mark, including two that went for touchdowns.
Drew Brees enjoyed similar success against McFadden, although McFadden did have a sack strip in that game.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Harris’ column is the following:
…McFadden's value is falling like Blockbuster stock.
There are indications, if you know where to look, that McFadden's status as the starting left corner is becoming more precarious each day. Local journalists aren't permitted to report what occurs at practice, but there were signs last week that a shakeup in the secondary could be forthcoming.
What can we take from this?
It is hard to be completely sure. Harris certainly wants to convey to his readers that he’s seen evidence, based on who is getting snaps with which unit, that the Steelers are grooming a replacement for McFadden.
This certainly might be the case.
Or it might not.
The Steelers have been vocal about journalists leaking confidential information from daily practices, and while Harris avoided revealing specifics, his implication was clear. Would he risk getting his press credentials revoked?
Second, there is Harris’ history. John Harris has made some astute observations in the past, rightly sounding the alarm when the Steelers released special teams ace Anthony Madison prior to the 2009 season.
However, Harris has show a penchant for stoking flames for the sake of stoking flames. Last season he incurred the wrath of the Watch Tower twice for asserting that “Tomlin had quit” on his team, and then offering no journalistic evidence (quotes, off the record comments) whatsoever to bloster such a bold claim.
Harris is right about one thing. The Steelers did not bring back Bryant McFadden to bench him, so it will be interesting to see how this story plays out on the field.
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