Categorized | Article

The Kids Are Alright


By Michael K. Reynolds

Lost in the shuffle of the Tomlin Two-Step, the heart breaking loss to the Baltimore Ravens and the analysis and counter analysis of the Pittsburgh Steelers fading playoffs hopes, there is one startling…and encouraging reality.

The kids are alright.

Slowly, a new generation of Steelers players are pushing their way to the forefront, establishing themselves as the recipients of much Terrible Toweling in the future.

It’s been a long time coming, this much needed youth movement. That’s because it’s been stalled by the Steelers success over the past decade. For after participating in three Super Bowls it’s hard for the newbies to get playing time over entitled veterans, but that has all changed this year.

Think about it. We’re actually pleading for Kelvin Beachum to recover from his knee nick so he can play left tackle this weekend! Who would have thought that would be on anyone’s wish list at the beginning of the summer? But after his performance against Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil he is proving to be one of the bright new stars of a vastly improving offensive line.

And David DeCastro? Maybe he is the next Alan Faneca after all. Marcus Gilbert? All quiet on the right side, which is good news. While Le’Veon Bell has been rushing for touchdowns, fans have been rushing to get his jersey. His running mate Jonathan Dwyer is a youngster as well and shines every chance he gets at turf time. We haven’t even seen what Markus Wheaton is capable of yet and he may emerge as the most talented of this year’s draft class.

Antonio Brown? Superstar. And only 25 years old. Don’t forget that Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey is still a young pup. That’s just the offense.

On defense the youth movement is lead by Cameron Heyward, an emerging force. Even Ziggy Hood is flashing a little stardust these days. Jason Worilds might be staking a claim as the next great Steelers rush linebacker if they find a way to keep him. Cortez Allen? Gotta love him chasing down Jacoby Jones, with or without the Coach Mike Tomlin assist. Look out for Terence Garvin, he’s a diamond in the rough.

Starting to find their way are Steve McLendonJarvis JonesRobert GoldenVince WilliamsAl Woods and Shamarko Thomas.

This isn’t your grandpa’s Pittsburgh Steelers and that’s a good thing. Because there is a new generation in town. One flashing character and talent and forging a whole new personality of their own. In a season with ups and downs, this is perhaps the best news of all.

Yes, it’s good to be a Steelers fan. Because the kids are alright.

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About Michael K. Reynolds

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland series. MichaelKReynolds.com
  • JAMESH

    Who is Ziggy Woods?

  • Deuce22

    I think he may have mixed Ziggy Hood with Al Woods. I’m sure he meant Hood as he speaks of Woods later on. But I do agree, I love the youth movement that we have. It is leading us in the right direction. Maybe not this year, but I think if we have a healthy o-line for a complete year, and these young guys step it up, we can be a force to be reckoned with.

  • steeltown

    Agree with most of what is mentioned, although I haven’t seen much contribution from Golden to this point. I was really high on him going into last season, but im not sure he’s much more than a depth and special teams guy at this point

  • RW

    You forgot to mention Will Johnson.

  • Chad H

    He is a new guy in the youth development program. So new you haven’t heard of him. He plays DE, LT, QB and free safety. He is pretty good.

  • colingrant

    Great article and something’s that’s surprisingly gone unnoticed to a degree. While talking heads attribute our down year to aging vets, I attribute it to a plethora of younger players who are too inexperienced to play at a high level, let alone a championship level at this stage. The age the media speaks of is in three positions out of a total of 22. It’s an easy story and point to put out, but it greatly lacks in substance and reality. All one has to do is look at the starting roster to see its age top-heavy at both safeties and one corner.

  • srdan

    Fully agreed. And if you notice when they speak of our age kiesel is always included as the starter. Clark has to go, period. But the other two aging vets in teh secondary have a great twighlight future w the steelers if you ask me. Of course I am biased. Polumalu at LB/rover is very productive. He is actually the type of lb the league is moving to. He is not going anywhere. Ike matches up well with tall receivers. He goes into slumps, and only his age is making us believe that he is not coming out of this one. Even if that is true, he is an ambassador of the game, and what he does for teamates in Fla. every offseason can’t be overlooked. He is a leader in his own way. I am not sure he can make the switch to S ala charles woodson but there is not a huge market for ike, and there is a lot of dead money tied up with him so he is not going anywhere.

  • dgh57

    I like some of the players we have in the pipeline beyond this season such as B. Arnfelt, N Williams, N. Embernate, and S. Spence even though some haven’t been given much opportunity to show what they can do.

  • srdan

    And quietly our Oline has solidifed (by our standards). Tomlin seldom dresses 8, and next year he can have 8 if we keep velasco and all are pretty young. A good offseason with the same oline coach i think we can expect some good fruit.

  • Luke Shabro

    Might be looking at a roving safet in the first couple rounds this year. To me Shark is about the same TYPE of player as Troy

  • Bradley Campbell

    We have some building blocks, the bad news is that we have some pretty ugly OLD vet contracts that may keep us from re-upping a few of these kids. Worilds /Gilber /Pouncey/ Sanders ???

  • steeltown

    Yea, we need a another Safety and 2CBs to groom

  • steeltown

    Sanders is gone, Hood might be gone too, same with Worilds though I hope they find a way to keep him because we lack depth at OLB
    I think Pouncey, Cortez Allen and Gilbert all receive extensions when the time comes

  • steeltown

    Indeed

  • steeltown

    Agreed.. I’d even throw in the newly acquired Ray Graham (if healthy)

  • JohnB

    hopefully he’s better than Ziggy Hood

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Actually I’m pleading hard for a strong cover cornerback candidate. I mean forget zone cornerback, forget the “best tackling” CB, even the best size/athleticism. Gimme a guy who CAN get up there and get us TOs. Get us the same guy that wouldn’t be pressured to go in and play asap, we want to shutdown #1 WR, as today game #1 WR usually go down the field as part of schematically distracting the defense.

    Secondly, as much I want us to get a free safety, I’m okay with a mid-round safety, we still have Will Allen and he ain’t bad.

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    Drats…I long for the days when people were named John Smith. Take a look at those names for our players! Thanks for head’s up. I’m glad I’ve got Dave to fix my mistakes.

  • Jazz

    I hope the resign Worilds; Woodley has been a bitter disappointment since signing his extension back in 2010 or was it 2011? Regardless, let Worilds play on the left side, continue to groom JJ on the right. Or, if Woodley is willing to take a pay cut, let him play on the right, groom Jones in the middle. Hopefully Cortez Allen can stay healthy, I still think he is a better all around corner than Ike Taylor. Ike has done a wonderful job, you have to commend him for it too. But Ike biggest deficiency as a corner has always been this – he lacks the skill set when it comes to playing the ball. The sad thing about it is this, the Front Office has addressed the CB issue in the draft for years, they simply keep selecting duds! I can’t figure this out at all. Maybe the Organization is overrated; could it be that the F/O needs to reevaluate the way they select their DB’s?

  • Jazz

    Well said; with that said, hopefully the F/O will recognize this and stop holding onto players past their prime! Lets go back to the 90′s, don’t hold onto players past their prime, it’s a young mans sport. Ike, Troy, Clark? It’s time to move on baby, time to move on.

  • Jazz

    I disagree totally! That kind of thinking is the main reason the Steelers are in the mess they currently are. Take a cap hit for a year, reevaluate the way they are paying this guys. It’s time to Sh!t or get off of the pot. Ike Taylor? I could care less what he does with the younger players in the off-season, what the hell is he doing on the field? Inconsistency, too slow, no longer has the ability to recover when he gets out of position. I could care less of the type of relationship he has with Mr. Rooney. He needs to Go, Period! Troy? He maybe has one good year left in him as well; have you actaully watched the games this year? Those three guys, Ike, Troy and Ryan Clark look like my Grandmother trying to cover people in the secondary. Ryan Clark? ESPN is awaiting him, thanks for everything, time to go. Speed, the ability to cover and tackle, the Steelers secondary lack all three. Time to move on.

  • srdan

    This is not madden. You don’t just trade and cut, and pickup. There is the issue of the lockeroom and community. If you don’t want to hear that, please look at the Bungles.
    On the field, I think you missed my reply. I think troy is faster than every linebacker in the league. In a league where nickle and dime is played 60-70% of the time I believe he has 3-4 years of contribution left.
    Ike, I personally believe he takes care of himself, and is in somewhat of a slump. I don’t think he is worse than he was a year ago or two. If they draft a corner to play ahead of him i would be happy.

    Your scalpel approach to age would have kept this team from signing someone like william gay.

    I don’t think that this approach has brought “this team to the mess they currently are”. I don’t think this team is a mess at all. But for arguments sake I think the main reason is the failed draft of 2008. On a team that grooms talent instead of buying it, that is a huge gap to fill. In addition, we haven’t picked players that have shined. Until this year. And because of this year, I strongly disagree with you that this team is a mess. Yes, were not use to this record, but in the free-agency era of the NFL, the league rules are built to have this type of downturn and resurgence much quicker. Seattle, 49ers, Broncos, Chiefs….Compare their record 3 years ago, and today.

  • HiVul

    Eh I have a boring white name like John Smith, honestly a name like Shamarko or Cortez is easier to remember and more fun to say haha. Plus those names are phonetic so spelling isn’t a problem

  • Jacob Dixon

    He should be a special teams captain he is pretty good on special teams

  • JAMESH

    Phonetically should be spelled fonetiklee.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Everything was credible until he include Ziggy on the list. Flashes? Of what? They better give this guy a bag of chips and have him sub for the starters.

  • steeltown

    Yea I agree, and I hope they re-sign Will Allen this offseason on a modest 1or2yr deal

  • steeltown

    Well technically they have found and groomed a few, if we had Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and William Gay as our starting CBs we’d be set for yrs

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