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Steelers Blog

Ready to run with it

Posted by Teresa Varley on November 8, 2012 – 9:10 pm

There is nothing Isaac Redman hates more than standing on the sidelines being a spectator, so when he returned to the field last Sunday against the Giants after being inactive the previous two weeks, it came as a huge relief.

“It felt good to be back,” said Redman, who missed two games with an ankle injury. “I was out too long. I wanted to get back on the field and help the team win. I hate being on the sideline watching everybody go to war and I am not able to help.”

Redman definitely did his share to help against the Giants, rushing for 147 yards and a touchdown in the 24-20 win, turning out the performance he had been hoping for all season.

“When we were behind, and the running backs were down I knew it was going to be mostly me,” said Redman. “I wanted to put it on my shoulders and carry the team when it came to rushing. I didn’t want to let them down even though I was banged up. I just fought through it.”

The team should have Jonathan Dwyer back this week after he missed the Giants game with a quadriceps injury, and Rashard Mendenhall is also gradually working his way back to full health.

Coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week that whoever is being productive when healthy is “going to get the totes.” That is something Redman likes to hear, knowing it’s up to each back to get the job done.

“That makes you feel better because you know the deciding factor is on you,” said Redman. “If you perform well, you will be in the game and get the ball. It’s who is playing well at the present time and it makes you feel good about yourself.

“You have to take the opportunity and run with it. You have to put your bid in and try to impress the coaches so when everybody is healthy you get your carries and are not sitting on the bench.”

While some might look at the lack of a definitive main guy in the running game right now, Redman thinks it can be an advantage to have three backs that are capable of starting and are all working towards the same goal.

“We are trying to win so at the end of the day I am not selfish saying I want to be the starting running back and carrying the ball 26 times a game,” said Redman. “We have three guys that are capable of being a starting running back and I would like to see all three of us get carries and be able to pound defenses out.

“It’s just scary to see what we can do when all three of us are able to carry the ball at the same time.”

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Signing for a good cause

Posted by Teresa Varley on November 8, 2012 – 9:00 pm

It might have looked like a simple autograph session on Thursday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Cranberry, Pa., but it was far more and will go a long way in helping those in need in Allegheny County.

Six Steelers players, including Charlie Batch, Jonathan Dwyer, Larry Foote, Keenan Lewis, Maurkice Pouncey, and Shaun Suisham signed autographs during two different sessions in exchange for donations to the United Way.

“It takes a whole community to address the most critical needs here in Allegheny County,” said Linda Jones, vice president of workplace campaigns. “The Steelers are such great supporters. It is critical for us to have the community come together to make an impact to help with those needs and we are glad to have a great partnership with the Steelers to be able to provide that opportunity.

“As Bob Nelkin (President of the United Way of Allegheny County) says all of the time the United Way is the business community and the employees of those businesses coming together to make an impact. The business community and employees are so critical to us to be a successful organization.”

No player understands the need the United Way has more than Batch, who has been the Steelers’ United Way spokesman for the past six years. He speaks to companies to encourage their participation, but he also understands individual donations are just as meaningful.

“It’s always important,” said Batch. “Any time you have the chance to go to different areas and raise money for the United Way it’s special to be a part of.

“I know how important it is to raise money from corporations, from people throughout the city. I think you need to continually remind people of the importance of the United Way because there are people out there that need help.”

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Coordinator’s Corner: Haley & LeBeau

Posted by Teresa Varley on November 8, 2012 – 6:32 pm

Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley

Is there anything more to this game?
No. Honestly no. Every game of the week is the biggest game of the year. This is the biggest game of the year as far as I am concerned, because it’s this week. This team needs to continue doing the things on offense and continue to get better.

Re: Some players said you were a little different in the meeting room yesterday:
I don’t recall doing anything differently. We have one goal in mind and that’s to continue to get better in all facets on offense. This will be a very good test for us.

Does being familiar with the Chiefs’ personnel help at all?
To an extent, understanding matchups and things like that. As an offensive coach, as we went through the game plan, I got a pretty good feel for most of the guys. There are some new guys there, but I would say it’s a benefit.

What are your memories from your time in Kansas City?
I’m very proud, number one, of the things myself and the players were able to accomplish. I thought we made a lot of progress. Even taking the 2010 division win out of the equation, last year was probably the year I was most proud of because in difficult circumstances, losing three really good players early in the year, and starting as poorly as we did, we battled back and won four games in a row, which is hard to do in this league. We hung in there and beat Chicago on the road playing with really our third team quarterback at that time. I’m proud of my players from that time and have a lot of really good feelings towards all of them. They’re good memories.

What has allowed RB Jamaal Charles to put up big numbers?
I haven’t really seen him on offense. I watched a little bit of the game last week on TV but haven’t seen enough really to comment. He’s a heck of a player, though. I really haven’t seen him post-injury. He’s put up some big numbers. I know he’s a heck of a player and came a long way during our time. Really, I’m focused on their defense and what we need to do offensively to make good things happen.

Re: Drafting Chiefs WR Jon Baldwin in the first round and his development:
Again, I really haven’t seen the offense this year to really comment. I had him for one year and it was tough year for him. He had an injury but battled back and worked hard and made some big plays for us last year. To get picked where he got picked, we thought he was a heck of a player.

How disruptive of a player is DE Tamba Hali?
He’s really something. He is a warrior in every sense of the word. He’s a guy that does not stop. You cannot get out-tempoed by him. He can beat you with speed, quickness and power. He’s a relentless worker in the offseason, regular season and training camp. In between every period, he’s working on his craft non-stop, and it shows. He’s one of the elite outside backers in the league in my opinion and a player that you definitely have to pay attention to and handle as best you can or he can disrupt the game in a negative way fast.

Is it true that you only ran about a half dozen different runs against the Giants?
Yeah, and we didn’t really run many more passes. That doesn’t mean it’s not different formations or things like that. I’m a big believer in less is more and you get good at what you do. I think that’s been part of the process, us figuring out our identity in both facets, run and pass. I think that as you narrow it down, you do simplify in a sense in that you’re going to see different defenses, fronts and pressures. You’ve got to practice all the different looks. We don’t waste a lot of practice time. We focus in on what we’re going to do and guys get good at doing it and you have success.

What does it say about your team that you can run the ball when the other team knows it’s coming?
I think in the last few weeks and some of the situational football earlier in the year, even though we weren’t putting up gaudy numbers, in situations in games where we needed to, we were efficient running the football. I think that’s a good sign. I think one of the things when I first got here and I talked a little bit about what I believed. When you talk about what you want to do, you want to win the game. You want to score more points than the other team. In games, what separates average, good and great offenses are the ones that can throw it when they know you’re going to throw it and run it when they know you’re going to run it and do it efficiently. When you do that, you’ll be a pretty good offense. You don’t have to worry about numbers, statistics, anything like that. You’ll know it because generally you’ll be winning situations and winning games.

Coach Tomlin said this team and the schemes they run are similar to what Romeo Crennel ran in Cleveland. Is the Chiefs defense similar to how it was last year?
I think that’s probably a complete picture look that Coach [Tomlin] is looking at because so much of the offensive staff has some Cleveland Browns basis. There are some guys that were all together in Cleveland. Defensively, it’s generally the same crew and they’re running a very similar defense they ran in Cleveland that we ran the last three years I was there. I think that’s probably true but it looks like the Chiefs defense of the last couple years.

You tried to stop last year what you are running now. Any insight along the way?
Only watch one side of the ball. [Laughs]

How much of an advantage is it to have a former head coach going against the team he recently coached?
I think it works both ways. A lot of guys over there know me pretty well, too. From our perspective I think it’s a minor advantage. Like I said earlier, it’s more than anything just understanding the guys on the other side of the ball and their strengths and weaknesses. As an offensive staff, that’s what we try to do every week. We try to figure out where our best matchups are, run and pass. Having some real insight to a lot of the players on the defensive side of the ball, there is a slight advantage for me personally. They probably feel like they have an advantage too.

Is there anything you would have done differently to avoid the way things ended for you last year?
Really, I think I’ve moved on. I’m really happy to be a part of this great organization and really what is a tight-knit family. It’s a unique environment that I think is hard to find. I know the Chiefs have moved on and I have a lot of fond memories and am proud of things that were accomplished. I think we came a long way in three years from where we started. Like I said, I’ve got a lot of fond memories of a lot of my players from that time and think a lot of them.

Will there be any extra emotion at the end of the game?
No. I’m always excited if we win. I’m always depressed if we lose. I leave that to my wife to handle both of those emotions.

Are you proud of the diversity of your offense and is it easier to be diverse with the personnel you have here?
I just think it can lead to good offensive play. The more diverse you can be and still be playing within the parameters of what I spoke about and doing the things you do well. I think when you do have real good personnel in a lot of spots, it makes it a real good situation for you as a staff and as a team.

Is your family still holding on to how things ended in Kansas City?
No. [Laughs] I’m saying on a weekly basis, win or lose, my wife has to handle my excitement or depression, one or the other.

Is there anything the receivers can do to open up the deep pass?
If Mike [Wallace] could run slower for a couple of weeks then maybe they’d forget about him. No, there’s really not. I think every play generally has a downfield shot, an intermediate and a check down of one kind or another. Ben [Roethlisberger] has a done a terrific job to this point in the season of making real good reads for the most part and getting the ball to the open guy. I think it shows and when we’re playing successful that’s what he’s doing. He just needs to continue doing it and just getting a little better every week and we’ll be feeling pretty good.

Jonathan Dwyer said yesterday that Rashard Mendenhall is the starter when all three back are healthy. Is it that cut and dry? Or does the performance of Dwyer and RB Isaac Redman make that more difficult to determine?
I’ve always been a big believer in competition is a good thing. Right now, through circumstance, through injury, guys have had to step in and see more action than they’ve seen in the past. Isaac Redman and Dwyer have gone from situational backs to being starters for us in games and they’ve taken advantage of that opportunity, which in turn has created competition. I think any time a position on a football team, running back being no different than others, competition makes people better because they start competing with each other, not wanting to be outdone. And that’s a great thing. Like I said, through circumstance I think we’ve grown at that position a lot more now that we knew eight to ten weeks ago. There were some questions but some of those question marks have been eliminated. We’ve got a few more to clear up and that means guys are developing. So, competition is always a great thing.

 Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau

Kansas City likes to give the ball away but your defense hasn’t liked to take it away too much this year. Do you think something will give this week?
We like to take it away. We’re just not getting enough of them. We need to do better there. We have gotten a couple turnovers the last couple games to help our offense. We need to do more, that’s for sure.

Re: Defensive backs having their back to the ball and positioning playing a role in them being able to get interceptions:
That might be true to a certain extent. We’ve been playing some people that we wanted to challenge them and get up close. Our guys have been doing a good job of that and Ike [Taylor] did get a good pick and  had a good chance to have double pick game. But we still want interceptions. We don’t care whether we’re off or up or whatever. That’s what we’re working on.

Did you get some film out and show the defensive backs what you used to do?
I remind them sometimes. [Laughs]

Is it easier for the Chiefs to prepare for the Steelers because the Kansas City defense also runs a 3-4 scheme?
I don’t think there’s any question about that. That’s their in-house defense. They see that from training camp, they see it every snap, they know the 3-4. They know the pluses and the minuses and the plays to run. It’ll be us against them. It’s going to come down to that. It certainly won’t hurt them that their team plays a 3-4 defense. I think that’s accurate.

The pass defense is number one but the run defense is also improving in the last few games. What do you attribute to that?
Did you say we were number one against the pass? But we don’t have any interceptions. We must be doing something right. [Laughs] I had to throw that in there. The run defense has definitely picked up. The defense has picked up. We’ve got a ways to go but they’ve been working hard in practice this whole week. We said we needed to work and there’s a lot of football left to play. Right now we’re getting better and that’s what we need to do. We need to continue to improve and I think that’s true of all phases of our defense. And we definitely need to improve on our turnovers. You’re right.

Is the secondary stepping up and why is that?
I think we led the league in pass yards last year and these guys are young, some of them, and a lot of the corners are very young. We’re optimistic about the future. In the meanwhile, we’ve got to keep working every day to get a little bit better. It’s halfway through the year. You have to do something right, I will give them that for sure, to be number one halfway through in pass defense. We need to continue on that. It doesn’t mean anything. Really, all we’ve got to do is get a big win this Monday night.

How can you be so effective against the pass with S Troy Polamalu missing six games?
Well, we’re better when Troy’s in there. I’m looking forward to when he gets back. But the guys that have stepped in for him have done a great job.

Have you done anything to tweak the rush defense?
We try to stay current with our defense. If we’re having trouble in an area, we try to do things to maybe help them a little bit. We hope we can. If it’s going great we don’t mess with it. We try to reinforce strengths and eliminate our errors and we think we’ll be pretty good.

Are LB James Harrison and LB LaMarr Woodley starting to round into form after dealing with some injuries?
Not to make excuses, we had a lot of guys that had not had any offseason football at all, no coaching sessions and no training camp. Those guys are starting to get their football conditioning going and their football muscle going and I think that’s definitely a factor in our improvement. LaMarr and James Harrison are two big factors in that equation without a doubt. We’re looking forward to getting Troy back out there.

Are Chiefs WR Jon Baldwin and WR Dwayne Bowe similar styles of players?
I think that’s a fair statement. They’re big, strong receivers with tremendous ball-catching skill. That makes it difficult to defend because they’ve got one on each side of the formation. When you throw it up there, you can be in pretty good shape and they like their chances of coming down with it. They trust them and they do that quite a bit. They’re a challenge, no question about it, but they are similar types of receivers.

Did Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles hurt you more with catching passes and returning kicks last time you faced him?
He can hurt you in any of those phases. He’s a great runner. You just can’t let the guy get daylight because he’s gone. New Orleans was doing a great job and had a pretty good lead. Then, in two snaps he erased it. He went 90 yards with one and 50 yards with the next. It’s on video what he can do. You don’t have to tell our guys. They’ve seen it.

When you’re not getting a lot of sacks, what do you do to adjust and compensate for that?
I said earlier, we try to adjust our defense to what we’re seeing and the guys that we’ve got out there. Sometimes we do a better job at it than others. I wish we did better more often but we’re not going to sit there if we’re having trouble. We’re going to try a different combination of defenses, but nothing radical. The players have to deliver, and they’ve done that.

When a team turns the ball over as much as they do, is there anything you can do to take advantage of that and force more turnovers?
I don’t know about that. We coach every week to create the turnovers but they have video evidence that this team has some problems in the turnover area. Hopefully, that will spur us to be more aggressive at the football and knock it lose and get on it. We’ve done better in that in recent weeks and we certainly need to continue to improve there. These guys are NFL football players and I know their coaches are on them. So, they’re going to make those turnovers go away. I’m hoping they don’t make it go away until the next game after ours.

How were you able to convey the message to the defense about trusting each other when they were struggling to start the season?
We coach the same every day but we didn’t like the numbers we had. We wanted to make them go away and we’re doing better at that. The only way to make them better is to get out here on the practice field and execute and trust the defense. We have enough veteran players that they trust each other and they’re getting better. We’ve got a ways to go but they’re getting better.

How valuable is the continuity of the players?
I think it’s very valuable. We can do things that you couldn’t do with a young group. These guys you can talk to and say let’s take a look at this or take a look at that and they don’t need ten snaps on the practice field. They’re going out there and doing a pretty good job.

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History Center hosts NFL Play 60 Training Camp

Posted by Teresa Varley on November 8, 2012 – 4:15 pm

The Heinz History Center will host an NFL Play 60 Training Camp on Sunday, Nov. 11 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The event, which is sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods, will include five floors of football related activities. Some of the things visitors can participate in are a mini-NFL Combine, football-themed obstacle course, sports trivia, yoga and tai chi demonstrations and more.

Participants are also entered to win prizes, including a football signed by defensive end Brett Keisel.

Visitors can also enjoy the History Center’s Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit.

All NFL Play 60 activities are including with regular History Center admission tickets. Tickets can be purchased at www.showclix.com or by calling 1-888-71-TICKETS or on-site at the History Center box office during regular museum hours (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day).

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Steelers Practice Report – 11-8

Posted by Teresa Varley on November 8, 2012 – 4:04 pm

As expected three players didn’t practice on Thursday, including receiver Antonio Brown (ankle), safety Troy Polamalu (calf), and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring).

Tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) took part in a limited basis, while running backs Jonathan Dwyer (quadriceps) and Chris Rainey (rib) and kick Shaun Suisham (left ankle) were full participants.

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