Not many teams have the luxury of one Hall of Famer at practice, but the Steelers have three of them there on a daily basis in camp, including Dan Rooney, Dick LeBeau and Rod Woodson, who is doing a coaching internship during camp.
Woodson and LeBeau took a minute to smile for our cameras today.
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Steelers’ defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is the latest to be honored as a “Hometown Hall of Famer” by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The program is done in conjunction with Allstate Insurance, recognizing Hall of Famers in the place where they got their start.
LeBeau is being honored at London High School in Ohio, with a plaque dedication and ceremony at the school. LeBeau’s family and friends, and even some former teammates will be on hand, and he will also speak to the students. In addition the area will install a sign on the highway recognizing London, Ohio as LeBeau’s hometown.
LeBeau was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2010 for his playing career that spanned 14 seasons with the Detroit Lions. LeBeau had 62 career interceptions in 185 games played.
Others who have been previously been honored as “Hometown Hall of Famers” include Art Rooney Sr., John Stallworth and Rod Woodson.
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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.
Tags: Dick LeBeau, Todd Heley
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Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
What do you like about RB Jonathan Dwyer?
I like that he got 122 yards last week. I think he’s a big back that is pretty nifty with his feet and he’s shown that all through the preseason. We got down a little bit on the fumble early and when we knew he was going to play last week that was kind of mine and Coach Tomlin’s conversation. Let’s not forget we were pretty excited about this guy. It was just good to see him bounce back and take advantage of his opportunity.
Do you notice Dwyer gaining confidence?
They are still young guys that haven’t had a lot of NFL carries between all of them but Rashard [Mendenhall]. Any carry they get in a game is an experience they’re building and confidence that they’re gaining. I think when you get it handed to you a handful of times like that he was able to build on each carry and he got stronger as the game went on. That’s what you like to see from big backs, especially.
What do you see in the Redskins defense?
They’ve changed up a little. I used to see them a bunch but they’ve changed up a little bit with Coach [Jim] Haslett. They’re a well-coached group that gives you a lot to deal with. I said to our guys that we know we were having to do a lot more research that a long Tuesday was even longer than normal. That means there’s a lot of looks and blitzes and coverages that you’re trying to sort through and figure out and that makes it a difficult week. They’re active, they’re aggressive, they’re obviously playmakers because the ball seems to end up in their hands a bunch and they do a great job stopping the run. We’ve got our work cut out for us as an offense. We’ve got to come out and play one of our best games.
Has the running back situation sorted itself out at all this week?
I think we’re still kind of in a wait and see mode as far as who’s going to be available and who’s not. Because of how we went into this year, that’s kind of the mode we’ve been in and it’s served us well as far as getting ready for a week like this because nobody blinks now. We’ve been doing it a few months and whoever’s up is up. And, like last week, the guys that were up came in and did a commendable job at what they had to do and we’ve just got to have that continue.
Do you get a kick out of the stories that report there are problems between you and QB Ben Roethlisberger?
In three years of being a head coach I’ve learned to insulate a little bit. I get texts and things and the most important thing to me is what’s happening out here and what’s happening on Sunday and that we’re getting better. Ben is doing a terrific job of leading this offense. The great thing is he can continue to get better along with everybody else and we’ll be cooking with gas, so to speak.
Has Ben taken a lot fewer hits at this point in the season than he had at this time last year?
I watched the tape and that’s something that is at the top of the priority list. He’s the leader of this team and we need to make sure that he’s protected as much as we can protect him. He’s done a really good job with running the offense. Teams know what we’re about and if they’re taking away the deep stuff, he’s done a great job of finding the guys that are open on each and every pass play. We’ve got a bunch of guys that can run with it after the catch at all positions. When it’s been there, he’s taken shots and we’ve made some big plays. Like I’ve said all along, I’m not worried about the big plays. I think when they’re there we’ll get them and hopefully we’re at a high percentage of getting them when they’re there for us. At the same time, the quarterback has to make the decisions each and every play and he’s done a terrific job of that.
Was Sunday’s game what you want to see out of Willie Colon at the guard position?
With Willie, it was going to be a learning curve going inside for the first time. We knew that each and every game he was in there and each and every practice he was going to continue to get experience and get more and more comfortable. I thought that there were some great examples of him getting more and more comfortable with his job in there and he was a big part of us being able to do a lot of things we did.
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
Re: Play of RGIII:
He’s doing pretty well up here in the NFL. He’s going to be quite the challenge. He’s a great athlete. He can run. He’s a much better passer than those running-type quarterbacks. We will have our hands full but we are looking forward to the challenge.
Re: The stat that you are 13-1 against rookie quarterbacks since 2004:
I’ve never paid any attention to it. I didn’t even know that. Somebody told me that the other day. The only comment I have is that I hope I am 14-1.
Do you have a spy on him?
I think you have to respect his athletic ability and his ability to run. He makes a lot of plays in that manner. He makes a lot of plays on designed runs. We have to know where number 10 [Griffin III] is. They have a guy that wears number 46 [Alfred Morris]. He is leading their conference and is second in the league in rushing. You don’t want to turn your back on that guy because you were looking at Griffin III the whole time. That’s one of the reasons they have such a potent offense. They have more than one guy. They have a cast of characters around those two that are really strong. They are a good offense, no question about that. I think they are number-five in the league.
How do you prepare for RGIII’s passing?
We are going to try to get everything communicated and be where we are supposed to be, see what we are supposed to see and play good, hard and clean football. We have to chase the ball down, because it’s going to get out every now and then. We have to chase them down and tackle them. We have to play good, consistent defense. That’s what we are going to do.
Can a quarterback like him create space because of his running ability?
I think so. I think that’s one thing we have to guard against. We can’t get mesmerized by the stuff he might do and let the basic play that Morris does. He’s a tremendous runner and gets room to run. Let’s face it, as good as Griffin III is, number 46 is going to have the ball more than him. The simple fact is you have to defend both of them, as well as anyone else they give the ball to. Number 36, Darrel Young, the fullback, gets the ball on occasion. That’s another step of deception. They have two top rushers and this guy comes in there with a pretty healthy yards per carry average as well. What we have to do is not any different than what we have to do every week. We have to be on our keys, get communicated and lined up and play good defense.
Do you attack to avoid being mesmerized, or do you wait it out and react?
Yes, that’s what you do. [Laughs] Didn’t you ever hear that answer before? Someone says, “Is it black or is it white?” You say, yes, that’s what it is. That is what we are doing.
Re: James Harrison’s return:
I think he is getting better every week. I think he will tell you that. He is never bad. He missed a lot of football. He missed all the coaching sessions at training camp. He is not the only guy on defense that has done that. Jason Worilds didn’t get any of those snaps either. Those two guys, you can just see them getting stronger every day. That’s a tremendous help for the defense.
Have you seen a guy like RGIII?
I think he is very rare. I think his numbers indicate that, with what he was able to do at a major university. What I find kind of interesting is that there are five of those rookies starting in the NFL. They are all very productive and good football players right away. I think it’s a testament to the style of offense that the colleges are running now and the type of athlete that is playing quarterback and getting those snaps and open-field looks. It’s not such a transition for them to come into the pros. I think these guys have proved that the younger guys can play quicker and be productive quicker. He’s probably as good as anyone I’ve seen with the combination of running and passing. Michael Vick was tremendous. I don’t know if you can say he is better than Vick but you are talking about the cream of the crop here.
Does their style of offense make you go back and look at old notes?
Fortunately, we are far enough in the season that we already got a good look at that part of it. Their head coach is a genius. He is never going to show you the same thing two weeks in a row. He is going to do it differently. He is still going to run the same plays. The formations may be different and the people may be different, but the plays you have to stop are going to be repeating. We do have that. I am glad we aren’t playing them in the first game. We have some idea of what they are going to do but we don’t know what they are going to do it from. We have to be on our keys and have everybody on the same page. We have to play hard. We have to do that every week no matter what.
With their potential options in the backfield, do you have more keys and is it a tougher prep process?
Fortunately, on defense, we shouldn’t be looking in the backfield that much. Your keys aren’t going to change from week-to-week. Your gap responsibility is not going to change from week-to-week. What you have to look at to get to where you want to get is not going to change. What changes is when you have to face a quarterback that is a world-class athlete. He can keep the ball and outrun some of your defense. That’s something that you have to give them credit for. You have to chase the ball down and tackle, and get up and play the next down. We don’t have to look in the backfield. If we do, we are going to be in trouble.
So why do they do all that hocus pocus in the backfield?
Every player doesn’t do what their coach tells them to do. You look in the backfield and they get lost.
Has the trap game in the NFL gone away?
That was there formula. They drafted for that formula, and that was their philosophy. But the trap has never left the game. The old Steelers, that was the core of their offense. Everything went around play action, and the dive plays coming off that trap action. They drafted guards that were real athletic and their centers were always great. They could hold down and block back so the guards could go out. Then it was all by scheme. Coach Chuck Noll had worked on that for a long time, and he got the people that he wanted. We all know that it was successful. It’s more of a passing league now but the trap itself is not gone. It will never be gone. People have even got more exotic with the trap game, using the tackles now. That’s a different looking play. It shows up every couple of weeks for us to defend. It’s not to the frequency that the old Steelers ran but I don’t think the trap will ever be gone.
Are linemen too big now?
Typically, teams will pull their most athletic linemen. I think they are looking for other things first when they draft that lineman. But they are never going to completely leave that trap play because it is a good counter to a hard rushing defensive player.
Who is the best pulling guard you’ve ever seen?
I would have to say Jim Parker, because he is an Ohio State guy. He is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so he wasn’t too bad.
Tags: Dick LeBeau, Todd Haley
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Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
Re: Rashard Mendenhall being back:
I think, first of all, it’s a testament to him and to Kirby [Wilson] having him both mentally and physically ready to go. When everybody felt like it was the right time for him to be back, he stepped in and it was really a seamless transition. In addition, I think he’s a difference maker type of player and the more of those you have the better. Last week, he was difference maker.
Re: Thoughts on running back by committee:
I’ve always asked the running backs coach. They’re the guys that are with those guys all the time. Kirby has a great feel for where guys are within a game, both physically and mentally. Are they on a roll or not? He does a very good job of having them in there at the right time. There might be special plays or situations that during the week we talked about having a specific guy but, other than that, I’m going to lean to Kirby and he does a great job with it.
What do you see when you look at the Titans defense?
I think they’ve played some pretty good competition and even last week, with a team like Minnesota, a team that maybe they didn’t think a lot of prior to the last few games, but they’re showing up as a pretty good team that is scoring some points. I think they’re a young team that’s working hard to get better every week and you’re seeing progress every week. But, they’ve also run into some pretty stiff competition and they had a big win against a pretty good Detroit team who has had a good offense the last couple years. They’re like all of us. We’re just trying to get better every week and make progress.
What does Weslye Saunders give the team at tight end?
I think that will kind of be up to him. He’s been out of the mix here for a little while. We’ve had some guys who are here and working and are finding their roles, so to speak. This is a little tougher week to do it. We’re not in pads but he’s going to have to come get in the mix, start competing, and like everybody else across the board, the guys that give us the best chance to win each and every week, those will be the guys helping us. He’s just trying to get back in the flow right now.
Re: David Paulson getting more snaps than Leonard Pope last game:
I think, again, much like running backs, Coach Daniel has a good feel for those guys. There are plays and situations, packages that certain guys will be in. It just so happened that last week, the package we were in had David and Heath in it.
How did the wide receivers do against the press coverage last game?
They did a pretty good job getting open. There were some physical battles out there. I’ve learned not to just look at their size and that it’s a smaller receiver. They all play bigger than their size and they did a good job of winning. There were some situations where we have to make the play in those situations and maybe it wouldn’t have come down to being such a close game. We won the game. They made plays to win, especially down the stretch. The big play on third down by Ben and [Antonio Brown] and then Ben and Emmanuel were huge conversions for us on that final drive. They did a lot of good things but, just like the rest of the group, we’re trying to work to get better every week.
Were you surprised with fans cheering when Chiefs’ QB Matt Cassel got hurt?
I didn’t hear about it. I’m in Pittsburgh. I’m worried about the Steelers offense.
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
Re: The Titans offense spreading the field and using different formations:
They have done that quite a bit. They mix their personnel. Even with the younger quarterback, they had quite a bit of four wide receivers, three wide receivers and a tight end like a wide receiver spread out, and they would go back and forth. You’d see that on first and second down quite a bit, then you would get back to regular one tight end, two tight ends, and feeding their great tailback the ball. They can do both and do it.
Have the Titans changed how they use RB Chris Johnson?
No, I don’t think so. Their head coach was their offensive line coach. I don’t think they’re going to change that. They’ve had a lot of success with what they’re doing.
Re: CB Keenan Lewis performance:
Keenan is a young player and he’s early in his growth cycle and we’re looking for him to continue to grow. I thought he played well last year for us. So far, he’s doing okay. We’re just looking for all of those young players to grow and looking for our veterans to lead and stabilize the situation here.
How did the defense execute against the Eagles?
I think they definitely played better. I don’t know whether I did anything better but we have to get better. I know that. We kept the point total down where our guys had a chance to win at the end. We should have got off the field on that last drive and let our guys sit on the ball at the end of the game. We’ve got some work to do but I think we made some progress.
Re: Losing S Troy Polamalu again to injury:
We went through the last several years where we’ve had a rotation of Woodley, Harrison and Troy missing some games. I think if you look at the National Football League, every team goes through that to a degree. They seem to be hitting us in those particular three guys who, last time I looked, aren’t too bad of defenders. I think we had Troy about half of a quarter. The three of them were together about half a quarter and then LaMarr went out during the next quarter and we were back to business as usual. Our guys did a great job of focusing and playing and keeping the game in touch so our guys could win at the end.
Re: LB Jason Worilds’ performance:
I thought he played well. Jason played pretty well last year. He grew tremendously. He missed so much football with that injury and that’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the way it is. I thought that he looked closer to what he was last year last week. Again, some of those young guys we’re looking to grow and to continue to contribute. I thought Jason played a good football game last week.
Re: Will Allen playing more at safety:
I’ve always looked at those two safeties, Will and Ryan Mundy, as the same person, two veteran safeties that can go in there and play either safety. Really, a large degree of our success in recent years has come from those two guys having the depth and providing quality depth for us. Ryan Clark has missed some games, Troy has missed some games, and those two guys have stepped in there and I look at them both as the same player. We’ll readily use both. We will need them both.
Re: Mundy usually getting the majority of the playing time:
I’ve always told them we’d play them both but we haven’t really played Will that much. Will deserves a chance to play some, too. But, we’ll play them both and we’ll need them both.
Will you have Allen and Mundy spell each other and rotate at safety?
Well, we’ve done that with several other people at several other positions. I believe we can.
What do you make of the Titans offense?
They have great skill people. The young quarterback was doing fine but I’m not sure their veteran quarterback isn’t better for any team, especially this guy with the experience he’s got. You have to look at who they’ve played. They’ve played four great opponents. They’ve had a tough schedule and they’ve been close, tough games for the most part. A couple of them later in the game got opened up a little bit but like every team in the NFL, their football, if it’s not winning, is always better than its record. This team definitely is better than that record.
Do you have to prepare more for offenses going for it on fourth down?
I think the game and the situations dictate that. Fourth down has always been a down where it’s like a turnover if you can get off the field if they’re going for it. I expect us to win our share of those types of battles. I don’t think that’s any different than it ever has been. People, when they need the ball and need points, they’ll go for it, no matter what it is.
Is there a common factor in the games where Chris Johnson has struggled?
I think there is. They get a little bit behind and they have to throw the ball and he doesn’t get that many touches. I think he’s a great back. He’s a home run hitter and I think if he gets the ball a significant amount of times, he’s going to make some yards. Just some of the games, the way they’ve gone, he hasn’t had that many touches. They’ve had to get the ball to him on screens and draws and stuff like that when they’re throwing the ball. I do see a difference.
How is the defense different when James Harrison is on the field?
He was the Defensive Player of the Year a couple years ago and he’s always been one of our leaders. He’s just a solid, strong player. The more of those types of guys you have out there, the smarter the defensive coordinator looks.
Tags: Dick LeBeau, Todd Haley
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Safety Ryan Clark doesn’t know who will play and who won’t because of injuries on Sunday night, but one thing he does know is defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will make things work no matter who is on the field.
“Coach LeBeau is tricky,” said Clark. “Coach LeBeau understands football, he understands match-ups. He knows if we have to switch things around to find people who can make plays, we are going to do that. We have every confidence in him that he will. That is the comfort you have in having a legend and a Hall of Famer as your coordinator.”
To read what Clark had to say about his recent fine, read previous post below.
Tags: Dick LeBeau, Ryan Clark
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Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau talked to the media after practice on Thursday. Here are a few of his comments.
Has defense become a means of survival in the AFC North?
I think right now you can say that the defenses in the AFC North are playing very well and I think that is just a fact from the numbers. I guess it is just the way it is this year. Everybody is playing pretty good.
How are you going to handle all of these star players going down? They keep saying Coach LeBeau will figure it out. Actually, we had quite a few guys out last week. When LaMarr (Woodley) went down, James Farrior was already out, and James Harrison was out, so that is pretty much the situation, worse case here. All we can do is give them some different practice scenarios, and let them get as comfortable as they can get in the roles that they may be playing. The rest of it is up to them. I think I have equal or more confidence in them than they have me. I think they can figure it out and compete.
From a coaching point of view is it easier to just go to the next guy on the depth chart and say give it a shot or do you have to be a little more drastic in a scenario like this and do some more four-three?
I think you have to be a little more careful of what you are asking the people out there to do. But we have plans B and C from training camp. Invariably at some place in the season you are going to need them. Unfortunately in this season we have needed them just about every week. But these things we try to rehearse when we have the time at training camp to practice some different scenarios, so we have a plan if this happens or that happens. These guys have been through this but it is a little different going out under full-scale fire and playing it. So they have really done a great job and we’ve got a big challenge, we’ve still got some guys missing.
Tags: Dick LeBeau, James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley
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