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83-Steelers-43
09-09-2006, 11:53 PM
Special teams seeks to end struggles

By John Grupp
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, September 10, 2006


They are the mistakes that turn field position into fraught position.

The Steelers' special-teams miscues carried over from the preseason into the regular-season opener, leaving only the promise of improvement.

"We've always had great special teams," punt returner Ricardo Colclough said before Thursday's 28-17 season-opening win over the Miami Dolphins. "We had a missed assignment here and missed assignment there. We just can't quite break it. We're trying back there, and hopefully, this year, we can get the kick returning going."

While the Steelers prevailed Thursday, the return teams had little to do with the victory. The Steelers averaged 1.7 yards on three punt returns and 25 yards on three kickoff returns.

Prior to the Miami game, special teams coach Kevin Spencer said the unit would develop more continuity. Since last season, he lost Antwaan Randle El (sixth in the NFL in punt returns last year) to free agency and Quincy Morgan (eighth in kickoff returns) to a roster cut.

"We just used a combination of a lot of different guys -- and I'm not trying to make excuses -- but what do you do?" he said. "Do you keep your front-line guys in there and get good at it, or do you take the time to evaluate people?

"The bottom line is that, now that we have our group and our corps, we have to hope we can pick up where we left off last year and even do a little bit better."

Colclough and rookie Santonio Holmes returned kickoffs and punts against the Dolphins. Rookie Willie Reid, whom coach Bill Cowher hinted would handle punt returns, was inactive.

"Once we get going, we'll be OK," Colclough said.

The talent is there. Colclough was the all-time leading punt and kickoff returner at Division II Tusculum College. Reid broke Deion Sanders' punt-return yardage records at Florida State. Holmes averaged more yards per punt return than Ted Ginn Jr. at Ohio State last year.

Spencer, the 2003 NFL special teams coach of the year, said the preseason was more trial and error, albeit with more blunders than breakouts.

Only one team in the NFL -- the Cincinnati Bengals -- fared worse than the Steelers' 19.3-yard average on kickoff returns in the preseason. The Steelers ranked 12th in punt returns in the preseason at 9.2 yards per return.

"I don't have any doubt about our personnel," Spencer said. "I believe in our guys. I'm excited about our returners. We just have to go out and play. We just have to work together as a group. I think the production will be there and be forthcoming."

It couldn't get much worse than the Dolphins.

Colclough bobbled a punt return and gained 3 yards in the first quarter. Holmes was next to give it a try. He fielded a punt at the Steelers' 4, slipped and was tackled at the 6. Later, a 62-yard punt return by Colclough was nullified by James Harrison's holding penalty.

"We'll see what happens," said Brett Keisel, a first-year starter on the defensive line who is keeping his spot on the kickoff return unit. "I have nothing but love for special teams. Special teams is really the only reason I got a shot in this league."

Spencer believes the mistakes will correct themselves.

"I'm excited about it," Spencer said. "You've got kids like Willie Reid and Santonio Holmes and Ricardo. How can you not be excited about what those kids can do? Randle El was a puppy once, too.

"So, now we have puppies again, and they will turn out to be real good football players for us."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_469866.html

tony hipchest
09-10-2006, 12:00 AM
i gotta say the coach knows best. i wont worry until its time to worry

pittsburgh$teelersfan
09-10-2006, 12:29 AM
:shout: I sure hopes the struggle stops.

WV-SteelerFan
09-10-2006, 12:52 AM
I'm not worried, I'd just like to know why they released Chidi Iwuoma & kept Sean Morey.

jaysta
09-10-2006, 01:00 AM
Special teams will work it out as the season goes on. Even if they don't give us great field position, the way our offense moves the ball it'll be fun to watch them drive down the field and score.

HometownGal
09-10-2006, 06:53 AM
I fully agree, while watching the game, I just kept thinking Chidi makes that tackle. And where was Sean, catching up from behind while Welker jets down the sideline. I hope we get Chidi back. Has he cleared waivers yet? Anyone know?

I would think he would have cleared waivers by now, NC. He was a beast on STs - the Steelers need him on that unit.

This sums it up in a nutshell. With a little patience and a little time, they'll overcome their mistakes - I have no doubt about it.

"You've got kids like Willie Reid and Santonio Holmes and Ricardo. How can you not be excited about what those kids can do? Randle El was a puppy once, too.

"So, now we have puppies again, and they will turn out to be real good football players for us."

Midnightwriter07
09-10-2006, 08:57 AM
well they better get it straightened out cause it looked pathetic.. not only on our own returns but covering them as well. It was painful to watch and i would think with all the speed we have and having all summer to work on it ... that it would have looked better than it did. I cant say whom i would use for sure cause i havnt seen Reid alot on them.. but i hope they get it figured out by next week.

BlackNGold203
09-10-2006, 09:22 AM
New personnel...they will gel....patience here folks....

They will break down the film and will be practicing hard this week...

They will be MUCH improved against the Jagoffs.....:cool: :cool:

19ward86
09-10-2006, 09:52 AM
I'm not worried, I'd just like to know why they released Chidi Iwuoma & kept Sean Morey.

because they both sucked. ,morey was a better tackler than a returner and he is probably a horrible tackle. they just need to put reid in and maybe switch it up to let hollmes do it all, he had a great game on thursday, 25 yds per return.