View Full Version : Steelers defense preps for another inexperienced quarterback

12-07-2006, 12:16 AM
Steelers defense preps for another inexperienced quarterback

By Mike Prisuta
Thursday, December 7, 2006

Technically, Browns quarterback Derek Anderson isn't a rookie, but Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel considers the Cleveland fill-in as such.

"He hasn't played against us," Keisel said. "If you haven't played us, you're a rookie."

Anderson, a second-year pro and a former sixth-round pick of Baltimore in 2005 who was waived that September and claimed by Cleveland off waivers, hadn't played against anybody until last Sunday.

But when Charlie Frye was lost to what has been diagnosed as a bruised right wrist, Anderson stepped in and stunned Kansas City. In his first NFL action he wound up completing 12 of 21 passes for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns in erasing a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit, then scrambled 33 yards in overtime to set up the winning field goal in a 31-28, extra-session triumph.

That's the Steelers' point of reference leading into tonight's rematch with Cleveland at Heinz Field.

"I saw him play for a half," head coach Bill Cowher said of the Anderson video available for the Steelers' inspection.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu, who won't play tonight due to a knee injury, crossed paths with Anderson while playing high school football in Oregon.

"He was a wide receiver in high school," Polamalu said. "When he was a freshman, I think I was a junior. He was really athletic.

"He was just a freshman playing receiver in high school. I never really watched him too much. But he's in the NFL (now), and he's a starting quarterback."

Anderson follows Seton-LaSalle's Bruce Gradkowski into Heinz Field. The Buccaneers' rookie QB was sacked five times and intercepted three times in last Sunday's 20-3 Steelers' victory over Tampa Bay.

They'll attempt to do the same to Anderson as they did to Gradkowski, as they endeavor to do against all young/inexperienced/rookie quarterbacks.

"Of course," Keisel said. "Any time you have a rookie you want to get after him. He's never been here, never played here, doesn't know what it's like, isn't that familiar with our schemes and things like that.

"You gotta kinda pin your ears back a little bit."

The Browns hadn't officially named Anderson their starter as of Wednesday morning, but the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported yesterday that Frye had been wearing a plastic splint on his throwing hand and hadn't even picked up a football since exiting the Kansas City game.

The success of the Steelers' defense in giving Anderson fits and putting the clamps on the Cleveland offense may wind up dictating the game and deciding the Steelers' fate as it relates to their flickering postseason hopes.

The Steelers won't have starting wide receivers Hines Ward (knee) and Cedrick Wilson (ankle) available against the Browns, in addition to Polamalu and free safety Ryan Clark (groin).

They may have to turn tonight's encounter into a defensive struggle if they hope to live to fight another week, particularly if their running game sputters as it did against the Buccaneers.

"We know if we play well defensively we're going to be tough to beat," Keisel said. "If we hold teams to field goals and keep points off the board we're going to be a tough team to beat.

"As the game goes on we feel like our offense can move the ball. We just have to keep giving them the ball."