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Old 10-14-2006, 07:52 AM   #1
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Default Clark delivers hits in big way

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Do not blame some of the Steelers' defensive problems on the loss of two starters in free agency. At least one of the replacements has been better than advertised.

Ryan Clark, who replaced Chris Hope (Carolina) as the starter at free safety, has better speed than his predecessor and, surprisingly, has delivered more big hits than Hope.

Clark delivered a thundering hit on Cincinnati's Chris Henry two weeks ago that resulted in an interception by cornerback Ike Taylor. Last week, he slammed into Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson near the sideline, in addition to making a nice interception when he wrested the ball from wide receiver Eric Parker on San Diego's first possession.

"Hitting is an attitude," said Clark, who was signed in free agency from the Washington Redskins. "If you want to go in there and run as fast as you can, there's going to a be a good collision. I've been lucky to be in some good positions. The defense put me in position to make those hits."

Clark said he added 10 to 15 pounds this season after playing at 190 pounds with the Redskins, where he was paired with another big hitter, safety Sean Taylor. With the Steelers, his physical style could get overlooked because he plays alongside strong safety Troy Polamalu, a two-time Pro Bowl selection.

"When you play with guys like Sean Taylor, who does so many explosive things and big-time things, you start to get overlooked," Clark said. "But I like it that way."


Out of gas?


Among the more disturbing aspects of a three-game losing streak, at least to Bill Cowher, is this: the Steelers have been outscored, 26-3, in the fourth quarter of losses to Jacksonville, Cincinnati and San Diego.

The Steelers trailed, 3-0, after three quarters in Jacksonville, carried a 17-14 lead into the final quarter against the Bengals and trailed, 17-13, after three quarters in San Diego.

"The fourth quarter has kind of been our thing, where we won games," guard Alan Faneca said. "Our biggest problem has been our inconsistency, and over the time period of a game, that just starts to show itself more. It starts to become more evident as the game goes on."

"We haven't been able to finish," inside linebacker James Farrior said. "We haven't been able to sustain our focus for the whole 60 minutes, and it's come back to bite us right now. We're going to have to work on sustaining our focus and sustain what we've been doing in the first half of these games and carry it over to the second half."


Bell curve


Chad Brown won't be the only former Steelers linebacker making a return to Pittsburgh.

Kendrell Bell, a No. 2 draft pick in 2001, makes his first visit to Heinz Field since leaving the Steelers in free agency to sign with the Chiefs after the 2004 season.

Bell has only one sack and 14 tackles in four games this season, but he has started to look like his old self the past two games. Bell blew up a screen play two weeks ago in San Francisco when he jetted into the backfield, then made a similar play to sack Arizona's Matt Leinart last week.

"He looks different than when he was here," left tackle Marvel Smith said. "When he was here, he was always blitzing, penetrating, causing havoc. It kind of seems they got him playing more within the scheme."


Snakes are his game


Brown is in his 14th NFL season, something of a surprise to people who regard him as a bright, introspective person who had already developed an exotic-pet business for when he retired from football.

Brown, 36, still has the business -- Pro Exotics, based in Denver -- and has expanded into other stores and online.

"Business is very good," Brown said. "We built a new facility in Colorado and have had a lot of fun with it. It's kind of morphed into a couple other business, as well. It's been a fantastic experience. I've learned a lot about reptiles, but also learned a lot about business that will last the rest of my life."

It is not known how much Brown will play against the Chiefs, though it is likely he will appear in some third-down situations as a pass-rush linebacker. He was signed to a one-year contract two days ago because of injuries that will keep outside linebackers Joey Porter (hamstring) and James Harrison (ankle) from playing.

"I've seen the game from a lot of different angles now, a lot of different styles, so perhaps I can add something to that," Brown said. "Perhaps I can help some of the young linebackers [learn] how to be a professional, how to take care of their body, how this game is so special.

"You only get to play this game for a short period of time. While you can play it, you have to put all you can into it because, when it's over, it's over. You never, ever get to play football again."
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Old 10-14-2006, 09:29 AM   #2
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Default Re: Clark delivers hits in big way

nice read, clark has made some plays this year but im still very dissapointed that we got rid of hope....that sounds funny. but hope is 4th in tackles and has an interception. so far he is still the better safety.
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Old 10-14-2006, 09:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Clark delivers hits in big way

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Originally Posted by 19ward86 View Post
nice read, clark has made some plays this year but im still very dissapointed that we got rid of hope....that sounds funny. but hope is 4th in tackles and has an interception. so far he is still the better safety.
Looking back on the games so far...it seems VERY apparant to me that Townsend has been the week link in our secondary this year...Clark has looked strong and seems to be a good replacement for Hope...But Deshea has allowed 4 TD's that I am aware of.
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Old 10-14-2006, 11:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Clark delivers hits in big way

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Originally Posted by lamberts-lost-tooth View Post
Looking back on the games so far...it seems VERY apparant to me that Townsend has been the week link in our secondary this year...Clark has looked strong and seems to be a good replacement for Hope...But Deshea has allowed 4 TD's that I am aware of.
I had thought Townsend was a weak link going into the season and thought McFadden would beat Townsend out for a starting CB spot this year - hopefully we will not find out tomorrow why that has not happened.

I agree Clark has been an apparent plus as a FA signing and atttribute Troy's terrible (for an All-Pro) year to date to injury and not to Clark failing to get Troy in the comfort zone he had with Hope.
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