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Old 08-12-2007, 11:15 PM   #1
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Default Steelers have a 'special' problem

Steelers seek solution for shaky special teams
By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, August 13, 2007

It has taken two preseason games for the Steelers to expose and "compound" what coach Mike Tomlin has identified as a "glaring problem" in their kicking game.

Imagine where they might be had they not practiced special teams every day in training camp.

The intensity will be turned up yet another notch this week in the wake of kicker Jeff Reed having his only extra-point attempt blocked in Saturday night's 13-9 preseason loss to Green Bay.

The Steelers had a successful 29-yard Reed field goal negated by a holding penalty against tight end Jon Dekker, who lined up as one of the wings on the field goal/PAT team, in their 20-7 victory over New Orleans in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 5. Reed converted the 39-yard re-kick.

Reed was also pressured from the outside on a 42-yard attempt against the Saints, but said that didn't contribute to his miss.

Substandard field goal/PAT protection made "The News" that Tomlin delivered to his team following the New Orleans game.

"We showed a glaring weakness from that standpoint last week," Tomlin said Saturday night. "We talked about it last week that when you show signs of weakness like that in the kicking game people are going to come after you.

"The problem has been compounded. Great. We're going to have to respond to adversity. We're going to have to go back to work this week, and the secret is there is no secret. We're going to put our pads on. We're going to practice field goals and we're going to practice blocking field goals, and that's what I told the football team."

In addition to a daily emphasis on the kicking game during afternoon workouts at St. Vincent College, the Steelers have devoted a series of one-hour morning practices to special teams.

They have practiced just about everything imaginable, from returns and coverage to one-on-one techniques to various forms of special teams trickery.

They have worked with volleyballs, Nerf balls and orange hoops placed on the ground to identify rush lanes.

They have worked with footballs attached to sticks to simulate snaps. And they have worked with two special teams coaches, Bob Ligashesky and Amos Jones, for the first time in franchise history.

But there's at least one thing they haven't done.

"We haven't had any type of deals where we go full contact with that in practice," said defensive end Brett Keisel, one of the first-team wings on the field goal/PAT unit.

That changes this week, either today or, as Reed assumed, on Tuesday.

"It'll probably be in all week," Reed said. "Hopefully, nobody gets hurt, but I guess you have to do what you have to do to get ready for the season."

Reed was ready to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter against the Packers when Green Bay defensive end Michael Montgomery shot between long-snapper Greg Warren and right guard Chris Kemoeatu.

Reed saw only "a big dude right in my face."

"It was probably just a blown assignment," he said. "I know I got the ball up on that one; it felt good. It's one of those things. Whoever it was, he was probably three yards from me when he blocked it."

Players have grumbled about the Steelers' newfound obsession with special teams, publicly in the spring and privately in camp, and have suggested the efforts might be at least partially misdirected.

Now, they'll go live until Tomlin is satisfied.

"We shouldn't have a wrinkle in teams anywhere because we do spend more time than ever on it," Keisel said. "Right now our technique's not there. Guys gotta know they gotta get down lower or they're gonna get put on their back."

Keisel offered a potentially humorous solution.

"I think we should just go for two every time," he said.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_521882.html
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Old 08-13-2007, 07:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers have a 'special' problem

Seems as if there is still an undercurrent of discontent with the new regime.

Getting PAT attempts blocked does not constitute a ringing endorsement of whatever has changed with regard to special teams training.
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Old 08-13-2007, 08:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers have a 'special' problem

there needs to be more emphasis on special teams. last years special teams play was terrible.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers have a 'special' problem

The kick coverage has been better so far. That was the worst part of last years ST aside from the fumbles by Colclough, Holmes.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers have a 'special' problem

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Originally Posted by zoneblitz43 View Post
there needs to be more emphasis on special teams.
That's what makes this problem all the more alarming in my opinion. Tomlin has been stressing and practicing ST's since day one at Latrobe. The emphasis is there, but it's not clicking.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:13 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers have a 'special' problem

Maybe they are working on a some type of new ST system and its taking awhile for everyone to get their assignments down?

Getting an XP blocked is pretty bad, a reserve O-line guy like Chris Kemoeatu should be doing everything in his power to make the step up to the first team.

I think ST can be a real window into the mentality of a team, it relies on so much teamwork.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers have a 'special' problem

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That's what makes this problem all the more alarming in my opinion. Tomlin has been stressing and practicing ST's since day one at Latrobe. The emphasis is there, but it's not clicking.
I'm not too concerned about it yet. I'm just thinking how mediocre our STs have been for so long now and figure that Rome wasn't built in a day.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers have a 'special' problem

One blocked extra point and the sky is falling......

The kick coverage units look better...I know its just pre-season but that area does looked to be improved......Hell Sepulveda the minute he was drafted was an upgrade.......He should kick off to since Reed sucks at kickoffs.lol

I'm not get to bent out of shape about a blocked extra point in the pre-season...Its pre-season...who cares.lol This is the time to have extra points blocked....I'm sure Tomlin will do what he has to to correct that problem....
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:23 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers have a 'special' problem

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I'm not too concerned about it yet. I'm just thinking how mediocre our STs have been for so long now and figure that Rome wasn't built in a day.
While I understand it's early and that it's not the end of the world....yet, I remember thinking/talking about the same thing last season. Next thing you know, we were watching Colclough and Holmes fumble balls, Reed not looking all that great outside the 45 and teams starting out on our 40+.

It can kill you and it does concern me to a degree. Eh, I figured since many were praising Ben's play to no end after only two preseason games, concern with Willie resting his knee, Timmons being a bust and a foam mascot that has absolutely nothing to do with what happens on the field, it would be fine to point out a special teams problem that hurt us all season last year.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers have a 'special' problem

I assume they will get blocking on the PAT straightened out - how hard can it be?

I find it more noteworthy that the players are griping about the emphasis on ST practice.

Since it is not your Pro Bowl players that are on ST, it seems to me that this team, on all levels, is still not all on board with Tomlin. This might result in some surprising cuts among the marginal vets, since Tomlin presumably knows who is griping.
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