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Old 01-02-2009, 10:32 PM   #1
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Default Steelers wait and watch for next opponent

Steelers wait and watch for next opponent
By John Harris
Friday, January 2, 2009

Preparing for their first playoff bye week since the 2004 season, the Steelers are taking no chances.

The Steelers practiced two days this week (Tuesday and Wednesday) and showed up to practice Thursday before it was cut short and players were given the weekend off. When they resume their regular practice schedule Monday, they expect to be rested and focused on winning their first home playoff game in four years.

Practicing without a game plan for their Jan. 11 divisional playoff game at Heinz Field, coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers focused on improving "individually and collectively" as they await their opponent.

"Identify minute details, areas in which we can improve, specifically some things we're doing positionally and technically," Tomlin said. "That's why we've structured the practices the way we've done it. I think that's the only way to do it, and that's the way we're approaching it.

"We're unable to develop a game plan at this point because we don't know who our opponent is. We need to sharpen our swords for the battles that await us and (understand) that we're capable of getting better even at this juncture of the season."

Inside linebacker Larry Foote said Tomlin livened up the practices by creating an intense working environment featuring situational play, such as passing under pressure and converting on third down.

"Mike Tomlin made it competitive," Foote said. "We worked on stuff that was hurting us a little bit. We went back to the drawing board and tried to correct some things. Mentally, we can all relax a little bit and still get ready for next week."

After earning a bye in the 2004 season, the Steelers advanced to the AFC championship game against New England.

Following the 2005 regular season, the Steelers was as the No. 6 seed and won their first three playoff games on the road before defeating Seattle in Super Bowl XL.

Last season, the Steelers were the No. 4 seed and lost to Jacksonville in a wild-card game at Heinz Field.

This season, the Steelers are the No. 2 seed. Top-seed Tennessee, which defeated the Steelers two weeks ago, is following a similar schedule.

Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said the Titans will practice today concentrating on red-zone offense and third-down defense before taking the weekend off.

The Steelers will play one of three teams from the wild-card round: Miami, Indianapolis or San Diego. The Steelers have faced two of those teams this season, losing to the Colts, 24-20, on Nov. 9 and defeating the Chargers, 11-10, on Nov. 16. Both games were played at Heinz Field. The Steelers defeated Miami, 3-0, last season, in a game also played at Heinz Field.

"We have a luxury of where we've pretty much seen everybody that we're potentially going to (play), whether this season or last," Tomlin said. "We're pretty much familiar with their personnel, so there will be very few surprises when we find out who we play."

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 01-03-2009, 06:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers wait and watch for next opponent

Let the fun begin today it is crunch time.
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Old 01-03-2009, 07:22 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers wait and watch for next opponent

Focus hard, practice hard, don't get injured and get ready to play some Steelers football on January 11th!

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Old 01-03-2009, 05:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers wait and watch for next opponent

I just want the titans.
''If you are ashamed to stand by your colors,you had better seek another flag''.
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers wait and watch for next opponent

Can't wait to find out who we play next Sunday. I would love to face the Colts again. It would be great to see the NFL MVP get knocked out of the playoffs.
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