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Old 08-25-2009, 12:19 AM   #1
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Default Bires: On the Steelers Beat

Bires: On the Steelers Beat
By Mike Bires
Times Sports Staff

Through the first two preseason games, the Steelers have been penalized 20 times for 159 yards. There are some who believe that high number of infractions is because Mike Tomlin ran an easy training camp.

Thatís just not the case.

Granted, Tomlinís third camp wasnít as demanding as his first two but in the summer of 2007 he was a first-year coach laying down the law. Now, heís coaching a team with a solid nucleus that knows him and knows how to win.

Yes, Tomlin gave a lot of the veterans a day off here and there (Hines Ward actually got a lot of time off), but in this day and age when players basically train year-round, the days of brutal training camps of generations past are gone.

With the exception of Casey Hampton, who has never looked like heís in great shape, virtually all the starters reported in good physical condition.

Of all the penalties the Steelers have been flagged for, hardly any of them have been called against first-stringers. For example, in Saturdayís 17-13 loss at Washington, second-team tackle Tony Hills was called for a false start and illegal formation. Last week in a 22-10 win over Arizona, third-team tackle Jeremy Parquet was called twice for false starts.

Four times, the Steelersí offense has been called for illegal formations or shifts. Again, most of the culprits are players who wonít see much of the field this year.

Tomlinís camp was tough enough. And the penalty problem will be cleaned up, starting Saturday against Buffalo.

* You may have noticed that Keyaron Fox delivered a big-time red-zone tackle by stopping Ladell Betts for a loss on third-and-1 from the 2-yard line against the Redskins.

Donít be surprised if Fox, the No. 1 back-up to inside linebackers James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons, gets his share of snaps this year with the first-team defense. It appears he has what it takes to be a solid run stopper, much like since-departed Larry Foote was the past several years.

Fox canít come close to matching Timmons in speed, quickness and agility in the open field, especially against the pass. But if Timmons struggles against the run, Fox may be someone defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau can turn to.

Fox has already replaced Foote on the first-team goal line defense.

* In the battle for roster spots at cornerback, rookie Joe Burnettís stock has dropped a little because heís fumbled punts in each of the first two preseason games.

Conversely, the stock of journeyman Keiwan Ratliff is rising. He had a sack against the Cardinals and an interception against the Redskins.

* On Monday, the Steelers didnít give any updates on injured quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger (heel) and Dennis Dixon (separated shoulder).

Speculation is that Roethlisberger will practice today and Dixon wonít.

Mike Bires can be reached at mbires@timesonline.com
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:30 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bires: On the Steelers Beat

once again mesa thanks for the post!!
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Old 08-25-2009, 12:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Bires: On the Steelers Beat

Thanks for this mesa.
I do like Keyaron Fox,he always seems `on the ball` and last season often made an impact in games.
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