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Old 10-15-2010, 11:48 PM   #1
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Default Bires: Containing Cribbs concern No. 1

Bires: Containing Cribbs concern No. 1
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By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
Friday October 15, 2010 12:24 AM

PITTSBURGH — Joshua Cribbs isn’t even a full-time starter. But he’s the guy who most scares the Steelers this week.

He’s a rare breed who can catch, run and throw the football on snaps from scrimmage. He’s also one of the most dangerous kick return specialists in the league.

“He’s very special,” Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said.

As the Steelers wind down their preparations for Sunday’s game against Cleveland, they’ve devoted so much time to Cribbs. They’ve had to because they realize Cribbs can make an impact in so many ways.

In college when he played at Kent State, Cribbs was a quarterback. As a pro, he’s been a wide receiver. So far this year, he’s caught 13 passes for 175 yards including a 65-yard touchdown . But in the last two seasons as the popularity of the Wildcat continues to spread in the NFL, Cribbs has also been the point man for the Browns’ version of the gimmick offense.

Last year, Cribbs carried the ball 55 times for 381 yards, a nifty average of 6.9 yards per carry. He got 87 of those yards on eight carries in a 13-6 upset of the Steelers on a cold and windy Thursday night game on Dec. 10.

The longest run the Steelers allowed all season was Cribbs’ 37-yard scamper late in the second quarter of that frigid evening in Cleveland that set up the game’s only TD.

“He did all right last year,” Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. “He beat us with all that Wildcat stuff.”
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With rookie Colt McCoy probably starting at quarterback Sunday for the Browns, Cribbs will no doubt get plenty of Wildcat touches. He also figures to get a few touches on kickoff and punt returns where he is extremely dangerous.

He’s fifth in NFL history with 10 touchdowns on kick returns. He’s first in NFL history with eight TDs on kickoff returns including three against the Steelers. One of those three TDs was a dazzling 100-yarder in 2007 at Heinz Field that gave the Browns a 28-24 fourth-quarter lead. Earlier in that game (eventually won by the Steelers, 31-28), Cribbs had a 92-yard return that set up a TD.

“He has always been a thorn in our side,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

Considering that the 3-1 Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger returning Sunday and the Browns will probably start McCoy, it’s hard to imagine them losing. But that was the same general feeling last December when the Steelers’ playoff hopes took a severe hit when they lost to a 1-11 Browns team.

There were a number of reasons why the Steelers lost that game in Cleveland, but none more significant than Cribbs’ great play.

He’ll be a marked man Sunday. The Steelers’ No. 1 priority is keeping Cribbs in check.
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