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  1. #1
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Special teams will be tested this week

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08254...?cmpid=HBEHTML
    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Steelers' special teams were particularly exposed by Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs last season.It would seem like child's play for Joshua Cribbs again Sunday night in Cleveland. He gets to return kicks against the Steelers.

    That has been like robbing banks on Barney Fife's watch.

    He returned one 92 yards against them for a touchdown in 2006 and came right back with one of 100 yards last season.

    "There is one Joshua Cribbs, and we are going to see him on Sunday," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "No question what he did to us in the past was very critical in terms of how the game played out."

    Cribbs put Cleveland on top by four points with his 100-yard, fourth-quarter kickoff return Nov. 11 in Heinz Field. The Browns' lead stood up until Ben Roethlisberger threw the winning touchdown pass to Heath Miller with 3:13 left for the Steelers.

    Had the Steelers lost that game, the Browns would have won the AFC North.

    The Steelers ranked 14th in the 16-team AFC as a kickoff unit last season, allowing opponents to start at the 29.9 yard line on average. This came after Tomlin hired two special teams coaches for the first time in franchise history and gave them extra time for practice.

    Maybe the coverage teams finally have improved this season. Special-teams play, including those of the kick- and punt-coverage teams, were as good as their offense or defense in the 38-17 victory Sunday against Houston. The Texans' Andre Davis, who returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season when he averaged 30.3 yards per return, was held to an 18.7-yard average on six kickoff returns Sunday. A seventh went through the end zone for a touchback.

    Also, Mitch Berger averaged 43.0 yards on three punts with only 5 yards in returns.

    A big part of those tiny returns by Houston was the play of Anthony Madison, William Gay, Andre Frazier, Carey Davis and newcomer Keyaron Fox. Rookie Donovan Woods led special teams with three tackles. Defensive starters James Harrison and Ryan Clark also had a tackle each.

    "I liked what 22 [Gay] and 37 [Madison] do as a tandem," Tomlin said. "They have very similar jobs, whether it is kickoffs, punt, or punt return; they are really the same guy. They are coming into their own in terms of embracing those roles. They are much better as we sit here today than they were a year ago.

    "I like the direction that those two guys are moving."

    The Steelers signed Fox, a linebacker, as an unrestricted free agent from Kansas City mostly for his special-teams play, and he has not disappointed them.

    "We like our cast of characters," Tomlin said. "We have some questions that need to be answered, and the only way that they are going to be answered is with quality play."

    Jeff Reed, who made his only field-goal try from 44 yards, varied his kickoffs against Houston. He kicked in different directions and popped one up purposely. The only one not returned was an unintentional squib that the Texans could not field and the ball rolled through the end zone.

    "Jeff needs to be at his best, and we have to be at our best as coverage people [against Cribbs], " said Tomlin.

    "Some of the guys who are major contributors on those units were not here a year ago or had different roles. We are going to leave those bags behind and go compete against somebody who is one of the best in the world."

    Improved special-teams play could only enhance the overall success of the Steelers because they did not get good play in that area last season.
    Houston's special teams was a good test for us but this week our coverage units will definitely be tested against the Clowns. Our return game should have a chance to put up some good numbers and we definitely need work on that. We'll need Jeff Reed to have more of those deep kickoffs into the endzone like he did last week. I'd be quite content to see every kickoff go right into the endzone and every punt go out of bounds but since that probably won't happen our guys are going to need to stay in their lanes and be sure tacklers.

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    TampaSteelGirl's Avatar
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    I think this will be a huge test for our special teams stopping Cribbs! After seeing them last week I think we can do that. I think last week built alot of confidence for our special teams, I hope we keep it up!


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    Head Coach LatrobePA's Avatar
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    **** in Cribbs has been layed up with a bad hammie, look for him to be slowed down just enough for us to grab him. Steptoe looks good back there too, so we have more than one returner to be afraid of.
    "Happy Happy Happy"

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    AZ_Steeler's Avatar
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    I don't think we need to worry about him... the Steelers punter doesn't kick the ball far enough to out-kick the coverage!

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    Stairwayto7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LatrobePA View Post
    shiat in Cribbs has been layed up with a bad hammie, look for him to be slowed down just enough for us to grab him. Steptoe looks good back there too, so we have more than one returner to be afraid of.
    I agree, he will be ready to play, but how good will be the question! NOT SKEEEEERED!


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    Keeper of Keys Dean Denton's Avatar
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    I already told you guys that there is nothing to worry about. We got this covered. You guys need to remember that we will be the ones to score on special teams this Sunday, not the Browns. No Errors from the Steelers this week. Anywhere!!!!!! Look for Cribbs to fumble or get KO'd. The Steelers are so pumped up right now the 85 Bears couldn't handle this beast known as the Steel Machine.

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    JensK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Denton View Post
    I already told you guys that there is nothing to worry about. We got this covered. You guys need to remember that we will be the ones to score on special teams this Sunday, not the Browns. No Errors from the Steelers this week. Anywhere!!!!!! Look for Cribbs to fumble or get KO'd. The Steelers are so pumped up right now the 85 Bears couldn't handle this beast known as the Steel Machine.
    That is one brave statement right there Im still a lil worried about ST, but thats it. We got it covered on all other spots. Cribbs is an elite returnman, and if he has a good night, all teams in the league will have problems with him.
    However much you think you know about football, rest assured that Skip Bayless knows more!

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    Cribbs has an high ankle sprain those usually take 4 weeks or so 2 heal, but i believe our S.T unit is much better than last year, Jeff Reed has 2 come through all day 4 us on kick offs,we will b ok, i look 4ward 2 seeing the Steelers Kick The SH** outta of the Clowns, cause we go 2 them Eagles next week.

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ_Steeler View Post
    I don't think we need to worry about him... the Steelers punter doesn't kick the ball far enough to out-kick the coverage!
    Then just kick the damn thing out of bounds atleast, I think he could probably handle that

    Im actually excited to see our ST coverage units this weekend, I want to see them up against a quality returner and blocking scheme. Not that Clevelands other 10 ST players are any better than ours but Cribbs is a beast even at 50% so it will be a challenge.

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    Keeper of Keys Dean Denton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JensK View Post
    That is one brave statement right there Im still a lil worried about ST, but thats it. We got it covered on all other spots. Cribbs is an elite returnman, and if he has a good night, all teams in the league will have problems with him.
    You can worry if we are clinging to a 6 point or less lead with 50 seconds to go and we are having to punt from our end zone...and we shank it.....lol
    My daughter understands that if its a blow out she can leave early, and so she is really pushing for a mugging of the Browns. The Browns are like Miguel Cotto, and the Steelers are Antonio Margarito. This game wont be close.
    ST unit will hold this year..Bend but dont break just like everything else on this team......

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