View Full Version : No major changes on kick coverage team -- yet

11-19-2009, 01:31 AM
View From The Press Box

No major changes on kick coverage team -- yet
November 18th, 2009
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Thanks but no thanks.

That is essentially what Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told Ryan Clark this week when the free safety volunteered for special-teams duty -- and specifically for the embattled kickoff coverage unit.

Donovan Woods will take the spot of Arnold Harrison, who was released earlier this week.

But it doesn’t look like Tomlin will make wholesale changes to it even though he said last Sunday he was open to anything, including using more defensive starters on the kickoff coverage team.

Cornerbacks Ike Taylor and William Gay are the only starters on that unit.

“Coach wants to fix the problem, not put a temporary Band-Aid on it by throwing some guys out there who may not be able to continue playing throughout the year,” said Clark, who served as the Steelers’ up back on punts last season. “If you throw a James Harrison out there, who’s a great special-teams player, if we get Lawrence Timmons out there, can those guys play snap in and snap out without having to put the backups in? What we have to do is get those who are out there to play better, not replace them. Coach is taking that approach: coach it up, fix it, scheme it up the right way and as players we have to play better.”

The Steelers have given up three kickoff returns for touchdown in their last four games.

The 96-yarder they allowed to rookie Bernard Scott last Sunday produced the only touchdown of the game in their 18-12 loss to the Bengals.

Deconstructing the return, special teams co-captain Keyaron Fox said some of the players slowed down a little bit after Scott bobbled Jeff Reed’s kick. That allowed Scott, who had been hemmed into the left corner of the field, to work his way back to the middle.

Fox, who claimed he was held on the play, said some of the Steelers were too aggressive and got out of their assigned lanes. After that, it was off to the races for Scott.

As for the possibility of using more starters on the kickoff coverage team, Fox said, “Definitely don’t want to have to resort to that. That takes a little bit of gas out of their tank and they need to finish up in the fourth quarter. Right now I don’t think we’re that far in the tank where that’s our go-to option right now. I think it’s a problem we can fix with the personnel that we have.”

"Right now" is the operative phrase there, and if the Steelers don’t clean things up on their kickoff coverage team, Tomlin may not have a choice but to call on players like Harrison and Clark to help in that area.

"I think he wants to fix it in his way. We trust him,” Clark said. “Obviously, he’s a Super Bowl (winning) coach after only two years so he’s a lot smarter than I am. We believe in him and we’re going to go with what he says.

"Young guys have to do something. If you have a young guy that’s not getting snaps on defense, they have to earn their keep in some way. That’s how a lot of guys made this team, through special teams.”