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fordfixer
11-19-2009, 01:40 AM
Steelers Insider: Clark volunteered for special teams

By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/bct_news/new ... teams.html (http://www.timesonline.com/bct_news/news_details/article/1373/2009/november/19/steelers-insider-clark-volunteered-for-special-teams.html)

Thursday November 19, 2009 12:08 AM

PITTSBURGH — It appears that the addition of Donovan Woods will be the only change on the Steelers’ kickoff coverage team.

Woods, a linebacker, was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Tuesday in a move that may fix the Steelers’ recent troubles trying to tackle kickoff returners. In three of their last four games, the Steelers allowed kickoff returners to break loose for touchdowns.

Free safety Ryan Clark, who’s among the handful of veteran starters who volunteered for special teams duty, doesn’t believe their request will be granted.

“I asked but it’s up to Coach (Mike Tomlin),” Clark said. “I would love to play (on kickoff coverage). That’s the purist thing in football … just tackle the guy with the ball.

“But coach wants to fix the problem, not put a temporary band-aid on it.”

So even though starters such as linebacker James Harrison, defensive end Brett Keisel and Clark have asked to help out, it’s doubtful that will happen.

“What we have to do is get these guys who are already out there to play better, not replace them,” Clark said.

Woods, however, will replace linebacker Arnold Harrison, who was cut.

The Steelers didn’t work on kickoff coverage during Wednesday’s practice. But they will today.

— Mike Bires



REED RESPONDS

At his Tuesday press conference, Tomlin defended kicker Jeff Reed, who’s been accused by some fans and members of the media for making a feeble effort in tackling Bernard Scott in Sunday’s 18-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

As Scott returned a kickoff 96 yards, he ran by Reed near midfield.

“I just look at those people (who criticized me) like they don’t know what they’re talking about” Reed said.

“I am not going to get down to evaluating Jeff Reed as a tackler,” Tomlin said. “When it comes down to that, we have failed as a coverage unit, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t lose any sleep on the quality of Jeff Reed’s tackling. Or tackle attempts.”

CLEAN POLAMALU

Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel is glad he won’t have to face Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu. Due to another knee injury, Polamalu won’t play against the Chiefs.

But Cassel has known for years what an extraordinary athlete Polamalu is.

“Troy is a special player. He’s been to a number of Pro Bowls,” Cassel said. “And I’m actually lucky enough to have seen him play in college as well. We went to college together, and I know how special he is.”
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At Southern Cal, where he backed up Carson Palmer and Matt Leinhart, Cassel was on the team for three of Polamalu’s four seasons at USC. In fact, at one point, Cassel, Palmer and Polamalu were among the Trojans who shared a house.

“He’s got a quiet presence about himself,” Cassel said. “But once you get to know him, he’s really a great guy. He’s definitely a special person.”

And how was Polamalu as a roommate?

“Clean,” Cassel said. “Very clean.”

INJURY UPDATE

Wednesday as his teammates practiced, Polamalu watched with a brace around his injured left knee. It’s unlikely that he’ll practice at all this week as he rehabs from a sprained posterior cruciate ligament.

Polamalu’s latest injury is different and less severe that the medial collateral ligament sprain he suffered in the season opener. He missed four games with his sprained MCL.

Tyrone Carter will start in place of Polamalu against the Chiefs.

Meanwhile, defensive end Travis Kirschke (torn calf muscle) and fullback Carey Davis (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.

Kirschke has missed the last two games and probably won’t play in K.C.

Davis, who didn’t play against the Bengals, is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs.

Also missing practice Wednesday was rookie wide receive Mike Wallace with flu-like symptoms.

SMITH HONORED

Defensive end Aaron Smith, who’s out with a season-ending shoulder injury, has been honored as the Steelers’ 2009 Ed Block Courage Award winner.

The award is presented annually one player on all 32 NFL teams who has fought back from an injury or tough situation. Smith was chosen by his Steeler teammates for him for the way he handled a personal family crisis.

Last year during the season, Smith’s 5-year-old son Elijah was diagnosed with leukemia. Fortunately, Elijah has responded well to treatment and appears to be the road to recovery.

“Although this is an honor I wish I wasn’t getting, it is quite an honor when your teammates recognize you,” Smith said on Tuesday when he received the award at a luncheon at Heinz Field.

phillyesq
11-19-2009, 04:08 PM
I admire Clark, Kiesel, Harrison and whoever else volunteered for special teams duty.

I think that Tomlin is doing the prudent thing by keeping those guys off of kick coverage. For a tight game either in the playoffs or with playoff implications, I might feel differently, but you'd hate to see the reigning Defensive MVP get injured covering kicks against the Chiefs (no offense, Hardliner).

fezziwig
11-19-2009, 07:29 PM
Got to love those players that wants to make more of a difference.