Kick returner hopes to go the distance
By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
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All things considered, kick returner Stefan Logan had an excellent first season with the Steelers.
A workhorse on special teams who returned kickoffs as well as punts and also recorded 12 tackles, the smallish Logan (5-foot-6, 180 pounds) made his biggest impact on kickoff returns in 2009. He broke the Steelers' single-season record for kickoff return yards (1,466) and ranked second in the AFC with a 26.7-yard average.
This season, Logan wants to add scoring to his resume.
"I want to improve my average and get a couple of touchdowns," said Logan, who joined the Steelers as a 28-year-old rookie. "If you're going to be a great returner, you've got to have some touchdowns."
Logan came close to breaking a couple of kickoff returns for touchdowns. He had an 83-yard return against Oakland, a 56-yard return against Cincinnati and a 51-yard return against Detroit.
In 15 games as the Steelers' primary kickoff returner, Logan didn't have a return of less than 24 yards.
"He's shown the ability to make people miss," new special teams coach Al Everest said. "He can break arm tackles. He's a small guy, but he's a sturdy guy."
Logan said consistency is another trait for a top return man.
"I talked to (Antwaan) Randle El a few times about his kickoff average. We joked around and I teased him: 'Man, I have a higher average than you,'" Logan said. "He (said), 'That was good. But you've got to do that over a (number) of years.'"
Logan also averaged 9.3 yards on 30 punt returns with a long of 25 yards last season.
Of greater concern are Logan's three fumbles (losing two), which resulted in Mewelde Moore replacing him against Cleveland late in the season.
"I looked at his tape and saw a lot of really good things," Everest said. "Job No. 1 is catching the ball. Ball security has been a focus for us."
Logan is paying closer attention to details entering 2010. The Steelers drafted a pair of wide receivers, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, who also return kicks and offer a threat to Logan's job status.
It took Logan, who wasn't drafted and spent time on the Miami Dolphins practice squad in 2007, a long time to make it to the NFL. He's taking the challenge from the newcomers seriously.
"You don't ever get comfortable. You stay on edge, because that's what keeps you going," Logan said. "Some guys say I play like it's my last play."