Notebook: Offense Redeems Itself

<b> LATROBE –</b> Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey shut off the question about Wednesday night's failure at the goal line before it could be asked. <br><br> "Wait a minute," Mularkey interrupted. "It was a self-inflicted wound. We fumbled."

The offense just can't admit to being stopped on four inside running plays Wednesday night. So they didn't waste any time in the goal-line drill Saturday. Jerome Bettis ran five yards on first down for a touchdown.

Mularkey was asked if it felt good to gain redemption in only one play.

"It was good for them because they get outta there," he said with a laugh. "Obviously I want to score on the first play but to them, they talk in the huddle, ‘Let's get it here'."

"That's a grind, it's grueling and it is brutal to be in there in goal-line situations, so, yes, scoring on the first play is good, even in practice."

Bettis took the handoff and ran left, away from his fullback. Tight end Jerame Tuman rolled down to block nose tackle Casey Hampton and guard Alan Faneca drove Kimo von Oelhoffen left to open the hole for Bettis.

"I was disappointed we didn't get it in a couple of days ago. This was good," said Bettis. "We're getting there. The first week of camp is always going to be a tough week, because you're feeling yourself out. It was a good first week. You just have to build off that."

"We had a good day," said Mularkey. "It was the most consistent practice we've had. It's a grind when you get rolling and I thought they were, by period, consistent. That's what we're capable of and it's good we can show that every once in awhile."

Coach Bill Cowher echoed the sentiments.

"The offense got even quickly. It was good work. It's been a good week," he said. "I think the last few days, their legs were very sluggish. They'll get [Sunday] off and we'll come back [Sunday] night and meet and start this over again next week and finish up with the game in Detroit."

"Right now you're conditioning the mind. That's what we have to do. They've worked very hard and we've got to pay attention to the little things. We got a little sloppy and sometimes that happens when you get tired."

JUMBO PACKAGE
The only new player in the goal-line offense was Wes Ours, the 6-foot fullback from West Virginia University who's listed generously at 284 pounds.

"Yeah, we've got big fullbacks, bigger fullbacks and Danny Kreider, who hits like a big, big, big fullback," Cowher said. "Wes is a big man back there. He's over 300."

Cowher was asked if using Ours in front of Bettis at the goal-line is a jumbo package.

"When he's in there, it's definitely jumbo," Cowher said.

Mularkey was asked if there's anything to be read into on the depth chart with Ours lining up in front of Bettis on the play.

"No, not at all," he said. "It's just the rotation."

INTRIGUING NEW HOLDER
Tommy Maddox held for Jeff Reed when the place-kicker went through his paces Saturday. Holding for backup kicker Jonathan Ruffin was Antwaan Randle El, the wide receiver with a quarterback pedigree.

"Certainly that creates some options there as well," Cowher said. "I don't think there are too many things you could ask him to do that he couldn't do. He's a very talented young man. When he's out there, you have some options. With him there, if it's a bad snap, that might not be a bad thing."

INJURY LIST
Amos Zereoue missed his second consecutive practice after having his foot stepped on by lineman Mathias Nkwenti on Thursday. Cowher expects Zereoue back Monday morning. Also, quarterback Tim Levcik (knee) and cornerback Chidi Iwuoma (ankle) missed Saturday's practice.

Jim Wexell
SteelCitySports.com

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