Notebook: Gildon, Again

<b>LATROBE -- </b> It's the seemingly never-ending question: Is Jason Gildon ready to take his place in Steelers history? <br><br> Reporters first began asking about Gildon's rise up the Steelers sacks chart in the spring of 2002. But Gildon, the Steelers' strong-side outside linebacker, was stopped at 71 career sacks last year, only 2.5 behind the franchise's unofficial leader, L.C. Greenwood, who played before sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982.

Coach Bill Cowher was asked to comment on Gildon's imminent ascension to the top spot.

"Jason has just been a very consistent player," Cowher said. "There is probably nothing real flashy about him, but if you look at him and what he has done, he is a very productive player. He is smart; he is durable. I think that with all of the great Steelers linebackers that have come down through the years, this guy can stand up and be very proud. He has been a very consistent player year in and year out."

The day after the offense was stopped short of the goal line at Wednesday night's practice, center Jeff Hartings said "the backs probably had some holes they could've hit." The message was relayed to Amos Zereoue, who carried twice before fumbling inside the one.

"Ohh-kay," Zereoue said with exaggeration.

Were the holes there?

"Oh, there were some holes," he said. "But I don't think that's something we want to start up with our offensive line. If they say we didn't then the next time we'll just do a better job."

Aaron Smith dominated Kendall Simmons' replacement at right guard – Keydrick Vincent – this week. But did Smith dominate because he's that good or because Vincent's that bad?

Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis believes Smith's been that good.

"He's doing very well," Lewis said. "But you don't ever expect anything different from Aaron. He's been doing that ever since he's been a starter here. His first year he kind of swam around; he had no idea. But he's way further ahead than he's ever been."

Second-year player Lee Mays rarely spoke above a whisper as a rookie, but he now has confidence in the clichés he dispenses to reporters. Here's a rather amusing exchange.

Reporter: "A lot of people are expecting a lot from you. Are you a confident guy this year?"

Mays: "I want to have a good camp and help out the team any way I can, whether it be special teams or as a receiver. I'm just out here trying to do my best and help out the team."

Reporter: "Now those are certainly laudable goals, but, come one, let me in brother."

Mays: "My goals are just to help out the team whether it's as a receiver or on special teams. I just want to help out the team."

Quarterback Phil Stambaugh was brought to camp because he'd previously impressed one of the team's coaching interns with his intelligence. But his arm? That's another matter.

"Stambaugh ain't no SamBaugh," one reporter said to Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert, who just smiled.

Another reporter jumped in. "He's got a bigger wind-up than Fernando Valenzuela," he said.

While top pick Troy Polamalu has moved into the lineup as the third safety in the nickel package, Chris Hope is the third safety in the dime. Starting safeties Brent Alexander and Mike Logan play in both packages. ... The oldest player on the Steelers' roster is punter Josh Miller, who turned 33 last month. ... The day Chad Scott appeared at the top of one of the city's sports pages wearing the big, black X on his jersey, he switched to his usual No. 30, and has worn the numbered jersey since then. ... Back-up place-kicker Jonathan Ruffin slipped and fell on his rear end while attempting a field goal on Saturday. That's apparently where some of his teammates would like to see him stay. "He thinks he's Jan Stenerud," one of them said with obvious disdain. Ruffin, a rookie, refuses to carry the pads of veteran teammates to and from practice. ... The most impressive undrafted rookie free agent might be running back Donte Brown, a 6-foot, 211-pound tailback from the University of Memphis.

Jim Wexell

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