Notebook: Upon further review...

<b>LATROBE - </b>The Steelers averaged six yards per carry and turned the ball over only once. Those were the good things offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey took from Monday's film session of an otherwise abysmal offensive performance Saturday against the Detroit Lions.

"I'm really a big positive-reinforcement guy so I try to find something good in everything and stay away from the negative," said Mularkey. "We did run the ball pretty well. We got stuffed on some things but we averaged five yards a carry, if you're not counting the reverses or the scrambles. We hit some runs, which I was pleased to see. I think our backs ran well.

"That's the thing you've got to get across to these guys. It was the first game of the preseason, we're not game-planning and they're probably not either. It's a great learning experience. There's so much teaching that goes on in that two-and-a-half hours. You can't do after a practice what you do after a game."

The Steelers struggled with pass protection, allowing a safety and four additional sacks. Mularkey was asked if his offensive play-calling might tend towards running the ball with an offensive line that's in obvious transition.

"No. We just need to get our group in there," he said. "We haven't had our initial starters in there since camp started. Once we get them in and get into a flow of things ... I'm not panicking right now to be honest with you. I think it's good that some of these guys are getting the playing time they're getting, and I don't foresee changing right now after only one game."

After losing three yards on the first three series combined, and trailing 2-0, Mularkey's spirits were uplifted by a field-goal drive early in the second quarter. He was, however, hoping for a quicker start.

"Actually I talked to them this morning and gave them my speech for next Friday," he said. "We want a slow start. We want to get in as many third-and-longs as we can. We want to make as many mistakes as we can. And we don't want to make any big plays. It's the exact opposite of what I said Friday night because I covered all the bases of everything we didn't do."

After the game Saturday, Coach Bill Cowher feared wide receiver Lee Mays (shoulder) and center Chukky Okobi (ankle) might miss as many as two weeks, but Cowher said Monday he expects both players back by Thursday. He also said backup lineman Calvin Collins (ankle) on the practice field as soon as Tuesday.

Returning to practice Monday were running back Amos Zereoue, cornerback Hank Poteat, guard Kendall Simmons, fullback Wes Ours and tackle Todd Fordham.

Dan Rumishek was waived after suffering a high ankle sprain Saturday. He will receive an injury settlement from the Steelers.

To replace Rumishek, an undrafted rookie defensive lineman, the Steelers signed Roy Attieh (6-1, 310), who'd previously signed with the team after the April draft but was released prior to training camp.

A justice studies major at Kent State, Attieh passed up an internship with the CIA to play football his senior season. Born in Boonton, New Jersey, to Lebanese parents, Attieh speaks fluent Arabic and had rekindled his interest in the spy game this summer.

"I had a couple interviews with them," he said of the CIA.

Last year, inside linebacker James Farrior took the signals from the sideline and called the plays in the huddle for the base defense. Joey Porter, the middle man in the 4-1-6, called the plays for the dime defense.

Porter, though, has been stripped of those duties, which now belong to free safety Brent Alexander.

"I guess they wanted Brent to call it. I never heard a reason why," said Porter. "It's kind of crazy because a linebacker should be the quarterback of the defense, but I kind of roll with whatever the coaches want me to do."

Rookie running back Dante Brown credited fullback J.T. Wall with "pinning two guys inside" on the key block that opened up a whopping hole for Brown's 38-yard touchdown run on his only carry of Saturday's game.

"I'm pretty sure some of you'all could have run through that hole," Brown said to reporters. "Everybody kind of crashed inside and left the outside wide open. There was no one there."
Jim Wexell

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