Notebook: Flowers given fresh start

<b>PITTSBURGH –</b> Now that Levon Kirkland is out of the NFL, Erik Flowers just might be the biggest linebacker. The newest addition to the Steelers' roster is listed at 6 feet 4, 273 pounds. <br><br> "Nah, I'm not 270 anymore," said Flowers. "That was when I was a defensive end coming out of college. I don't weigh that much anymore."

And he doesn't play defensive end anymore. As a college senior, scouts viewed the Arizona State player as an outside linebacker, at least the Steelers did.

"We had good grades on the guy," said defensive coordinator Tim Lewis. "I remember writing a report on him. He was a good-looking linebacker."

Flowers, though, was drafted 26th by the Buffalo Bills and used at defensive end. He played in all 16 games as a rookie in 2000 and recorded 23 tackles, forced a fumble and intercepted a pass. He also had two sacks.

In 2001, Flowers played in 15 games with the Bills, starting the first five games of the season. He made 37 tackles and had two sacks.

"I had an injury my rookie year and it slowed me down," said Flowers. "The second year, the system never clicked with me."

So the Bills released him late in August of 2002. He was claimed off waivers by the expansion Houston Texans and was moved to outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme. It didn't work out and he was released this week.

"I got in there late and they were working with their [starters], so I didn't learn the terminology, which I'd never heard in my life," said Flowers, who was asked if joining the Steelers represents a new start for him.

"Kind of," he said. "The Texans were able to teach me some of the terminology this off-season, what these calls mean, and we ran some of the same stuff. So now I feel I understand it. Now all I have to do is learn the calls in this system and take it from there, but yes I do feel as if this is a fresh start for me."


Speaking of new Steelers, wide receiver Fred Milons made a name for himself as a Slash-back at the University of Alabama. The former high-school quarterback moved to wide receiver at Alabama, but often took snaps at quarterback. His play at both positions resulted in him being named MVP of the 1999 SEC Championship Game against Florida.

"We had Chris Samuels at left tackle; Shaun Alexander in the backfield. We had a team full of leaders and all we had to do as young guys was play and have fun," Milons said. "The lights came on and I guess we didn't get shell-shocked from all the excitement around the game. I took this one snap at quarterback. It was a play to go left but I got pressured from that side. Like I said, it was one of those nights and I was running away from guys and the next thing I knew I was in the end zone. We won that game and went on to the Orange Bowl. It was a great year and a great game to remember."

Milons ended up second in school history in receiving yardage (1,859 yards), third in kickoff returns (40-917) and fourth with 3,449 all-purpose yards. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2002 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, where he never recovered from a broken fibula suffered in the final preseason game. He was deactivated before every game and then traded last week to the Steelers for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.

"I really haven't had a chance at this level to find my niche, or my strength," Milons said. "In college I was used outside and inside as a receiver, but I really haven't had enough snaps to find my niche yet. Hopefully I can find it here."

He's expected to return a few punts and work into the receiving rotation, but Milons doesn't plan on taking any snaps at quarterback.

"I think I just want to do the receiver thing," he said. "I'll do whatever for the team, but if I had my choice I would love to stay at receiver."


Guests who attend events at Heinz Field with children can register their child with stadium personnel in a program called "Kid Connection." Fans can register their child at the main guest services room near section 104 in the Great Hall. A wristband with the location of the parent's seat will be given to the child.

Jim Wexell

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