Notebook: Chad Brown looks back

<b> PITTSBURGH -</b> He was the quintessential rush end in Bill Cowher's 'Blitzburgh' defense of the mid 1990s, and then Chad Brown moved from inside linebacker in the base defense to outside linebacker in 1996 and erupted for 13 sacks.

His career-high for sacks coincided beautifully with free agency and Brown left Pittsburgh for Seattle, where, as his wife put it, the sushi was better, and so, too, of course, was the money. The Steelers will face Brown on Sunday when they travel to meet the Seahawks. Yesterday, Brown looked back on the move he made seven years ago.

"Pittsburgh is definitely a special, special place to play," he said. "But things happen for a reason. I was playing Greg Lloyd's position. He was going to come back and play that spot. The next year I would have been forced to move back to inside linebacker because the Steelers were unable to really compete as far as dollars with the other teams.

"Yes, I am happy with my situation, but I definitely cherish my time as a Steeler." Brown spent four seasons with the Steelers. He played in 56 games, made 49 starts and had 30 sacks.

In seven seasons since, he's started all 92 games in which he's played and has 40 sacks. A foot injury from last season has lingered into this season, causing him to miss last week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown said he'll play Sunday against the Steelers, who've fallen precipitously off their normal sack total. Brown was asked for his view on the matter.

"We definitely were on top of our game when I was there," he said. "We were a great mix of personnel with a great scheme. We were able to dictate and be very aggressive and force people into situations that we wanted. Watching the Steelers defense … teams tend to spread them out and that kind of limits your aggressiveness. I think that has been kind of a general theme when people come to play the Steelers over the last couple of years. They just try to spread them out. That is something that didn't happen to us too much when I was there because we were so aggressive and people were afraid for their quarterback."

The key point, Brown agreed, is that teams are forcing the Steelers' linebackers to drop into coverage.

"I don't know the answer to it," he said. "I'm sure if Coach Cowher had an answer to it, he would've done something to prevent that by now."

The closely scrutinized offensive line could have a new starter this week, or at least a former starter who's being given another chance.

"I got a lot of work with the ones today," Ross said of the first team. However, Ross, who started two weeks ago at right tackle, isn't sure he'll start this Sunday at Seattle.

"We're still moving guys around, so I guess they'll let us know," he said. Ross was initially considered the replacement for departed free agent Wayne Gandy, but struggled mightily at right tackle in the preseason and Todd Fordham drew the starting assignment on opening day.

Ross started at left tackle against Tennessee in Week 4 and again replaced an injured Marvel Smith the following week after three plays. Ross moved to right tackle in Week 6 against Denver, but was benched again after quarterback Tommy Maddox was sacked seven times by the Broncos. There's a good chance he'll return to right tackle against the Seahawks.

"Everybody wants to go in and play well, start or whatever," he said. "If it doesn't go well you've just to come back and keep fighting. You can't just give up. You've got to be persistent with it."

Speaking of perseverance, Russell Stuvaints returned to the locker room for the fourth time this year, the third as a member of the Steelers' practice squad.

Stuvaints, a strong safety from McKeesport High and Youngstown State University, was added yesterday at the expense of offensive tackle Morgan Pears.

"One minute you're up, all happy, kicking with the fellas on the team, and the next minute you're cut," Stuvaints said. "It's very frustrating, a lot of ups and downs for one man to handle, but I'm alright now. You get used to it and understand how it goes, but I wouldn't want to live out my career like that. I hope I can stay here the rest of the year."

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