Notebook: Pressure turned up

<b>LATROBE - </b> On an abnormally cool summer day, the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense brought the heat.<br><br><!--Default NodeId For Joey Porter is 1151604,2004--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:1151604]>Joey Porter</A> led an assault on quarterback <A HREF=[PlayerNode:1151624]>Tommy Maddox</A> in the two-minute drill to end Friday's practice. Porter sacked/tabbed Maddox twice during a flurry of three consecutive sacks to halt an offense which had driven to midfield during the drill.

The third sack came from James Farrior as new coordinator Dick LeBeau's unit showed fans at St. Vincent College what has been missing since early in the 2002 season.

It's what Steelers fans are anticipating this year from LeBeau's defense, but Coach Bill Cowher was feeling understandably ambivalent. A strong defensive performance in camp also means a weak offensive performance.

"Yes, I would say it was a defensive day," said Cowher. "One day it will be the defense and one day the offense but certainly there was no doubt the defense controlled most of the day."

Cowher credited LeBeau with the new schemes being utilized. Yesterday, LeBeau used Porter at rush end in the dime, a position he played two years ago. It seemed to revitalize a player who's had only eight sacks and forced three turnovers in his last 25 games.

"He really has picked it up the last couple days," Cowher said. "I think he's picked it up ever since he sacked me that one day."

The second-team offense was on the field very briefly in the two-minute drill. Brian St. Pierre dropped back to pass on first down at his own 33 and threw an interception into the hands of strong safety Russell Stuvaints, who returned it for a touchdown. Practice over.

"I had the hook and curl responsibility," said Stuvaints. "(Zamir Cobb) hooked right in my zone. I read the quarterback and broke on it. I was thinking `Make the play. Just break on the ball and catch it.'"

Stuvaints could've returned the ball all the way to his hometown of McKeesport. A second-year pro, Stuvaints is hoping to make the team out of training camp for the first time.

An undrafted free agent last year out of Youngstown State, Stuvaints made the practice squad out of camp and was called up to the active roster Dec. 2. He played in four games on special teams.

Stuvaints was asked if the interception helped his chances this year.

"It doesn't hurt," he said. "I wish I could feel like a veteran but there's no room for error. I still have to battle hard to make the team."

Stuvaints is second on the Steelers' depth chart at strong safety. He's battling Ainsley Battles for a spot on the roster.

Last year he was worried about being in the right spot. This year, Troy Polamalu is instead worried about not hurting his teammates more than anything else. The second-year strong safety has measured up several receivers over the middle but pulled back at the last second to avoid collisions.

"He would've made a lot of plays in this camp where I think that he has kind of pulled off and made some good decisions because it's our guys we're practicing against," Cowher said. "He has been very solid and you can tell how comfortable he is. He covers a lot of ground. He's going to be a productive player for us this year."

Chris Hope (shoulder) hasn't played since belting Jerome Bettis in Wednesday's goal-line drill. Mike Logan (knee) also was held out of Friday's practice, along with David Upchurch (knee) and Jay Riemersma (groin). During practice, rookie defensive lineman Eric Taylor pulled a hamstring covering kicks and could miss a few days. Rookie cornerback Ricardo Colclough injured his hip flexor during a passing drill and could also miss a couple of days.

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