"It's been productive. I think we're establishing something," Cowher said. "I think we bonded a little bit up here and we're starting to come together as a team."">
"It's been productive. I think we're establishing something," Cowher said. "I think we bonded a little bit up here and we're starting to come together as a team."">

Steelers coordinators assess camp

LATROBE – Even though the Steelers weren't rewarded with "Movie Day" on the final full day of training camp, the time spent at St. Vincent College camp has been dubbed a success by coach Bill Cowher and his first lieutenants.<br><br> "It's been productive. I think we're establishing something," Cowher said. "I think we bonded a little bit up here and we're starting to come together as a team."

They bonded more than "a little bit." They bonded a cornerback. After the horn sounded on the camp's final full practice yesterday, members of the Steelers defense taped rookie Ricardo Colclough to the goal post, and then doused him with ice water.

They may have bonded, but they couldn't douse the enthusiasm of the team's two new coordinators, who each gave positive summations on the just-concluded camp.

"You always want to be better, but I'm very pleased with the effort," said defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. "We've got a ways to go but if your players are working hard and applying themselves to learning what you're doing, you have to be somewhat pleased. But we want to be a whole lot better."

The biggest task for LeBeau has been to provide a working chemistry to a secondary that has three new starters from last year's opening game, as well as new dime backs in Ike Taylor and Colclough.

"The coaching sessions helped us a great deal with the communication in the secondary," LeBeau said. "It also helps that it's Chris Hope's and Troy Polamalu's second years in the system. It may be their first year of playing full time but it's their second year in the system and that's a tremendous advantage in terms of experience."

The new secondary allowed Houston quarterbacks David Carr and Tony Banks to complete 13 of 17 passes for 99 yards last Saturday. Cowher, though, wouldn't blame the high completion percentage on poor coverage.

"I don't like to see quarterbacks sitting out there and having all day to throw. That to me is a problem," Cowher said. "I want to see some pressure."

The linebackers haven't had a sack or forced a turnover in two preseason games. Sacks and turnovers have been priorities for a team coming off all-time season lows under Cowher.

"I think our rushing average was under 3.0 (2.6) last week, and in the first week it was barely over 3.0 (3.1)," LeBeau said. "The linebackers have got to be doing alright when you get in those kinds of numbers.

"We always want more sacks and more turnovers, but we kind of like 38 to 3," he said of the score in Saturday's win.

Offensively, the Steelers spent camp sorting through a competitive race at tailback and patching another hole in the offensive line. Both positions factored heavily into the team ranking 31st in the league in rushing last season.

Duce Staley is expected to take the starting tailback job away from Jerome Bettis, with Verron Haynes, Dante Brown and rookie speedster Willie Parker pushing for playing time. On the line, Keydrick Vincent has replaced the injured Kendall Simmons at right guard.

"In some things he's not going to be as effective as Kendall," said first-year offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. "And in other things maybe he'll be more effective because Keydrick's a big guy."

Whisenhunt is utilizing the concepts he learned with the New York Jets under Dan Henning, who was tutored by Joe Gibbs with the Washington Redskins in the 1980s.

"It kind of mirrors what coach Cowher wants," Whisenhunt said. "Coach has done a great job this camp of staying focused on getting that point of being more physical across, so it's made it easier for me to continue to hammer at that."

And Gibbs' offense in a nutshell?

"Multiple personnel, multiple shifts and motions, and multiple formations," Whisenhunt said. "So we may run one play but run it out of five different personnel groups five different ways. There's a method to the madness by keeping it simple but yet making it look like it's not."

Whisenhunt said the difference from last year's offense is the running game will be more versatile. The Steelers will also use H-backs more often.

Whisenhunt was also asked about the progress of rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"We've been throwing a lot at him. It takes him a little while to absorb it – not a long time – but he's doing better," Whisenhunt said. "As he sees it more and more he's getting better and better. The next test for him is, as these games get faster and faster, like this week, to see how the reaction to that is.

"The thing I'm most pleased about is how these guys practiced and how they worked. It's a credit to them and it's a credit to coach. Regardless of whether they've had success or haven't had success, they've worked hard, and if you do that you establish a toughness, and I think that's the Pittsburgh Steelers."

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