So far, LeBeau shooting blanks

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Under new defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, the Steelers were expected to make big plays in bunches.<br><br> LeBeau, the thinking went, would take these talented Steelers and provide them with a scheme that would improve upon the fewest sacks (35) and turnovers (25) in the Bill Cowher era.

But after three preseason games, the talented Steelers have been blanked. In fact, the leader board is bereft of name recognition. Here are the team's sacks leaders:

1. Chris Hoke, 1.5.
2. (tie) Dedrick Roper, 1.0; Team, 1.0.
3. James Harrison, 0.5.

A list isn't necessary for turnovers. Only Terry Fair, the hobbled cornerback who hasn't played since the 2001 season, has an interception. The Steelers haven't recovered an opponent's fumble yet. In total, that's 0-for-the first team.

"But we created bad throws," said outside linebacker Joey Porter. "We won the game. That's the biggest stat of all. It doesn't matter how many sacks you had, if we have no sacks and get some pressure and make the quarterback throw some bad balls. You check the Philly game. We had the guy four times. It was just a great effort by the quarterback. Balls went through our hands five different times. So, the sacks and interceptions are there, we just have to make them."

The best examples of players who had sacks that didn't really happen were Alonzo Jackson and Ike Taylor. Both players had their arms around Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb but failed to finish the play.

"Well he's strong," said LeBeau. "There's no question about it he made two good plays against us. Actually, they both had to beat blockers. They did a real good job. The easier part of that is finishing the sack. They didn't get it done but next time we will."

Next time probably won't come very quickly for Jackson. He's been replaced in the starting lineup by Clark Haggans, who's been with the Steelers four years and started four games.

Haggans sat the bench behind left outside linebacker Jason Gildon, but to replace Gildon this year the Steelers first turned to Marcus Washington. After Washington spurned the Steelers' offer, they turned to Haggans. Now they're hoping he can do more than they expected initially.

"For his position he's one of the fastest guys in the league and that elevates the speed of the whole defense," LeBeau said. "He's a good player but he definitely makes us faster."

Porter has said the same about Haggans ever since he played with him at Colorado State.

"He's going to go out there and do his thing," Porter said. "I'm just looking forward to Oakland. This preseason stuff is fine, but at the end of the day it doesn't count toward a regular-season win."

Defenses are known to not give anything away in the preseason. Has that been the case with the Steelers this summer?

"No. We're just running our defense really," said LeBeau. "We're getting a lot of pressure. If the quarterback takes the ball and throws an incompletion, you're not going to get a sack but they're not going to make many plays if they just grab the ball and throw it. We're getting a lot of plays like that."

Porter was asked the same question.

"We showed enough to give people something to practice for," he said. "Do we have more? Yeah, we have more. You don't want to show them everything, you know what I mean? Just give them enough to practice and that's how you keep them off-balance. I think we have a nice package that we'll have in our game plan for Oakland. As far as us having more defenses to show, we have some more defenses left."

Porter believes this defense, when fully installed and healthy, will become a team strength, as opposed to being a team question mark as the regular season draws near.

"This defense is still special," he said. "We have two of the best safeties in the game who can come up and play the run and the pass in Troy (Polamalu) and (Chris) Hope. I think the defense is going to surprise a lot of people."

NOTES - Deshea Townsend (groin) and Alan Faneca (shoulder) missed practice Monday but are expected back soon. Ike Taylor replaced Townsend. Taylor played left cornerback and Chad Scott slid over to the right side. Jim Jones replaced Faneca at left guard. … Haggans intercepted Tommy Maddox for a touchdown on the first play of team scrimmage. … After Saturday's cut of tight end Bobby Blizzard, the Steelers must make at least six more cuts by 4 p.m. Tuesday. … The Steelers' preseason game Thursday at Heinz Field against the Carolina Panthers has been moved up to 6:30 p.m.

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