Will the sack attack be back?

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> Back when they attacked the passers of the WAC at Colorado State, Joey Porter and Clark Haggans were a sight to behold.<br><br> "We accomplished a lot," said Porter. "Whenever we got a one-on-one, we would be licking our chops."

Porter had 15 sacks and Haggans had 11. They formed as productive a tandem of pass rushers as there was in college football in 1998.

Today? Well, things haven't been quite as glorious. After a Bill Cowher-era low 35 sacks and a 16-game season-record low 25 turnovers last season, the first-team Steelers defense, of which Porter is the captain, didn't record a sack or turnover in the preseason.

Was new defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau holding back on the blitzes? Will fans see a difference Sunday in the season opener against the Oakland Raiders?

"You'll see enough to where you won't be asking me that question no more about sacks and interceptions," Porter snapped.

No, things aren't nearly as glorious. But Porter will have his bookend back Sunday. After playing opposite Jason Gildon through the first five seasons of his pro career, Porter will start opposite Haggans for the first time since their college days.

For Haggans, the start will be the fourth of his career. In his previous three starts, Haggans has served as Porter's replacement, not his partner in creating chaos.

"It's exciting," said Haggans. "I know I missed a lot of time in training camp and I'm happy to be back in the swing of things."

Haggans broke two fingers in his left hand prior to training camp and missed all but the last preseason game. He remained in shape during his time off and is only concerned about the new terminology LeBeau has brought with him to the Steelers defense. As for his hand, Haggans said it's fine.

"I can do everything I need to do," he said. "It gets a little bit swollen and it looks uglier than it seems, but I can still bend my fingers."

So, what was it like terrorizing quarterbacks back in college?

"When we were at Colorado State, and the ball was snapped, it was a footrace," Haggans said. "A lot of times, we'd come off the edge, beat our guys and run into each other because the quarterback would step up into the pocket."

Haggans said the past has heightened his excitement for the future because he knows what he and Porter can accomplish.

"It's kind of a flashback," Haggans said. "It was at a different level, but it's the same thing. I was on the left side; he was on the right side in college. When you're sitting in the huddle and I see him across from me, it brings back old, fond memories."

But can those flashbacks bring back old, fond production?

"That's what I'm trying to do," he said. "You always try to think about what you did well in the past to try to help you, help your confidence. I try to utilize and try to apply what I've learned in the past and what I'm learning now and try to apply it to my game."

Haggans isn't about to predict that the sacks will begin to pile up. He and Porter haven't even made any bets yet. In college, they'd bet anything on everything - sacks, pressures, tackles, turnovers. Their competitiveness produced 26 sacks in Porter's senior season. Haggans was a junior.

"The games count now. We've got nothing to hide or hold back," Haggans said. "They expect us to get to the quarterback as much as we can, and stop the run, the pass, everything. So from Week One to Week Five, I think our execution will get better as we get more comfortable with the defense. I don't think there's anything to hold back.

"Back in college, our coach, Sonny Lubick, always said, 'Go out there and play hard and let the chips fall where they may.' So we'll see what happens on Sunday."

NOTES - Kendrell Bell missed practice with a new injury. He was listed as questionable on the updated Thursday injury report with a groin injury, the same injury that kept Bell out of the majority of minicamp. Cowher wouldn't comment on the injury. Team spokesman Ron Wahl said, "It's on the injury list. There's nothing to add." … Cornerback Chad Scott (thumb) was added to the injury list as probable, although he practiced Thursday.

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