Haggans, Porter up ante in sack competition

Adding a little spirit to the competition to see who leads the Steelers in sacks this season, some members of the defensive front seven – linebackers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, and defensive ends Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel – will have a little extra riding on the outcome.

"With Aaron Smith and (Brett) Keisel and everybody, we've been talking about putting together a kitty to see who leads (the team)," said Porter, who had a team-high 10.5 sacks last season and ranks sixth in team history with 53. "It'll be something small, but it will be that little extra incentive to go out there and do good. It's not that we wouldn't anyway, but we're competitive in everything we do. You want to one-up a guy and that will push you. I think it will be a great competition for everybody."

Smith led the team in sacks two seasons ago with eight, but that was an anomaly in the Steelers' 3-4 defense. Since 1993, a linebacker has led the team in sacks 11 times.

"It's pretty tough with Joey and Clark; they're pretty much sack masters," said Keisel, who moves into the starting lineup this season.

"Our sacks should count as at least five, but I don't think they'll do that. We've just got to work hard to get to the quarterback."

Porter and Haggans have been competing against each other for the better part of a decade, dating back to their days as bookend defensive ends at Colorado State University, where Haggans ranks as the school's all-time sack leader with 34 and Porter is fourth with 22.

"We always have competition, whether it be sacks or playing dominoes, video games, push-ups, anything," said Haggans. "That's how the whole (team) is. We come up with that kind of stuff to keep each other going and to be the best we can be."

Porter also expects Haggans, who is entering his third season as a starter, to be his stiffest competition.

"If he starts off hot, I've got to try and catch him," Porter said. "If I start off hot, he's got to try to catch me. But the majority of time, we're right there with each other.

"We want to see both of us have a lot of fun and do well, but you always want to one-up the guy, just for the bragging rights later on."

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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