Saturday (afternoon) Report 8/03/02

LATROBE -- The Steelers defense evened up its series with the offense in the hunt for the mythical national goal-line championship - or something along those lines - in the brutal heat at St. Vincent College. The offense couldn't score in two series, one of which included a second-and-goal play from the one. It all started when Kendrell Bell hit Jerome Bettis in the hole ...

... but Bettis turned the tables on Bell, who made a name for himself by crushing Bettis at the same spot exactly 51 weeks ago. Bettis rolled out of the hit this time and advanced the ball to the one. But on second down, Bell hunted Bettis down. Bettis took the handoff and bounced it outside to his left, where Bell took him down for a four-yard loss. On third down, Lee Flowers batted away a wobbly Kordell Stewart pass intended for fullback Dan Kreider. On fourth down, Flowers sacked Stewart for a nine-yard loss on an attempted play-action pass.

On the second series, a blitzing Chris Hope batted a Tommy Maddox pass into the air and Larry Foote made an interception and returned it for a touchdown.

The offense and defense are now knotted after four goal-line series, which start at the five-yard line. The third chapter of what's becoming the highlight of camp will take place next Saturday Aug. 10.

Saturday's practice began with more special teams, this time kickoff coverage. New ST coach Kevin Spencer is an outstanding communicator and is interesting to watch in action. As you might imagine, a line like "Tebucky Jones does it a helluva lot better than that" has the players hanging on his words.

In team drills, Bettis had his best day of practice, even though heat is having a draining effect on all of the players. Bettis, though, was focused and ran crisply for the first time. However, his shiftiness must still be proven. Coach Bill Cowher last week finally admitted that Bettis' groin had been torn. As for outside threat Amos Zereoue, the RB continues to look flat in recovering from an emergency liver problem last spring.

In line drills, Bell looked better at DE, zipping past what appeared to be a disinterested Wayne Gandy. It's not a slap - the heat is draining. Chukky Okobi got into a fight with Scott Schultz. Okobi looked like he was headed for another fight later, this time with Rameel Connor. But when Connor appeared to be in position to give Okobi a blow, he instead rubbed Okobi's belly and everyone got a nice chuckle. Also noteworthy, Kendall Simmons was bulldozed back by Brett Keisel, but Simmons snatched Keisel, driving him face first into the dirt.

In the second set of team drills, Simmons ran with the first team at RG while Oliver Ross had a "tweaked elbow", and the first line didn't miss a beat. By the way, Marvel Smith had his best practice at RT. After practice, line coach Russ Grimm said of Simmons, "He's getting there." And you can believe all three of those words. Ross, BTW, returned to RG for the goal-line series.

The catch of the day belonged to Matt Cushing, who dove for a Stewart pass in the end zone.

Cowher cancelled Sunday's practice. They'll return to the field Monday afternoon.

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