PITTSBURGH – Over the years, few opposing wide receivers caused the Steelers as many problems as Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith.
Then again, the Steelers weren't alone among the group of teams who
Smith had terrorized over the years.
That's why when Smith abruptly announced his retirement this spring,
you can bet there were more than one sigh of relief around the NFL.
"Jimmy Smith was just one of those guys who ran good routes and was
sneaky fast," said Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend. "I won't miss
seeing him out there. But these guys they have now are pretty good
Monday night against the Steelers, the Jaguars' other receivers will
get a chance to show Pittsburgh's secondary how much they learned from
Smith, who finished his NFL career with 862 receptions for 12,287
"We know that not one of us are going to replace (Smith)," Jaguars
wideout Ernest Wilford told reporters this summer. "So we know all
three of us have to come together and do it."
The problem is, coming into this season, they hadn't done it a whole
Wilford was the team's second-leading receiver last season with 45
receptions for 734 yards and seven touchdowns, while Matt Jones, a
former college quarterback, finished his rookie season with 42 catches
for 526 yards and five scores. Reggie Williams, the team's top draft
pick in 2004, had 39 catches for 501 yards and no touchdowns.
Combined, they have just five NFL seasons under their belts. But the
one thing they do have is size.
Wilford and Williams are both 6-4. Jones is 6-6. Though Ike Taylor is
6-1, the rest of the Steelers cornerbacks are 6-0 or smaller.
"If you don't get your position and get your head around, these guys
are going to go up and get the ball," said Steelers head coach Bill
Cowher. "It's going to test our ability to be disciplined in coverage.
At the same time, we're going to have to be physical, because that's
how these guys like to play."
Dallas found out the hard way in Jacksonville's 24-17 win over the
Cowboys last week, as the threesome combined for 14 receptions for 176
yards and a touchdown.
"They're all big guys," said Steelers cornerback Ricardo Colclough. "It
tests your ability to make plays when you go up against guys like this
because sometimes you can have good coverage and the quarterback can
just throw the ball up and let them go up and get it."
Williams did just that in catching the team's lone touchdown pass last
week. Though Dallas' cornerback had position on him, Williams jumped
over the top of him to come down with the ball.
"We're going to need to be physical with these guys," said Townsend.
"You have to bump them at the line of scrimmage and stay on top of them
all the time. Otherwise, they will try to be more physical than you. That's their game."
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter
Towering trio presents big test
Steel City Insider Top Stories
Notebook: Green Impressing Steelers CoachesOnly two practices in and Ladarius Green proving self; also, optimism heats up for return of Roethlisberger, more.
Steel City InsiderYesterday at 3:51 PM
All-22 Review: Pats-SteelersJon Ledyard breaks down tape of the Steelers' loss to the Patriots.
Steel City InsiderYesterday at 4:28 AM
Notebook: Bye Week BumpAlso, position coaches grilled on their defensive units.
Steel City InsiderTuesday at 4:53 PM
Inside The Locker RoomUp close and personal the day after a Steelers game.
Steel City InsiderTuesday at 5:09 AM
Craig Wolfley's View From The SidelineFeeling of a game the Steelers could've won in spite of long odds.
Steel City InsiderTuesday at 2:46 AM