Notebook: Reed not slumping

A Steelers-Jaguars game that comes down to a special-teams play wouldn't be a surprise. That's why the 32nd-ranked punt coverage team concerns the Steelers. But what about kicker Jeff Reed?

The player who kicked six field goals at Jacksonville in his second pro game is in a bit of a slump. After missing three of seven preseason field-goal attempts, Reed missed his only attempt in the opener – a 44-yarder that would've given the Pittsburgh Steelers a seven-point lead with 3:13 left in the game.

Is Reed, an 82 percent kicker in four-plus seasons, in a slump?

"To me, there is no such thing as a slump," Reed said. "But the thing about it is I'm human. You can't control everything. Even on the most perfect day or in a dome you can feel great and still miss a field goal. I don't believe in slumps. There are times when you're better than others, and definitely last game was not my best game, but it was Game 1, we won and it's time to move on."

Some of Reed's preseason misses were understandable. At Philadelphia, he missed from 50 and 47 yards, and at Arizona he missed a 54-yarder. He was good from 49, 32, 40 and 27.

"I think my camp was probably the best one I ever had," he said. "I felt really strong. I kicked the ball off really well. Yeah, I missed a couple but if you look at it I got some experience from a long distance, so it's better if we do need a game-winner over 50 yards I'm more comfortable out there. I may not have done it in the game but I know what I did wrong and it's easily correctable.

"Last game was from the mid-forties and you've got to make those. If your team gives you position inside of 50 yards, it's got to be a guaranteed three points. I didn't come through for us but luckily, the way our offense and defense were playing, we were fine."

ANOTHER REID SITS

Rookie third-rounder Willie Reid fielded 13 of the 17 punts directed at the Steelers in the preseason. He averaged 8.8 yards per return and didn't fumble. Reid was expecting to be the first replacement for Antwaan Randle El in the opener, but was instead deactivated because of what Coach Bill Cowher said was a numbers problem. In place of Reid, Cowher used Ricardo Colclough and rookie first-rounder Santonio Holmes. Colclough muffed one return and returned another punt three yards. Holmes returned his punt for two yards after fielding it at his own . Reid said he was surprised by the decision, which was made at the beginning of the week, but of course wasn't critical.

"I think I had a good camp, a good preseason," he said. "I put together some nice little things in the game but it's just one of those things, a process you've got to go through."

YOUNG STARS IN COMMON

Two of the Steelers' offensive stars last week were Willie Parker and Nate Washington. Both came to the team as undrafted rookies – Parker in 2004 and Washington in 2005 – and it's not lost on either one.

"A lot of guys don't really get close with free agents," said Parker. "The thinking is, he's no longer going to be here when it's the final cut so no need getting too close to him. That's the vibe I used to get. So that's one thing I want to do is just talk to the younger guys.

"When a free agent came in and caught my eye, I went to him and talked to him, something somebody didn't really do to me. Bus didn't come directly to me until I started making plays on the field and stuff like that. So I saw this guy out there making plays and so I went to him and tried to hang around with him and try to talk to him and let him know the stuff somebody didn't teach me or made me look out for. That guy was Nate Washington. I used to go to him, talk to him, tell him the ins and outs and stuff."

"It helped me a lot," said Washington. "It made me a lot more relaxed off the field. I was trying to fit in with the guys and he'd tell me to make sure I was a locker-room type of guy because coaches like that. That what I was trying to do, but at the same time I was kind of shy when it came to cracking conversation. He helped me out a lot with that, plus I was in the midst of all the linebackers in the corner over there, and the DBs. They were always picking on me – ‘young buck you need to bring some things for our lockers.' It was kind of cool once I got in with all the guys."

HANDS OF STONE

After intercepting Daunte Culpepper last week, Joey Porter said, "If I put my hands on it I've got to come away with it because if I don't I hear it all week from the guys -- just like we'll get on Ike for dropping that easy pick that he had. He'll hear it for a whole week."

Ike Taylor, though, hasn't heard from anyone.

"They want me to cover and that's what I'm doing," said Taylor. "They haven't come around to it. As long as they haven't come around to it, I'm cool with it."

Taylor shows soft hands – in practice. But after dropping at least 10 balls last year, he's off to a rocky start to this season.

"For some reason I don't look into it all the way," he said.

Is it a mental block? Is it snowballing?

"No," Taylor said. "I'll finish strong."


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