Notebook: Steelers brush off bomb threat

PITTSBURGH – A threat that seven NFL stadiums -- including the Georgia Dome -- will be attacked with radiological dirty bombs Sunday has been debunked by the Department of Homeland Security.

A web site posted the threat on Oct. 12. One of the stadiums cited in the threat is the Georgia Dome, where the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. However, Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said the team is not concerned.

"The Department of Homeland Security has talked to the league and does not believe it's a credible threat," Lockett said. "There are also a lot of security measures in place already, such as a secure perimeter, bag checks, pat downs, and that's why they're in place, for this type of situation."

According to a report by the Associated Press, the threat, titled "New Attack on America Be Afraid," mentioned threats on NFL stadiums in New York, Miami, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland, along with Atlanta, this weekend. The NFL was alerted of the message, but Homeland Security said it viewed the threat "with strong skepticism" and left the nation's alert level at yellow, which signals an elevated risk of an attack. Lockett was asked by a local TV reporter if Steelers leadership was "frightened."

"No," said Lockett. "We're going with what the Department of Homeland Security has to say and we believe in what they have to say."

THE NEW VICK

Cedrick Wilson finally got a chance to play his favorite position on Wednesday, but he wasn't his old self. He was Michael Vick.

"I was just giving the defense a look," said Wilson, a record-setting quarterback in high school. "Coach asked me to, and it helped sharpen up on my QB skills a little bit."

Wilson was the MVP of the Tennessee state championship game as a high-school senior and was recruited by the University of Tennessee as a quarterback. He remained at the position for two years before moving to wide receiver.

"I started getting faster my junior year in college," he said. "My junior year I started playing receiver. In high school all I did was throw. I never ran. I never played receiver or running back."

He's now the Steelers' starting split end but holds hope he will soon be able to throw a pass out of a trick play, a la Antwaan Randle El. Playing Vick in practice helped Wilson show off his skills.

"It was pretty fun," he said. "Our defense probably didn't like it because I was running around a lot. That's what he's going to do." Wilson also performed the duty for the San Francisco 49ers the week before they hosted the Falcons to open the 2004 season. The Falcons won, 21-19.

CUT BLOCKING

The Falcons led the NFL in rushing the past two years and are leading the league again. New offensive line coach Alex Gibbs is hailed as one of the reasons. Gibbs came from Denver and brought his cut-blocking techniques with him. It's a controversial method. Some go so far as to call it dirty.

"You can't call it dirty. It's legal," said Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel. "If it was dirty it'd be illegal, but it's part of their scheme. They do it on the back side. We have to be ready for it."

Does it work?

"Yeah it works," Keisel said. "They're the top-rushing team in the league."

But the Falcons' line will be down a man. Left guard Matt Lehr, considered the line's weak link, was suspended Tuesday for four games for breaching the league's substance abuse policy.

LEAD BLOCKING

Verron Haynes is the Steelers' backup fullback ... on paper. On Sunday, the first replacement at fullback for injured Dan Kreider was tight end Heath Miller and he was effective.

"I'm working on it," said Miller. "Danny's trying to coach me up, so I'm listening to everything he's got to say. But it's fun to mix things up a little bit. When we use two tight ends and one back it's a lot of the same plays, so it's pretty easy to transition over."

Miller also receives tips from offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who was an H-back under Dan Henning at Atlanta and pioneered the lead-blocking role for tight ends back in the late 1980s. Now, even college teams motion their tight ends to fullback to serve as lead blockers.

"True fullbacks seem to be a dying breed," Miller said. "Very rarely do you see a fullback like Danny."

Kreider, meanwhile, missed Wednesday's practice with an ankle sprain, but is listed as probable for Sunday's game.


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