PITTSBURGH Lost amidst the wreckage of the Steelers' 30-17 loss Sunday night to the Oakland Raiders was the Steelers' lone major injury of the game, a dislocated elbow by Mike Schneck.

"> PITTSBURGH Lost amidst the wreckage of the Steelers' 30-17 loss Sunday night to the Oakland Raiders was the Steelers' lone major injury of the game, a dislocated elbow by Mike Schneck.

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TE Allred Stepping Up

<p style="margin-left: 3; margin-right: 3"><font size="2" face="Arial">PITTSBURGH Lost amidst the wreckage of the Steelers' 30-17 loss Sunday night to the Oakland Raiders was the Steelers' lone major injury of the game, a dislocated elbow by <a href="http://scout.theinsiders.com/a.z?s=68&amp;p=8&amp;c=1&amp;nid=291800&amp;yr=2002">Mike Schneck</a>.</font></p>


Considering Schneck is on the field for only five or six plays per game, the injury doesn't seem like it should be that big of a deal. But when you realize that the Steelers didn't exactly enter the season with a planned backup for Schneck, you see the conundrum the team has.


Do they try to fill the position from their own roster, or do the Steelers look outside and attempt to find someone who isn't already on the roster of one of the other 31 NFL teams? It's just the kind of thing the Steelers need to be doing while trying to figure out how to rebound from an 0-2 start.

Tight end John Allred, who handled the long-snapping duties after Schneck injured his elbow, will get the first opportunity to replace Schneck, who is expected to miss at least two games. If Allred fails, second-year linebacker Justin Kurpeikis, who has only been active for four games in his career, could get a look.


The problem is, before Sunday night, neither Allred or Kurpeikis had ever snapped in an NFL game before. "I had messed around with it a little bit on the sidelines, but I hadn't done it in live action or practice," said Allred. The Steelers hadn't planned on using Allred as Schneck's backup. Heck, they weren't even sure Allred was going to make the team coming out of training camp.


But, by a stroke of good fortune, they chose to keep four tight ends - Mark Bruener, Jerame Tuman, Allred, and Matt Cushing - for the regular season, giving them their backup long-snapper. Now, the player who is called Sunshine by his new teammates will get lots of coaching from Schneck, who beat out rookie Bob Jones in training camp to hold onto his job.


Jones was signed by the New York Giants the day the Steelers cut him. "I'm now the assistant special teams coach," Schneck joked. "Sunshine is from southern California, so he's really laid back. He'll handle it fine."


If not, things could get ugly when the Steelers line up to play Cleveland on Sept. 29 at Heinz Field. The Steelers attempted six field goals in their first meeting with Cleveland last season, making five. They needed every one of them in that game to defeat the Browns, 15-12 in overtime.


And while Allred said he is comfortable with the longer snaps needed for punts, he's not so sure about the shorter ones needed for field goals and extra points. He attempted just one short snap against the Raiders, a PAT in the third quarter.


"I wasn't worried so much about the long snap as much as the shorter ones. I hadn't done a lot of that," Allred said of the game against Oakland. "I thought I did it well enough. We made the kick, which was all that mattered. So I guess I did all right."


Odds and end zones
Next Sunday's game against Cleveland at Heinz Field will be the 100th meeting between the two teams. Cleveland leads the series, 54-45, but the Steelers have won 10 of the past 12 meetings. ... With his three sacks this season, Joey Porter now has 24.5, moving him into a tie with Gerald Williams for 15th on the Steelers all-time list.

 

--Dale Lolley

 

 

 


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