Notebook: Another top kick returner cometh

The Steelers face the Miami Dolphins tonight and they must stop rookie return man Ted Ginn. Other juicy notebook items follow.

PITTSBURGH – Ted Ginn might not be the best return man in the league, but he could be the best known.

Even casual fans know of Ginn, the former Ohio State Buckeye who injured his foot returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown in last season's national championship game.

Ginn's with the Miami Dolphins, where he's fourth in the NFL with a 12.5 punt-return average and 19th with a 23.9 kickoff-return average. He had returned two kicks for touchdowns that were called back before breaking loose for an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

He's a legitimate 4.3 burner and the rookie is beginning to hit his stride in the NFL.

"His primary focus this season was going to be the return game. He's taken three back the distance," said Dolphins Coach Cam Cameron. "He's also developing as a receiver."

The Dolphins traded Chris Chambers on Oct. 16 and put Ginn in the starting lineup the following week. In the last four games he's caught nine passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, but his speed in the return game is the primary concern for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who rank 18th in kickoff coverage and 26th in punt coverage.

Last week against then-league leader Leon Washington, the Steelers had their best kickoff-coverage average of the season. They allowed the New York Jets 5.7 yards per return. But their pop-up kickoffs allowed the Jets to start, on average, at the 29-yard line. Only four of their game averages were worse.

"I'm sure they'll have a plan," Cameron said. "They've done several things in their kickoff game and in their punt game, so I'm sure they'll have a plan."

MINUS A FEW STARS

The Steelers are hoping they can get past the Dolphins without two of their best players – WR Santonio Holmes and SS Troy Polamalu.

Holmes injured his ankle with 12-plus minutes left in regulation last week. Without him, the Steelers completed only a six-yard pass, fumbled twice, and were sacked three times. It's caused those same old whispers to crop up that Hines Ward can't get open without a big-play man on the other side of the field.

"Is that what they're saying? Again?" Ward said with his signature smile. "I guess that'll never end."

So why was Ben Roethlisberger having such a difficult time getting a pass off without Holmes in the game?

"I was open," Ward said. "Single-high receiver, you pick a side. He chose Heath (Miller)'s side. I was open and thought the ball was coming, but he likes his chances on Heath with the strong safety. But when he chose Heath's side, three linebackers dropped on him. Heath's becoming a touchdown machine, so they're starting to play him. That's how it is."

On the other side of the ball, veteran Tyrone Carter will replace Polamalu. Carter will line up next to another injury replacement, Anthony Smith.

And, yes, the team's veterans are aware of the big "knucklehead factor" involved with the hyper-aggressive taunting specialists playing the entire game at the safety spots.

"Well, emotions are part of the game," said cornerback Deshea Townsend. "I'll talk to them and try to hold them back a little bit, but you've got to let them play. At that position, you have to have personality.

"One thing about corners and secondary guys, you could meet a thousand of them and all thousand will be different. There's the personality of the position. But I'll keep them calm. In certain situations you have to let them play, but if it's a little bit after the whistle I'll make sure to run and get them."

CENTER OF ATTENTION

Sean Mahan is taking the brunt of criticism this week for the offensive line's performance against the Jets, but he's proving himself to be a stand-up guy, answering all questions immediately after the game and throughout the week from a steady stream of reporters.

"I don't think I've played to my potential yet, but I don't think it's anything to be alarmed about," he said. "I'm definitely getting better every week."

Mahan was the only new starter acquired through free agency this off-season. Coach Mike Tomlin knew Mahan from their days at Tampa Bay. Mahan was asked if he senses the scrutiny from fans in Pittsburgh more so than he did in Tampa.

"I think every city's different," said the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native. "I think our fan base is very loyal and very involved. They want to see the Steelers win, so obviously you disappoint everyone when you lose. But no matter what, they're behind us, so we're going to make sure we win and don't let them down anymore."

QUOTABLE

Right tackle Willie Colon on whether Joey Porter looks as bad on tape as his critics claim:

"No. That's what's really bothering me. He looks just like Joey did when he was here. He's getting after the passer. He's ball-hawking it from the backside. I think the criticism he's getting is very unfair. I'll put my neck out there and say that: He's not getting a fair deal."


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nPITTSBURGH – Ted Ginn might not be the best return man in the league, but he could be the best known.\r\n

Even casual fans know of Ginn, the former Ohio State Buckeye who injured his foot returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown in last season's national championship game.\r\n

Ginn's with the Miami Dolphins, where he's fourth in the NFL with a 12.5 punt-return average and 19th with a 23.9 kickoff-return average. He had returned two kicks for touchdowns that were called back before breaking loose for an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. \r\n

He's a legitimate 4.3 burner and the rookie is beginning to hit his stride in the NFL.\r\n

\"His primary focus this season was going to be the return game. He's taken three back the distance,\" said Dolphins Coach Cam Cameron. \"He's also developing as a receiver.\"\r\n

The Dolphins traded Chris Chambers on Oct. 16 and put Ginn in the starting lineup the following week. In the last four games he's caught nine passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, but his speed in the return game is the primary concern for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who rank 18th in kickoff coverage and 26th in punt coverage.\r\n

Last week against then-league leader Leon Washington, the Steelers had their best kickoff-coverage average of the season. They allowed the New York Jets 5.7 yards per return. But their pop-up kickoffs allowed the Jets to start, on average, at the 29-yard line. Only four of their game averages were worse.\r\n

\"I'm sure they'll have a plan,\" Cameron said. \"They've done several things in their kickoff game and in their punt game, so I'm sure they'll have a plan.\"\r\n

MINUS A FEW STARS\r\n

The Steelers are hoping they can get past the Dolphins without two of their best players – WR Santonio Holmes and SS Troy Polamalu.\r\n

Holmes injured his ankle with 12-plus minutes left in regulation last week. Without him, the Steelers completed only a six-yard pass, fumbled twice, and were sacked three times. It's caused those same old whispers to crop up that Hines Ward can't get open without a big-play man on the other side of the field.\r\n

\"Is that what they're saying? Again?\" Ward said with his signature smile. \"I guess that'll never end.\"\r\n

So why was Ben Roethlisberger having such a difficult time getting a pass off without Holmes in the game?\r\n

\"I was open,\" Ward said. \"Single-high receiver, you pick a side. He chose Heath (Miller)'s side. I was open and thought the ball was coming, but he likes his chances on Heath with the strong safety. But when he chose Heath's side, three linebackers dropped on him. Heath's becoming a touchdown machine, so they're starting to play him. That's how it is.\"\r\n

On the other side of the ball, veteran Tyrone Carter will replace Polamalu. Carter will line up next to another injury replacement, Anthony Smith. \r\n

And, yes, the team's veterans are aware of the big \"knucklehead factor\" involved with the hyper-aggressive taunting specialists playing the entire game at the safety spots.\r\n

\"Well, emotions are part of the game,\" said cornerback Deshea Townsend. \"I'll talk to them and try to hold them back a little bit, but you've got to let them play. At that position, you have to have personality. \r\n

\"One thing about corners and secondary guys, you could meet a thousand of them and all thousand will be different. There's the personality of the position. But I'll keep them calm. In certain situations you have to let them play, but if it's a little bit after the whistle I'll make sure to run and get them.\"\r\n

CENTER OF ATTENTION\r\n

Sean Mahan is taking the brunt of criticism this week for the offensive line's performance against the Jets, but he's proving himself to be a stand-up guy, answering all questions immediately after the game and throughout the week from a steady stream of reporters.\r\n

\"I don't think I've played to my potential yet, but I don't think it's anything to be alarmed about,\" he said. \"I'm definitely getting better every week.\"\r\n

Mahan was the only new starter acquired through free agency this off-season. Coach Mike Tomlin knew Mahan from their days at Tampa Bay. Mahan was asked if he senses the scrutiny from fans in Pittsburgh more so than he did in Tampa.\r\n

\"I think every city's different,\" said the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native. \"I think our fan base is very loyal and very involved. They want to see the Steelers win, so obviously you disappoint everyone when you lose. But no matter what, they're behind us, so we're going to make sure we win and don't let them down anymore.\"\r\n

QUOTABLE\r\n

Right tackle Willie Colon on whether Joey Porter looks as bad on tape as his critics claim:\r\n

\"No. That's what's really bothering me. He looks just like Joey did when he was here. He's getting after the passer. He's ball-hawking it from the backside. I think the criticism he's getting is very unfair. I'll put my neck out there and say that: He's not getting a fair deal.\"\r\n\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" PITTSBURGH – Ted Ginn might not be the best return man in the league, but he could be the best known.

Even casual fans know of Ginn, the former Ohio State Buckeye who injured his foot returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown in last season's national championship game.

Ginn's with the Miami Dolphins, where he's fourth in the NFL with a 12.5 punt-return average and 19th with a 23.9 kickoff-return average. He had returned two kicks for touchdowns that were called back before breaking loose for an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

He's a legitimate 4.3 burner and the rookie is beginning to hit his stride in the NFL.

\"His primary focus this season was going to be the return game. He's taken three back the distance,\" said Dolphins Coach Cam Cameron. \"He's also developing as a receiver.\"

The Dolphins traded Chris Chambers on Oct. 16 and put Ginn in the starting lineup the following week. In the last four games he's caught nine passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, but his speed in the return game is the primary concern for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who rank 18th in kickoff coverage and 26th in punt coverage.

Last week against then-league leader Leon Washington, the Steelers had their best kickoff-coverage average of the season. They allowed the New York Jets 5.7 yards per return. But their pop-up kickoffs allowed the Jets to start, on average, at the 29-yard line. Only four of their game averages were worse.

\"I'm sure they'll have a plan,\" Cameron said. \"They've done several things in their kickoff game and in their punt game, so I'm sure they'll have a plan.\"

The Steelers are hoping they can get past the Dolphins without two of their best players – WR Santonio Holmes and SS Troy Polamalu.

Holmes injured his ankle with 12-plus minutes left in regulation last week. Without him, the Steelers completed only a six-yard pass, fumbled twice, and were sacked three times. It's caused those same old whispers to crop up that Hines Ward can't get open without a big-play man on the other side of the field.

\"Is that what they're saying? Again?\" Ward said with his signature smile. \"I guess that'll never end.\"

So why was Ben Roethlisberger having such a difficult time getting a pass off without Holmes in the game?

\"I was open,\" Ward said. \"Single-high receiver, you pick a side. He chose Heath (Miller)'s side. I was open and thought the ball was coming, but he likes his chances on Heath with the strong safety. But when he chose Heath's side, three linebackers dropped on him. Heath's becoming a touchdown machine, so they're starting to play him. That's how it is.\"

On the other side of the ball, veteran Tyrone Carter will replace Polamalu. Carter will line up next to another injury replacement, Anthony Smith.

And, yes, the team's veterans are aware of the big \"knucklehead factor\" involved with the hyper-aggressive taunting specialists playing the entire game at the safety spots.

\"Well, emotions are part of the game,\" said cornerback Deshea Townsend. \"I'll talk to them and try to hold them back a little bit, but you've got to let them play. At that position, you have to have personality.

\"One thing about corners and secondary guys, you could meet a thousand of them and all thousand will be different. There's the personality of the position. But I'll keep them calm. In certain situations you have to let them play, but if it's a little bit after the whistle I'll make sure to run and get them.\"

Sean Mahan is taking the brunt of criticism this week for the offensive line's performance against the Jets, but he's proving himself to be a stand-up guy, answering all questions immediately after the game and throughout the week from a steady stream of reporters.

\"I don't think I've played to my potential yet, but I don't think it's anything to be alarmed about,\" he said. \"I'm definitely getting better every week.\"

Mahan was the only new starter acquired through free agency this off-season. Coach Mike Tomlin knew Mahan from their days at Tampa Bay. Mahan was asked if he senses the scrutiny from fans in Pittsburgh more so than he did in Tampa.

\"I think every city's different,\" said the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native. \"I think our fan base is very loyal and very involved. They want to see the Steelers win, so obviously you disappoint everyone when you lose. But no matter what, they're behind us, so we're going to make sure we win and don't let them down anymore.\"

Right tackle Willie Colon on whether Joey Porter looks as bad on tape as his critics claim:

\"No. That's what's really bothering me. He looks just like Joey did when he was here. He's getting after the passer. He's ball-hawking it from the backside. I think the criticism he's getting is very unfair. I'll put my neck out there and say that: He's not getting a fair deal.\" ","skipOnMobile":false,"media":[],"dateOverride":"2007-11-25T15:49:00","authorOverride":"Jim Wexell","role":"SteelCityInsider.com","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:499679]","mainImage":{},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:499679]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"182","name":"Pittsburgh 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