Offense takes goal line ... for now

The offense, behind the powerful lead blocking of Doug Legursky, edged the defense in the goal line drill Sunday night. But will it stand? Also, Dick LeBeau update.

LATROBE – In the case of goal-line wins and losses, Sunday night's practice highlight won't be determined until the tape is reviewed Monday morning.

But as it stood at press-time, the offense scored a surprising 4-3 win over the defense. However, as James Farrior said, "the tape won't lie."

The play in question was the fifth goal-line play with the third units on the field. Tailback Dwayne Wright bounced a carry outside and rookie linebacker Sly Sylvester appeared to stand Wright up and ride him out of bounds. Strength coach Garrett Giemont, acting as referee, called it a touchdown.

The defense complained about the call to reporters, but nose tackle Casey Hampton instead bemoaned the defense's performance after it allowed one score in two first-team attempts, one score in two second-team attempts, and a pair of touchdowns in three third-team attempts.

"I stuffed the first one, if only someone would've scraped and made the tackle," Hampton said of Isaac Redman's touchdown on the first carry from the 1.5-yard line.

"I don't know what the hell's going on out there. We've never done that poorly on defense. We've got to get better than that. That should've never happened. That wasn't us."

Last year, in the first goal-line session of camp, the first-team defense stuffed Rashard Mendenhall (twice) and Frank Summers in three attempts. But yesterday, Redman scored after side-stepping Hampton up the middle. Redman was stopped on the second carry.

Rookie Jonathan Dwyer scored easily on his first carry against the second-team defense, but nose tackle Steve McClendon stopped Dwyer on his second carry.

After Wright's controversial score, Justin Vincent scored the fourth offensive touchdown, before Dwyer was stopped by Renauld Williams on the final carry.

"I thought (the running backs) represented themselves well," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "I thought they exercised great vision. They found some holes and finished some runs off. A few of the young ones got to get their pad level down a little bit. Jonathan Dwyer, I like the way he's hitting the holes but he's got to roll his shoulders forward and reduce some hit surface for his protection and the protection of the football."


Last time anyone saw 6-1, 323-pound center Doug Legursky at fullback, he was helping Mendenhall gain 165 yards against the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 4 last year.

The Steelers finally got back to using Legursky yesterday at their weakest position, fullback, and he responded with blocks that could be heard at the top of the hill.

With Frank Summers on the sideline, Legursky alternated with motioning tight ends Sean McHugh and David Johnson in the backfield and was clearly the superior lead blocker. Legurksy was part of three snaps and the offense scored all three times. That stat will stand even if the replay takes away Wright's score.

"He's got great short-yardage quicks," Tomlin said. "It's the same thing that makes him a functional center. It really kind of negates his lack of stature, if you will. He's got great short-area quickness, a good leverage guy."

Joining Summers on the sideline all practice were James Harrison and Jonathan Scott. Summers and Scott are recovering from concussions. Harrison was given the day off, as was Mike Wallace, whose girlfriend gave birth to his first child.


Dick LeBeau remained in Canton to take part in Hall of Fame Game halftime activities, and Tomlin said his just-enshrined defensive coordinator can take as much time as he wants.

"I want him to soak it up and enjoy it," Tomlin said. "We'll be here when he gets here. By no means are we going to put him on the clock. He can wave and do as much as he likes to."

The Steelers packed six buses Saturday to see LeBeau's induction. The buses rolled three hours each way, and the team left immediately after LeBeau's speech, which was first on the Canton docket.

"It was awesome," Tomlin said. "I haven't had a negative comment whatsoever. I think everyone understood the gravity, what we had the opportunity to be a part of and see. It was really just an awesome, awesome evening and we appreciate Dick allowing us to share with him."

Anything about the speech that Tomlin particularly enjoyed?

"It was just Dick," he said. "It was heartfelt. It was who he is. It was a great opportunity for people who don't know him to get a glimpse of what he's about, but that's the guy we see and enjoy on a day-to-day basis."

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