Steelers Notebook: Hurry-up offense passes 1st test

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Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon got all the work at quarterback when coach Mike Tomlin ran a hurry-up offense with some wrinkles Thursday afternoon.

A new NFL rule will position the umpire behind the offensive backfield -- moving him from his old spot behind or sometimes next to the inside linebackers -- for safety reasons.

That move would seem to be a subtle one except when a team moves into its hurry-up offense. It will take the umpire more time to run from behind the offensive backfield downfield to where a pass has been completed to spot it, and that is what Tomlin wanted his team to see Thursday with NFL officials working practice at Saint Vincent College.

"We worked the five-minute, hurry-up offense as if we were down two scores," Tomlin said. "Just wanted to see logistically how the positioning of the umpire was going to affect the game in those situations."

And?

"The reality is you're going to lose some plays. The spotting of the ball isn't going to be as quick as it would be [previously] on balls that are 10, 20 yards downfield in the middle of the field and you do not utilize a timeout."

Leftwich and Dixon looked sharp in the two-minute drill, although only Leftwich guided the first team in for a touchdown, moving 77 yards in nine plays. Dixon ran the second team and completed 6 of his 9 passes.

Night practice on schedule

Practice will begin at 7 p.m. today at Latrobe Stadium, preceded by a 15-minute autograph session. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for youths under 18 and those over 65. Children under 12 are free with a parent. Gates open at 5 p.m. Proceeds benefit the athletic program at Greater Latrobe School District.

The Westmoreland County Food Bank will collect non-perishable food and household items. There will be fireworks after practice.

Quick hits

Two offensive tackles, Tony Hills (stinger) and Jonathan Scott (possible concussion) joined the injured. ... Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau missed practice Thursday and will miss one again tonight because he had to attend activities in Canton, Ohio, before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday evening. LeBeau prided himself on never missing a practice as a player or coach. The Steelers will leave Saint Vincent en masse on buses Saturday afternoon to attend the ceremony. "Dick is a special guy," Tomlin said. "It's an honor that's well deserved, and I'm glad we're going to have an opportunity to go up there and be part of it in a small way."


Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com .


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