Steelers special teams aide Ligashesky is fired

Ligashesky second assistant booted after a 9-7 season

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After two days of meetings, it appears that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is done making changes to his coaching staff. Now begins the process of finding replacements for two fired assistants.

Special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky, a McKees Rocks native, became the second assistant in as many days to be dismissed, joining offensive line coach Larry Zierlein.

The Steelers officially announced both firings yesterday in a brief news release.

The special teams were a major source of concern after the Steelers allowed four kickoff returns for touchdowns in a five-game span. The Steelers finished the regular season ranked 24th in the NFL in punt coverage, allowing an average of 9.8 yards per return; they were 30th in kickoff coverage, allowing an average of 24.3 yards per return.

But, during their Super Bowl season in 2008, the Steelers' coverage units were among the best in the league, ranking No. 1 in kick returns and No. 4 in punt returns.

It is not known who is being considered to replace Ligashesky, 46, but former Steelers special teams coach Bobby April (1994-95) is available. He waived the final two years of his contract with the Buffalo Bills, who fired their entire coaching staff this week, so he could be free to negotiate with another team.

Meantime, former quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson, who retired Tuesday after 33 seasons in the NFL, including 17 as an assistant coach, was at the Steelers' South Side facility yesterday to clean out his office.

Anderson, 61, spent three years with the Steelers as Ben Roethlisberger's position coach. Anderson will live full time in Hilton Head, S.C., where he has owned an offseason home for years.

"You know how you know it's just time? Well, it was time," Anderson said. "I really enjoyed my three years here. I had a blast."

NOTES -- The Steelers signed nine players to their offseason roster, including seven members of their 2009 practice squad and defensive tackle Scott Paxson. However, one of the players not signed is A.Q. Shipley, a former Penn State and Moon High School center who was on the practice squad. The practice-squad members signed to the offseason roster are running backs Justin Vincent and Isaac Redman, tight end Eugene Bright, wide receiver Jason Chery, safety Tuff Harris, defensive tackle Steve McClendon and linebacker Johnny Williams. Paxson, who spent time on the active roster and practice squad between 2006-08, was signed along with place-kicker Piotr Czech, who was cut in training camp last summer.

Gerry Dulac can be reached at . First Published January 8, 2010 5:00 AM


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