Steelers Notebook: Special teams put on notice
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Mike Tomlin told the rest of his team just how serious he is about improving his special teams when he cut cornerback Ricardo Colclough yesterday.
Colclough, a second-round draft pick in 2004, blew an assignment in Cincinnati that helped Glen Holt return a kickoff 42 yards for the Bengals. Apparently, Tomlin had seen enough of Colclough and cut him loose, replacing him with Anthony Madison, one of their best special-teams players as a rookie last season.
The Steelers announced the release after Tomlin's news conference, and the coach was unavailable for comment.
"This is the first year for us as a staff and a football team, but we have more continuity on offense and defense than we have in the kicking game," Tomlin said earlier.
Colclough not only played poorly on special teams, but he was a bust as a second-round pick from tiny Tusculum. Not only did the Steelers draft him in the second round, but they traded away their fourth-round choice to move higher in the second round, the 38th overall choice in the 2004 draft.
He never started a game in the 33 he played. He played in only three last year before he was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury.
Rookie William Gay, a fifth-round draft pick, moved ahead of him on the depth chart at the start of the season as the No. 4 corner.
Colclough was not active until after Bryant McFadden severely sprained his ankle Sept. 30. Since then, Colclough has played only on special teams, although not well enough.
Tomlin criticized the kick coverage team yesterday.
"We have to do a better job in the kicking game in terms of covering kicks," Tomlin said. "We addressed that yesterday with the team and look forward to getting out and working this week in that area specifically ... ."
Madison made the team as an undrafted rookie from Alabama last season. He was a terror on special teams in training camp.
Colclough had a $510,000 salary in 2007 as part of the four-year contract he signed as a rookie. The Steelers are not liable to pay him the rest of this year's salary.
Smith, Kreider could return
Defensive end Aaron Smith has a chance to return to start for the Steelers against the Baltimore Ravens Monday night.
Tomlin said Smith's rehabilitation from a sprained ligament in his left knee has gone well and he "may have a chance" to play.
Smith, one of the team's best defensive players for years, missed his first game Sunday against Cincinnati, breaking a string of 115 consecutive games played.
Also, fullback Dan Kreider has recovered well from a sprained ankle that knocked him out of the game in Cincinnati and there also is a chance he will play Monday night, Tomlin said.
The news was not so good on backup tight end Jerame Tuman. He played in Cincinnati after missing the previous game in Denver with a back sprain. Tomlin said he's back on the injury list with his injured back and doubtful for the game against the Ravens.
A discussion has raged around the NFL about whether the New England Patriots are running up scores this season, reaching a crescendo as they pasted the Washington Redskins, 52-7, Sunday.
Tomlin, asked if teams run up the score in the NFL, said, "It's not their job to keep the score down; it's their opponent's job to keep the score down.
"I know if someone was running the score up on us, I would be concerned about what it is we're doing and not necessarily what it is that they're doing."
It brought back a similar comment Chuck Noll once uttered when he was asked why he kept quarterback Terry Bradshaw in a lopsided game. Noll said he did not spot his opponents waving any white flag of surrender.
First Published October 31, 2007 3:59 am