Cowher calls training camp a success
LATROBE, Pa. (AP) -- With only today's morning's walkthrough remaining, the Pittsburgh Steelers' training camp at St. Vincent College ended and Coach Bill Cowher dubbed it a success.
"It's been productive. I think we're establishing something," Cowher said. "I think we bonded a little bit up here and we're starting to come together as a team."
The bond took on a new meaning with an impromptu post-practice gesture Tuesday: The defensive players taped rookie cornerback Ricardo Colclough to the goal post and drenched him with ice water.
This year's second-round draft pick, Colclough is an up-and-coming player on an evolving defense. New defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau believes the rebuilt secondary is beginning to mesh.
"The coaching sessions helped us a great deal with the communication in the secondary," LeBeau said. "It also helps that it's Chris Hope's and Troy Polamalu's second year in the system. It may be their first year of playing full-time, but it's their second year in the system and that's a tremendous advantage in terms of experience."
Houston quarterbacks David Carr and Tony Banks combined for 13-of-17 passing for 99 yards against the new secondary Saturday. Cowher, though, wouldn't blame the high completion percentage on poor coverage during the Steelers' 38-3 win.
"I don't like to see quarterbacks sitting out there and having all day to throw. That to me is a problem," Cowher said. "I want to see some pressure."
The linebackers haven't had a sack or forced a turnover in two preseason games. Sacks and turnovers have been priorities for a team coming off all-time season lows under Cowher.
"Well, I think they (the linebackers) played pretty well," LeBeau said. "I think our rushing average was under 3.0 (2.6 yards-per-carry) last week, and in the first week it was barely over 3.0 (3.1). The linebackers have got to be doing all right when you get in those kinds of numbers.
"We always want more sacks and more turnovers, but we kind of like 38-3," he said of the score in Saturday's win.
Offensively, the Steelers are sorting through a competitive race at tailback and patching another hole in the offensive line. Both positions factored heavily into the team ranking 31st in the league in rushing last season.
Duce Staley is expected to take the starting tailback job away from Jerome Bettis, with Verron Haynes, Dante Brown and rookie speedster Willie Parker pushing for playing time. On the line, Keydrick Vincent has replaced the injured Kendall Simmons at right guard.
"In some things he's not going to be as effective as Kendall," said first-year offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. "And in other things maybe he'll be more effective because Keydrick's a big guy."
Whisenhunt is using the ideas he learned with the New York Jets under Dan Henning, who was tutored by Joe Gibbs with the Washington Redskins in the 1980s.
"A lot of their philosophy is very similar and it kind of mirrors what coach Cowher wants," Whisenhunt said. Cowher "has done a great job this camp of staying focused on getting that point of being more physical across, so it's made it easier for me to continue to hammer at that."