Advertisement

 PITTSBURGH (AP) -Joshua Cribbs makes the Pittsburgh Steelers' coaching staff work a lot of overtime hours.
Not just during the two weeks the Browns and Steelers play each season, either. He also forces the Steelers to devote extra time to him in January, February and March.
The Steelers' kick coverage units, among the NFL's worst in recent seasons, usually get an extra workout from Cribbs. He returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown against them in 2006, another for a 100 yards and a TD last season - and, in that same game, had a 90-yarder that set up another score.
Only three other NFL teams allowed more than the three kick return touchdowns the Steelers permitted in 2006 and 2007, or gave up more yards per punt return than Pittsburgh did.
ighing how to make their special teams better.
Thank you, Joshua Cribbs, who goes against Pittsburgh for the first time this season on Sunday night.
``We had our issues in kick coverage and those two returns he had (in 2007) were a part of it,'' Tomlin said. ``We're just looking to get better, not necessarily reacting to specific plays. That was a phase of our football team that needs improvement.''
The Steelers might find out in a hurry how well they've addressed those problems.
Their special teams took a big hit when punter Daniel Sepulveda, the Steelers' rookie of the year in 2007, went down for the season with a knee injury on the first full day of training camp.
His replacement, Mitch Berger, averaged 43 yards on three punts, with 5 yards in returns last Sunday against Houston, but he wasn't kicking to Cribbs.
Cribbs has five kick return scores since his rookie season in 2005, making him the league's second-most prolific returner behind the Bears' Devin Hester, who has 11 return TDs since 2006.
``We know what he's capable of, and we expect to see him on Sunday night,'' Tomlin said of Cribbs. ``No question what he did to us in the past was very critical in terms of how the game played out.''
the AFC North.
The Steelers' kick coverage teams got off to an encouraging start last weekend, holding Houston's Andre' Davis to an 18.7 average on kickoff returns, down from his 30.3 average of last season.
Despite the annual cries that the Steelers should put more starters on special teams, free agent rookie Donovan Woods had three tackles on kicking plays against Houston. Another addition, linebacker Keyaron Fox, was signed as a free agent mostly because of his strong special teams play.
Against Houston, special teams coaches Bob Ligashesky and Amos Jones had kicker Jeff Reed mix up his kickoffs, not only directionally but also the way he struck the ball. By accident, one ball that popped up turned out to be the only kickoff that wasn't returned.
``I hide my steps so they won't know exactly what I'm doing when I kick off,'' Reed said.
The Steelers also changed up their kick returners this season. Although the Steelers have averaged 11 victories per season since 2004, only four other teams have had fewer kick return yards during that time.
They brought in Allen Rossum to run back kicks last season, then let him go after he was mostly ineffective. After that, they signed Eddie Drummond, but released him in the preseason. Now, they are using third-down back Mewelde Moore on punts and rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall and Moore on kickoffs.

Recent NFL Discussions

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Redskins 2016 Win Total Pick   After being the surprise winner of the NFC East in 2015, can the Washington Redskins find a way to have another big season in...
Thumbnail Bills Season Win Total Prediction Rex Ryan blew into Orchard Park last January with his patented bravado dialed up to 11, but all the swagger in the world couldn’t mask another disappointing...
Thumbnail Chicago Bears Win Total Picks The Chicago Bears find themselves in a competitive NFC North Division. Can they navigate the waters in 2016 to have a winning...
Thumbnail Rams Season Win Total Prediction Amid all the hullaballoo surrounding their move (back) to Los Angeles, the Rams actually lost some fairly significant pieces on the personnel side. Will a new man...
Thumbnail Dolphins Season Win Total Prediction With a new head coach and several fresh faces, will the Miami Dolphins win over or under 7 games in 2016?
More inNFL Articles  
Advertisement

NFL Team Pages