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Room for improvement

Posted Oct 24, 2011

The Steelers are on a three-game win streak, having defeated Tennessee, Jacksonville and Arizona. But they still don’t feel like they are playing their best football on either side of the ball.

“I think we are getting closer,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “I still think that there are some things that we could do to get better, but that’s good. I think it’s early in the year still and that we can make some improvements. We don’t want to be clicking at 100 percent right now. We want to be winning games and moving forward.”

After shaking off an opening day loss to the Baltimore Ravens the Steelers have played more consistently, but they know they have a ways to go and when they need to get there.

“Football really starts in December, especially around here because we are normally in the playoff hunt for it,” said linebacker Larry Foote. “You’ve got to stack the wins now if you want to get invited to the dance.

“Being 5-2 at this point is good. We definitely want to be 7-0, but 5-2 we are in a good situation and we have one of the hottest teams in football coming to Heinz Field this weekend.”

The New England Patriots will be a strong indicator of where the Steelers are, with a 5-1 record and an explosive offensive attack that is led by quarterback Tom Brady.   

“I think since he took the helm at quarterback he has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” said Foote. “I have been here for most of the losses. He has had our number. We have to try and correct that this Sunday.”

With weapons everywhere you look on offense for the Patriots, correcting that starts with each player handling their assignment.

“They have so many weapons it comes down to you have to win your one-on-one matchups,” said Foote. “They have been throwing the ball, but I have been watching them and they are also running the ball good this year.

“Their tight ends run like receivers. They got off on us a little bit last year. They made some plays. We know Tom likes them. But he spreads the ball around to everybody. One-on-one matchups are going to be a key this week. We definitely have to stop the run and in one-on-one matchups you have to lock your guy down.”

* * *

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley got off to a slow start this season as far as sacks go, with just one and a half in the first four games. But he has definitely picked up the pace as of late.

In the last three games Woodley has five and a half sacks, including two against the Arizona Cardinals.

“I just had to take advantage of the opportunity when it came,” said Woodley. “That was the biggest thing. Being in this defense, we do a lot of coverage as well, so when you have the opportunity to rush, you take advantage of it. That’s what I’ve been doing these past two weeks. When my number’s called, just go in there and make some plays.”

Woodley picked a good time to step things up, playing his best while fellow linebacker James Harrison is sidelined with an eye injury.

“He is a Michigan man so he is doing what he is supposed to do,” said Foote, who also went to Michigan. “Since he has been starting he has been averaging 10 sacks a year. He is one of the best pass rushers in the game. We know what Woodley is capable of doing and he is heating up at the right time.”

* * *

Tickets are still available for Taste of the Steelers, a part of the team’s annual Alumni Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Heinz Field at 6 p.m. 

The evening will reunite Steelers players from the 1980’s, including Bubby Brister, Keith Gary, John Jackson, Louis Lipps, Edmund Nelson, Donnie Shell and Craig Wolfley as they reminisce on their careers and regale the crowd with their stories. 

Proceeds benefit the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute at UPMC and the Cancer Caring Center.  Tickets are $250 an can be purchased by calling 412-802-8256.

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