DBs focused getting their hands on the ball


Steelers defensive backs made their share of plays during OTAs, but it's the ones they didn't make that got the most attention during video sessions.

"They expect us to make plays so there's not a huge emphasis on that," in the meeting room, first-year cornerback Kevin Fogg explained. "But when there's an opportunity that's missed, that's when (the coaches) emphasize it the most."

That emphasis has been ever present ever since last season ended.

"Obviously, it's something that's extremely important to us," veteran free safety Mike Mitchell said. "We didn't get enough turnovers last year."

The Steelers want and demand more this year.

As a result, even plays that are made on the field are graded on a curve.

"I think we did a decent job of getting our hands on the ball," Mitchell continued. "Coach (Mike Tomlin) doesn't want to give us any credit, though. I think I had three (last) Thursday. He said they weren't interceptions, they were catches. So we're working on getting interceptions, not just catching the ball when it comes to us.

"It's always a challenge with 'Coach T.' He's always really hard on us and wants us to get better."

Mitchell appreciates what's been taking place, in theory and in practice.

"I think one of them really did hit me in the face," he said. "It was more like self-defense."

But that doesn't mean the defensive backs aren't elated when one of them comes through with a turnover that counts as such no matter who's doing the actual grading.

The coaches may not be handing out gold stars for plays that, in their view, merely meet expectations.

But Mitchell said the players in the secondary are "embracing" an all-for-one approach.

"Troy (Polamalu) used to say when one brother makes a play we all make a play," Mitchell said. "Whether it was somebody being underneath a route getting a ball elevated or maybe a corner getting a good jam, allowing the safety to get over the top a little better, all those things play hand in hand. So we're always excited when one of us makes a play.

"We're in this thing together. A lot of people don't really understand when you're a DB there are a lot of lonely moments. You're always the last person in the screen. Whether it's your fault or not they're pointing at you. So we're a tight-knit group trying to stay together. We always get excited when somebody makes a play."

The play of OTAs might have been made by Fogg last week, when he turned a Ben Roethlisberger pass into an interception and then finished the play the way the Steelers want to see plays finished this season.

"Pick-six," Fogg conformed. "It was just one of those things where I was in the right place at the right time and I ended up getting my hands on a ball and actually catching it. I had missed a couple earlier in the week and in the first week (of OTAs). It felt good.

"I saw on the film my teammates were just going crazy nuts; that made me feel good right there. At first I didn't know who it was (throwing the pass). But then after practice one of the reporters came up to me and said, 'How does it feel to pick-six Ben?'  

"I heard that when it was put up on the film he looked pretty mad. I'm trying to stay out of his way. It's just (about) making each other better."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.