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Steelers run game off to slow start
PITTSBURGH (AP) - The horn sounded to end practice Wednesday and as most of their Pittsburgh Steelers teammates trudged back to the locker room, running backs Isaac Redman, Mewelde Moore and Rashard Mendenhall jogged to an adjacent field.
For the next 15 minutes the trio pushed each other in a series of sprints designed to test their endurance, a routine they did regularly during training camp but abandoned once the season started.
After a pair of so-so weeks, they decided it was time to get back to basics.
“We’d gotten away from it a little bit,” Redman said.
Kind of like the Steelers and the running game.
Pittsburgh (1-1) is just 20th in the league in rushing through two weeks. Hardly time to panic heading into Sunday’s game against reeling Indianapolis (0-2), certainly, but Redman knows there’s room for improvement.
“We feel like we’re still trying to get it going a little bit,” he said.
The Steelers are quick to point out circumstances and a jumbled offensive line have forced them to adjust on the fly. They fell behind by three touchdowns 21 seconds into the third quarter against Baltimore, forcing them to go to the pass almost exclusively.
A season-ending injury to right tackle Willie Colon forced rookie Marcus Gilbert into the lineup against the Seahawks and Chris Kemoeatu took the week off to rest his sore right knee, pushing Ramon Foster into his spot at left guard.
Pittsburgh had success in the first half as Mendenhall and Redman both ran for scores, but struggled getting the tough yards at times. Mendenhall was stuffed at the goal line on fourth down on Pittsburgh’s first series and the team had to settle for a field goal at the end of the half after having first down at the Seattle 2.
Things didn’t get any better from there. The Steelers had 16 carries for 30 yards in the second half, numbers skewed only slightly by the three Roethlisberger kneel downs in the final minute.
The lack of production forced Roethlisberger to pass to ice the game. Not an issue normally, yet Roethlisberger had to do it on Sunday while walking on a gimpy right knee after taking a low shot from Seattle’s Raheem Brock.
Roethlisberger came out of it intact, though coach Mike Tomlin would have preferred Roethlisberger spend the second half handing off instead of dropping back to pass.
“I thought we won the line of scrimmage in the first half, not so much in the second,” Tomlin said. “Maybe that is a function of conditioning. We’ve had some guys who’s roles have been backups in the past playing in the line of scrimmage for us.”
Running the ball helps shorten the game and allows Pittsburgh’s formidable but aging defense catch a breather. Mendenhall had a breakout season a year ago, rushing for 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns.
By Donald Lambro
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