Redskins give little rest to Steelers' defense
By Ralph N. Paulk, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, August 13, 2011


LANDOVER, Md. Even though he watched his seemingly beleaguered first-team defense get pushed around by a revamped Washington Redskins offense in the preseason opener, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau appeared calm after a 16-7 loss Friday night at FedEx Field.

Yet losing an exhibition game pales in comparison to overcoming the obvious rust the Steelers' defense must shed before the Philadelphia Eagles arrive at Heinz Field on Thursday night. And it likely won't have one of its key members.

Cornerback Ike Taylor suffered a broken left thumb in the first quarter. Coach Mike Tomlin said Taylor could miss two weeks and was uncertain whether surgery would be required.

"I wasn't even like paying attention," Taylor said. "But I just know, during that time in the first quarter, I really felt it."

Taylor said he doesn't know when he'll return to practice but added, "that's up to the coaches and the trainers."

And during the Redskins' second possession, linebacker Lawrence Timmons absorbed a heavy blow to his head after a violent collision with tight end Fred Davis.

With linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu sitting out, the defense was wobbly and uncertain on Washington's first three drives. It surrendered 88 yards on the Redskins' first possession but escaped unscathed when kicker Shayne Graham hooked a 29-yard field-goal try.

"We've got to work on our technique and guys being in the right position," linebacker James Farrior said. "They did a good job of blocking us up, and they had a lot of running yards, which is something we don't usually give up."

The Redskins didn't score until the Steelers benched nearly all of their first teamers early in the second quarter. Quarterback Rex Grossman engineered an 82-yard drive that culminated in an 8-yard touchdown pass to receiver Santana Moss, giving Washington a 7-0 lead at 9:45.

LeBeau and Tomlin were forced to slightly alter their game plan. Tomlin said earlier this week that his starters would play 10 or fewer snaps from scrimmage, but several of them were on the field as the Redskins rolled up 119 yards on 22 plays during their first two possessions.

"It wasn't the kind of performance we were looking for tonight," Tomlin said. "Frankly, we got out-performed in all areas. I look forward to this group responding to what we put out there tonight. We've got a lot of ground to cover. We'll assess this performance, but it needs to better quickly."

The Steelers struggled to bottle up running back Tim Hightower, who consistently bounced off defenders including a 16-yard run in which he shrugged off defensive end Brett Keisel.

The Steelers countered by blitzing LaMarr Woodley off the edge, and the Redskins adjusted: Grossman flipped a pass over Woodley's outstretched hands to fullback Darrel Young for a 16-yard completion to the Steelers 10.

From there, the Steelers' ageless defensive front finally responded. Keisel, with an assist from Timmons and Taylor, dragged Hightower down behind the line of scrimmage for a 3-yard loss. Then, nose tackle Casey Hampton hurried Grossman into an errant pass with Hightower breaking free in the Steelers' secondary on second-and-goal.

"We have a lot of work to do," Hampton said. "We don't have anything to panic about, but we definitely have some work to do."


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