Stefan Logan made big impact

By: Mike Bires Beaver County Times
Tuesday August 10, 2010

Times photo by LUCY SCHALY - Stefan Logan.

LATROBE — Stefan Logan may be one of the NFL’s tiniest players. But he likes to think of himself as an electrifying, big-bang kind of a guy.

On the Steelers’ roster, he’s listed as a wide receiver. But catching passes isn’t his thing. He’s a kick return specialist.

At just 5-foot-6, Logan wants to make an impact with positive plays while returning punts and kickoffs.

“That’s my job,” Logan said. “And I’m looking forward to it.”

Last year, Logan was easily the biggest training camp sensation. He was a 28-year-old rookie from Miami, Fla., whose long path to Pittsburgh included a college career at South Dakota and a season in the Canadian Football League.

Then last summer, he won over legions of Steelers fans — and ultimately a roster spot — by the way he returned kicks in the preseason. He cemented his roster spot with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown in the final exhibition at Carolina.

Logan then went on to hold his own in games that counted.

In league stats that included returners with a minimum of 20 returns, Logan was fifth with a 26.7 yard average on kickoff returns and 13th with a 9.3 yard average in punt returns.

“Returning kicks is a hard job,” said Al Everest, the Steelers’ new special teams coordinator. “But it’s a critical job. Last year, Stefan proved he can handle it. I think he can be a special returner. He has some special abilities.”

Last year in the NFL, 18 touchdowns were scored on kickoff returns. The Steelers were part of four of them, but all in a negative sense. Their kickoff coverage team allowed scores in four games.

Logan was never able to “take one to the house,” as they say, but he did have one kickoff return that went for 83 yards. And his kickoff return average was the seventh-best in franchise history.

“Last year was a great experience for me,” Logan said. “Making the team the way I did was pretty exciting. I thought I did all right considering it was my first year in the NFL.

“But this is another year,” added Logan, one of only eight players in the league last year to have 20 returns on both kickoffs and punts. “It’s not what you did last year. You have to put last year behind you. It’s a new year. We have some new players. It’s all about what you can do now.”

Among the new candidates for kick-return duties is an old face, wide receiver Antwaan Randle El. From 2002-2005, Randle El returned four punts and one kickoff for touchdowns for the Steelers. In the past four years when he played in Washington, Randle El returned only punts and scored just once on a punt return. So he’s not the return threat he used to be.

Beside Randle El, other newcomers are a pair of rookie wide receivers taken in this year’s draft — Emmanuel Sanders (third round) and Antonio Brown (sixth).

“I’ll be in the mix, but I think they’re focusing on Logan right now,” Randle El said.

In other words, it’s Logan’s job to lose. He has to perform well in this year’s preseason games, starting Saturday against Detroit, in order to remain with the Steelers.

“My first impression of Stefan is that when I got hired, he called me right away,” Everest said. “What that meant to me was that me coming here was important for him. He called me to let me know that he would do everything he could and he was fired up about the new situation.

“As far as Stefan having to compete for his job again, Coach (Mike) Tomlin’s approach is that competition only makes everyone better. So another thing I like about Stefan is that he doesn’t take anything for granted.

“And from what I’ve seen him of him so far, is that Stefan has the ability to be an exceptional returner in the National Football League.”

That once again is the goal for one of the NFL’s smallest players. ... mpact.html