NFL analyst Warren Sapp calls Steelers 'old,' 'slow'

| Friday, Sept. 16, 2011

Warren Sapp's observation that the Steelers are "old" and "slow" generated a muted response at team headquarters Thursday.

And apparently it is news to Dick LeBeau.

"I wouldn't kick dirt on us," the Steelers' defensive coordinator said after practice. "We'll be back."

Sapp, a former Pro Bowl defensive tackle turned NFL analyst, doesn't think so.

He said on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" on Wednesday night that the Steelers are "old, slow, and it's over."

Sapp said his 13-year-old daughter could cover receiver Hines Ward in "a heartbeat." At one point during the Steelers' 35-7 loss on Sunday, strong safety Troy Polamalu tried to grab Ravens tight end Ed Dickson but couldn't get close enough, Sapp said.

Ward laughed off the comments and said he doesn't respond to personal shots. Polamalu also shrugged off the criticism.

"We were old and slow the last time, for sure," said Polamalu, the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. "Hopefully we'll look a lot better the next time out."

The Steelers were gashed for 170 rushing yards in Baltimore. They also sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco just one time and didn't force a turnover.

The dismal showing by last season's top scoring defense renewed questions about a unit with eight starters who are at least 30 years old.

"I don't think seven months or eight months off makes us that much slower than when we were going to the Super Bowl," starting free safety Ryan Clark said. "That's just my own opinion."

LeBeau said there has been talk for "five years" now that the Steelers defense is too old.

"I've got a lot of confidence in our team and a lot of confidence in our defense," LeBeau said. "It's like the guy that got up and said, 'This could be the last day of my life.' Sooner or later you're going to be right, but they ain't right yet."

Cornerback Ike Taylor agreed.

"Once you get a certain age, you get labeled as old. That's understandable," Taylor said. "Just the group of guys that we do have, age ain't a factor."

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