Steelers notebook: LeBeau still going strong

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 10:12 p.m.

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will be 76 on Sept. 9, one day after the Steelers' opener. He was the NFL's oldest assistant coach last season, and he will be again this season.

Does LeBeau ever think about when he might leave the game he has been part of since 1959, when he was drafted by the Browns but landed with the Lions?

“I don't think because of the situation that I am in that it would be very productive for me to think about it,” LeBeau said Wednesday. “I just go one day at a time really, one year at a time. I feel blessed that I'm still in the game and surrounded with young people that are working hard. I don't worry too much about the future.”

Then, he added, “Some of us don't have as much future as others.”

Gradkowski earns high marks

Bruce Gradkowski is taking a majority of the starters' practice snaps during the minicamp as Ben Roethlisberger heals from right knee surgery last week, but rookie Landry Jones and John Parker Wilson also are getting into the quarterback rotation.

Coach Mike Tomlin grew a bit testy Wednesday when he was questioned about Roethlisberger's two backups — when, for the moment, he has three.

Asked about Gradkowski, Tomlin said, “He's a high-energy guy. It's obvious that he loves football, and he wears his emotions on his sleeve. That can be a positive thing for him and us. But more than anything he's a football junkie. He likes the process of going about the work to get better, and that's appreciated.”

Focus on turnovers

LeBeau emphasized again Wednesday the necessity of forcing turnovers, something the Steelers did only 20 times last season.

Troy Polamalu discussed in detail what the defense must do to create those mistakes.

“Everything stems from pressure and disguise,” he said. “We have to pressure quarterbacks into making bad decisions by doing that. You've got to hit them and get at the quarterback. We have to get a better pass rush ... let the guys work that are blitzing. We have to win one-on-one matchups in order to do that. When it comes down to it, when we get opportunities we have to seize them. We got our hands on a lot of balls last year. Hopefully, we'll be able to seize those opportunities this year.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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