Steelers' Reid still bobbling opportunity
He recently talked about all that his prized first-round pick can do on a football field. But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin offered this caveat regarding Lawrence Timmons: what the former Florida State star did at "Tallahassee" doesn't mean much anymore.
He might have delivered a similar message to wide receiver/kick returner Willie Reid on Tuesday morning.
"I challenged him in front of his peers," Tomlin said.
Reid couldn't get on the field last year because of a numbers crunch and an injury, and he won't stay on it this season if he doesn't start showing the stuff that made him one of the most dazzling return men in Florida State history.
Tomlin said Reid will be back returning punts Thursday when the Steelers visit the Carolina Panthers for their final preseason game.
That Tomlin publicly talked about calling out Reid, however, shows that he may be losing patience with the second-year pro.
Reid, the only Florida State player aside from Deion Sanders to gain 1,000 career yards in punt returns, is averaging just 4.9 yards on eight punt returns during the preseason. In Sunday's 27-13 win over the Eagles he fumbled a punt deep in Steelers territory, though he did recover it.
"I think I'm just too anxious to go out and make big plays," said Reid, a third-round pick of the Steelers in 2006. "Coaches have mentioned to me that I'm trying to hit the home run all the time instead of getting what I'm supposed to get and that will be it."
It's understandable if Reid is a little overanxious.
He didn't dress in the Steelers' first three games as a rookie last season since he was the odd man out at wide receiver. Against the San Diego Chargers, he left the game early after spraining his left foot while returning a kickoff.
The injury, which was actually a mid-foot sprain, sidelined him for the rest of the season and even caused Reid to miss some of the Steelers' offseason practices.
Reid emerged as one of the early stars of training camp, showing his toughness as a wide receiver and a burst that could be attributed to his foot being healed.
So where, Steelers fans are asking, is the player who burned Penn State for 180 yards and a touchdown on punt returns in the 2006 Orange Bowl?
"You never know when that play is going to come, and it usually comes when you least expect it, so I just think it's a matter of time," wide receiver Cedrick Wilson said. "You've got to be patient."
Wilson replaced Reid as a punt returner after the latter fumbled against the Eagles early in the second quarter. Yet both Reid and Wilson said it had been determined before the game that Reid would give way to Wilson after fielding two punts.
"My confidence is still high," Reid said. "I just had a couple of mistakes, and that's the whole story."
The story could change if Reid struggles on returns Thursday.
"We'll see what he brings," Tomlin said of the game against the Panthers, "but I expect him to bring it, because he's a competitor."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Opposing defenses find success against Steelers by eschewing blitz
- Steelers looking for Spence to step up game at inside linebacker
- Snapshot in time: Comparing Cowher, Tomlin drafts
- Play of the week: Texans find success with zone stretch running attack
- Robinson: Big Ben on pace to break Favre’s record — for sacks
- Steelers notebook: Shazier limited in practice
- Rossi: Steelers’ ‘march of mediocrity’ baffling
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin tunes out criticism from Cowher, Ward
- Steelers seeking solutions for scoring problems in red zone
- Steelers notebook: WR Brown recalls Houston’s Watt as teammates at CMU
- Texans coach O’Brien still cherishes time at Penn State