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Steelers court free safety Crocker

By Scott Brown
Friday, March 7, 2008

As quiet as the Steelers have been during free agency, one thing that has become apparent since the signing period started a week ago is that their intent on improving at free safety.

The team hosted free agent Chris Crocker on Thursday, marking the second visit this week by a prospective free safety (Eugene Wilson met with the Steelers on Tuesday).

Crocker, who has also visited the Texans, said he was impressed by what he saw and heard from the Steelers. Of meetings he has scheduled with the Broncos and Titans, the fifth-year veteran said, "Let's hope I don't have to make those trips."

Crocker had a career-high three interceptions for the Falcons last season and made 55 tackles. The 5-foot-11 192-pounder played three years for the Browns, who took him in the third round of the 2003 draft, before being traded to Atlanta.

The Steelers had problems at free safety last season.

Starter Ryan Clark was lost in October because of a condition that eventually led to the removal of his spleen. Anthony Smith, who replaced Clark, floundered late in the season and lost his starting job to Tyrone Carter.

Crocker said the Steelers told him he'd have a chance to compete for the starting job at free safety if the two sides reached an agreement.

"(The Steelers) are very high on my list, but they have to make it easy," Crocker said. "It still is a business, but it's also about winning. The ball is in their court right now."

Note: Second-year defensive end Ryan McBean hurt his right foot and is on crutches. The injury happened recently, though Peter Schaffer, McBean's agent, declined to comment on the nature or severity of it. Schaffer, via e-mail, said he didn't want to comment before team doctors had a chance to examine McBean's foot.



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