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Cornerback Ratliff says decision to sign with the Steelers was a no-brainer

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Saturday, June 6, 2009
 

The Steelers got to know cornerback Keiwan Ratliff up-close-and-personal during the 2008 season when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

Ratliff's interception of a Ben Roethlisberger pass set up a Colts' touchdown late in the second quarter of Indianapolis' 24-20 victory at Heinz Field.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin reminded Ratliff of that interception during practice this week.

"Coach Tomlin was teasing me," Ratliff said. "I dropped an interception in practice (Tuesday). He was saying if I dropped that one last year, the game could have gone the other way.''

An unrestricted free agent after last season, Ratliff believed the Colts would re-sign him. When they didn't, he signed a one-year deal with the Steelers.

"Coming here was a blessing," he said. "Who could turn down a team who was basically No. 1 in every major defensive category in the league• If you've got a chance to play with the Steelers, it's kind of like being a wide receiver and having an opportunity to play with Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

"No matter what, if (the Steelers) offered, this is where I was going to be.''

Ratliff gives the Steelers veteran depth. In addition to lining up at backup cornerback at Steelers' practices, he has filled in at safety in the absence of Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Tyrone Carter.

"Guys who can play multiple positions have a greater opportunity of being on the field,'' said Ratliff, 28. "The Steelers lost a good player in Bryant McFadden. As a cornerback, when you see something like that, a guy on the Super Bowl winning team who goes elsewhere, you know there's going to be an open spot.''

A second-round draft pick in 2004, Ratliff played three seasons with Cincinnati before being released. He joined Tampa Bay briefly and signed with Indianapolis toward the end of the 2007 season. The Colts released him twice last season but re-signed him after cornerback Marlin Jackson went on injured reserve.

Ratliff recorded 32 tackles and two interceptions in four starts last season. He also returned an interception 35 yards against the Jaguars' David Garrard for his first NFL score.

"The thing I do best is make plays,'' said Ratliff, who has five career inteceptions. "Some guys are physical corners or cover corners. I consider myself a playmaker.

"Last year was the first time in a couple of years I got a chance to play 70-plus snaps a game and actually put extensive filmwork out there.''

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