Limiting sacks tops on 2012 season agenda for Steelers

| Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012

Art Rooney II said he'd like the Steelers to become more consistent on offense and for them to cut down on sacks.

The Steelers president did not call for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who frequently holds onto the ball to extend plays, to make significant changes to his style of play.

"He may need to tweak it a little bit, but Ben is Ben and you wouldn't want to convince him that he's got to completely change his game because a lot of what he does is the reasons he's successful," Rooney said. "The other side of the coin is he is turning 30 (in March), and we do need him to stay healthy."

Roethlisberger was sacked 40 times this season. When asked if keeping him more upright in 2012 is tied to upgrading the offensive line, Rooney said, "For the most part, I would say we feel like we have the people in the building that can do the job. That's not to say that we won't try to get better as we prepare for the offseason, and the draft is always something that we look at as an opportunity to get better."

Rooney said he doesn't expect the Steelers to make any big-name signings during free agency, which starts at 4 p.m. March 13.

Wilson still critical

Running backs coach Kirby Wilson, badly burned in a Jan. 6 fire at his Seven Fields townhouse, remains in critical condition at UPMC Mercy Hospital, according to a statement released Tuesday by his family.

Wilson, who is in the trauma burn center, sustained burns over 45 percent of his body, suffered smoke inhalation and will require "operative procedures in the future," according to the release.

"He continues to be in our prayers, and we're very hopeful that he's going to have a complete recovery," Rooney said. "I'm optimistic. The other side of it is we know he's got a long road (ahead), a long recovery process."

Adding seats

Expansion is coming to Heinz Field, though it won't happen until after the 2012 season.

Rooney said the Steelers will add about 3,000 seats to the open end of the stadium.

Extra seats had been installed there temporarily for the Winter Classic, which was played Jan. 1, 2011. Rooney said plans to add seats in that area permanently were put on hold last year because of the NFL lockout.

"The uncertainty of the lockout is really what pushed us into next year, because we sort of had to pull the trigger on the project last June," Rooney said.

Tomlin's father dies

Ed Tomlin, the biological father of coach Mike Tomlin, died Monday in Ocala, Fla., of a heart attack, according to the Ocala Star-Banner. He was 63.

Tomlin had been president of the Monroe County NAACP and remained active in civil rights until his death, according to the Star-Banner.

The Steelers had no comment.

Extra points

Look for the Steelers to re-sign quarterbacks Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch. Both, along with Dennis Dixon, are unrestricted free agents. "We like the quarterbacks we have on our roster, and we're hopeful to sign at least some of them," Rooney said. ... The Steelers are waiting to see if defensive end Brett Keisel needs to have groin surgery. ... Wide receiver Tyler Grisham signed a futures contract with the Denver Broncos. Grisham appeared in four games for the Steelers in 2009, catching one pass for 14 yards. He has exhausted his practice-squad eligibility.

Additional Information:

Rooney Q&A

To read excerpts from Steelers president Art Rooney II's wide-ranging interview, go to the Steel Mill blog .

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