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Fast Willie making move

| Sunday, Aug. 21, 2005

If you're going to take anything from Saturday night's thoroughly forgettable exhibition game between the Steelers and the Miami Dolphins, take this: New Dolphins coach Nick Saban might soon need therapy.

And lots of it.

Was that really Gus Frerotte playing quarterback for the Dolphins•

I swear I thought Frerotte retired in, like, 1996 -- or around the time he knocked himself silly during a celebratory head bang at RFK Stadium.

So, please, take it with a grain of smelling salts that the Steelers harassed Frerotte into a 7-for-18 performance and forced five first-half turnovers. It's hard to know what's real and what is not on nights like this. All you can do is take a few snapshots and store 'em away.

A few images stood out last night when the real players played:

  • Willie Parker ran very fast. In fact, Parker (six carries, 58 yards, 9.7 average) outran everybody to the left sidelines on a 37-yard dash in the first quarter. He also flashed an ability to break tackles and make something out of nothing and turned a short pass into a 20-yard gain.

    At this point, I'm liking Willie as the new third-down back, at least. He looks better than Verron Haynes, who fumbled last night, and he gives the Steelers a legitimate breakaway threat.

  • Jeff Reed missed a 28-yard field-goal attempt, wide left. Slightly disturbing, although Reed should get the benefit of the doubt after upping his percentage from 71.9 to 84.8 last season.

  • A Steelers receiver wearing No. 80 dropped a pass in the end zone. No, it wasn't Plaxico Burress. Cedrick Wilson couldn't hang onto a Ben Roethlisberger lob on second-and-goal from the 9 in the first quarter. Bad sign.

  • Clark Haggans rushed the passer with an unmistakable ferocity. One play, Haggans destroyed tight end Randy McMichael and crumpled Frerotte like a paper doll. Good sign.

  • James Farrior hurt people. Nothing new there.

  • The defense scored another touchdown. That's two in two games for the first team. This time, Farrior lit up Frerotte, forcing a fumble, and James Harrison scooped it up and ran 69 yards.

  • The defense gave up another long pass. This time, it was on a 3rd-and-11, when Frerotte dropped into the end zone and connected on a 42-yard pass to somebody named Wes Welker. In the exhibition opener, the Steelers first-team 'D' gave up three 21-yard passes in the first quarter. Very disturbing.

  • Roethlisberger threw a horrendous interception on an overthrow to Jerame Tuman (at least it wasn't Rodney Harrison in coverage). Easy solution to this recurring problem: Stop throwing to Tuman in the right flat.

  • Alonzo Jackson made a tackle. Pretty soon, I suspect, he'll be making his last tackle in a Steelers uniform.

  • Ricardo Colclough made a terrible decision in trying to field a bouncing punt while a pack Dolphins stormed in on him. One of them wound up with the ball. Somebody needs to tell Colclough it's OK to signal fair-catch. Really.

  • Charlie Batch threw an incomplete pass to Sean Morey near the goal line late in the second quarter. If the Steelers' season ever comes down to "Batch-to-Morey," Cowher might wind up on the same couch as Saban.

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