By Dale Grdnic
Photo: David Hague — Inside Pittsburgh Sports
LATROBE, Pa. — The Pittsburgh Steelers used their version of the jumbo backfield maybe a half-dozen times during this past season, but if offensive lineman Doug Legursky — the jumbo portion of the set at 6-foot-1, 315 pounds — had his way the club would call his number a lot more often.
Legursky, known as Bronko (in reference to Hall of Famer Nagurski) since his college days at Marshall, joins a halfback in a short-yardage or goal-line set to help power the football across the line. The Steelers practiced the play several times Sunday afternoon and could run it more often this season.
Coach Mike Tomlin believed that Legursky’s athleticism and strong leg drive make him an asset to the play. Legursky, a backup center and offensive guard, is just happy to get on the field during a game.
“it’s always a lot of fun when you can get a five-yard head start and run at somebody to get a hit on them,” Legursky said. “So, we have a good time with it. … I either lead block or throw a kick-out block for the back. There’s a couple ways we can go with it, so it changes from time to time.
“Being a dressed offensive lineman on game day, not being a starter, you need to be versatile enough to play different positions. And they thought I’d fit in there pretty well. So far, it’s been a lot of fun. I get excited, and I think the other guys do, too, when I get in there.”
Frank “The Tank” Summers returned to the practice field Monday morning after missing nearly a week with a concussion. He was drilled by inside linebacker Larry Foote in a practice this past Tuesday and was seeing stars ever since.
“There’s a computer test I had to take every day, and it also is based on how I feel,” Summers said. “So, it’s just one of those things where I thought I was better a few days ago, but I really wasn’t. I wanted to get back out there, but it’s a serious matter when you consider what happened last year in the league.
“I had a lingering headache, too, but I feel pretty good right now. Until you get the word from the doctors, no matter how you feel, you are on the sideline. And you need to have patience for that. There’s really no treatment, except for rest. So, that’s what I did. I was a little foggy, but that has cleared up.”
Summers is competing for the club’s short-yardage and goal-line power back spot as well, but he missed the weekend session. Summers also missed last season with a back problem, so he has yet to contribute in an area where he appeared to be best-suited, the power running game.
“It was tough, because this was my first concussion ever,” Summes said. “But I’m OK now, and I’m ready to put my hand back on the pile. I was sorry to miss the short-yardage and goal-line, but I’ll get another shot.
“And at least I didn’t miss the first preseason game. So, I’m just going to try to bounce back quickly and pick up where I left off before. I had a pretty decent spring, so it’s important for me to stay healthy the rest of the way.”
The front-runner to be the Steelers’ power runner, the guy who slams into the end zone from the 1- or 2-yard line and moves the chains from midfield and in to keep the opposing offense off the field, is Isaac Redman.
A first-year player, Redman appeared to earn a roster spot primarily due to his success on the goal line in practice and several preseason games.
“On the goal line, Doug Legursky does a great job, and he took somebody all the way to the tent Sunday,” Redman jokingly said, referring to the sponsor’s tent some 20 yards behind the end zone. “When you have a great blocker like that, you have to use him in there when we can. But I’ll give it a shot, too.
“I’m working on every aspect of my game, and being able to pick up a blitz definitely is great for me to learn. We had some difficult in that area last season with other teams trying to bully us and have their linebackers run right over our blocking backs. So, I’ve worked very hard to improve in that area.”
It was believed by many that Redman made the Steelers final cut last year because he was so successful on the goal line during practice and in the early preseason games, but he eventually was cut and put on the practice squad. It doesn’t appear that he’ll be out of the mix this year, though.
“Right now, my mental aspect of the game is much better than it was at this time last year,” Redman said. “I understand the offense a lot better, where everybody needs to go, and who is blocking who on every play. That’s been a big part of me being able to pick up the blitzes and keep things going.
“Last year, I was kind of slow, and it was hard to keep it up. I went to a small school (Bowie State) where our offense was very simple, so coming here where it is much more complicated. … I’m much more comfortable this year, so I’m playing faster. And I’m in better shape, too, so that’s helped me out, too.”
Mike Wallace’s girlfriend had the couple’s first baby, a girl named Maliha Ghianna Wallace, nearly two weeks prematurely Friday. Wallace was in Houston for the birth, but now he’s back at training camp.
“I haven’t gotten her a No. 17 (Mike Wallace) jersey, but we’re going to do that when she gets a little bigger,” Wallace said. “I won’t let her date a football player, though. In fact, she’s not going to date at all.
“She’ll be home-schooled, and we’ll keep he under wraps for a while, maybe until she’s 25 or so. She won’t be going out at all, unless I’m there, until that time. (But) being a parent is different, I’ll tell you that.”
Aaron Smith’s wife is due around Thanksgiving to have the couple’s fifth child, a second boy to go with three girls.
Notes from Monday morning’s glorified walk-through practice: Charlie Batch, Ben Roethlisberger and Dennis Dixon got all the snaps in 11-on-11 drills, while Byron Leftwich took the session off. … Roethlisberger was picked off by Bryant McFadden on an overthrow. … Batch more than doubled his snap output with about a dozen in the team drills. … Using the skinny, Arena League-like goal posts, Jeff Reed made 9 of 10 from 30-plus yards, 1-for-2 from 40-plus and drilled his only attempt from 50.