The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 25, 2007

Steelers look to be sticking with the 3-4 defense

INDIANAPOLIS — Oklahoma runs the Tampa 2, or the Tomlin 2, as those in Pittsburgh figure to re-name the defense of the Steelers.

And the pride and joy of that Sooners’ defense, Big 12 Player of the Year Rufus Alexander, would make be the perfect Derrick Brooks-type weakside linebacker.

With his outstanding coverage skills, Alexander would make a perfect chip for Mike Tomlin’s defensive transition.

But, alas, the Steelers have not spoken with Alexander. They have, on the other hand, spoken with Adam Carriker.

“They see me as a 3-4 end,” Carriker said.

And they’ve spoken with Jay Moore.

“I met their whole staff,” the Nebraska “tweener” defensive end/OLB said. “And we went in depth about playing the 3-4.”

And the Steelers spoke with Anthony Spencer and Jarvis Moss. Both said the same thing: The Steelers are looking for defensive ends to make the move to 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.

A source with the Steelers made the admission that, yes, the Steelers are sticking with their 3-4 defense, even though their new coach, Tomlin, is an avowed Cover 2 devotee.

“We’ll run a 4-3 at times, only if we have that specialty type player,” said the source. “Otherwise, we’re still a 3-4.”

The Steelers don’t expect Carriker to still be on the draft board when they pick 15th, but several linebackers will be.

The most attractive might be Spencer, who played linebacker as a sophomore before becoming one of the nation’s most feared pass rushers as a 6-foot-2, 262-pound defensive end at Purdue.

He led the nation with 261⁄2 tackles for loss last season, and was also a finalist for the Lott Trophy, a local award that honors athletic achievement and character.

“I didn’t win it,” he said. “But I was very grateful to be on the list. I’m a pretty happy go lucky guy. I have a pretty positive attitude most of the time. I treat people right I guess. I don’t have any real enemies out there. I think I’m a pretty good guy.”

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