Steelers fire O-line coach Zierlein after enduring protection issues

PITTSBURGH -- Offensive line coach Larry Zierlein was fired Wednesday, becoming the first Steelers assistant to lose his job since coach Mike Tomlin was hired in 2007.

Zierlein was supposed to meet with some of his linemen Wednesday, only to be told he was being replaced. He was seen leaving the Steelers' offices with several large boxes.

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Zierlein previously coached for the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, plus five college teams.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians held a long meeting with Tomlin on Wednesday and is expected to retain his job, despite some dissatisfaction within the organization about the decreased emphasis on the running game.

Zierlein's offensive line had season-long problems, allowing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked 50 times as the Steelers (9-7) failed to make the playoffs one season after winning the Super Bowl.

The coaching change was the second in the last two days after Tomlin went three seasons without altering his staff. Quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson retired Tuesday after 33 seasons as an NFL player or coach, 16 as a Cincinnati Bengals quarterback.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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