Better with Bettis

"It's been one of those situations where I've had to adjust to a lot of different things, from starting to not starting. Having to come off the bench is a lot different. It's a lot different when you have to get yourself to come off the bench. It was something I had to do. It was tough, but as a veteran, you do it for the team." --- Steelers running back Jerome Bettis

Q: What kind of familiarity do you have with 49ers running back Kevan Barlow?

Bettis: I know Kevan very well. He's a very impressive running back, too. I got a chance to see him in college quite a bit and his whole career here. He was impressive all through college and especially there. He's forced the 49ers to have to work him into the offense. Early on, there was a thought that he would be a back-up player there, but he's proven that he can carry the load.

Q: What's your scouting report on Barlow?

Bettis: He does everything good. He catches the ball well and runs well. He does it all pretty well. There is nothing in there that I could say he doesn't do well.

Q: Can you talk about sharing the Steelers' workout facility with Barlow when he was at Pitt?

Bettis: I saw him some, but I didn't see him in the sense that I could really get a good idea of everything. From a friendship standpoint, it was pretty good, but from a running back standpoint, we didn't really get a chance to talk about X's and O's.

Q: What are your feelings about alternating this season with Amos Zereoue?

Bettis: It's been kind of weird. It's been up and down. It's been one of those situations where I've had to adjust to a lot of different things, from starting to not starting. Having to come off the bench is a lot different. It's a lot different when you have to get yourself to come off the bench. It was something I had to do. It was tough, but as a veteran, you do it for the team.

Q: Has it helped make you fresher than in previous seasons?

Bettis: I think so. Also, the fact that they want you in there shows a lot to me because they came back to me. When they don't come back to you, that is pretty much the end of the run.

Q: What's your evaluation of your own abilities?

Bettis: I've never questioned my abilities. I know I can get it done. As running backs, you don't forget how to run in the course of a year or two years. You just don't do it. I've never questioned my ability.

Q: Why did the Steelers make a transition from a running team to a passing team?

Bettis: Well, I think they made the transition initially because of the wide receivers that we have. They thought that it would be a good opportunity to open up the offense. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay still with that because of the offensive line troubles that we had earlier. We kind of have done another reversal, in terms of going back to the running game and that is where I come in.

Q: Does the 49ers' intense blitz package mean more work for you?

Bettis: No, not really because everybody since week two has been blitzing the mess out of us. We've gotten our fair share of blitzing. Our blitz-protection has really picked up. We understand that that is naturally the part that we are going to see the most. They are going to try and disrupt Tommy and get him off of his timing. We know that we will see a lot of blitzing.

Q: Is this the year that the winner in your division will have an 8-8 record?

Bettis: It could happen. It definitely could happen. If you look at what is happening now, Baltimore, the leader in the division just lost their quarterback for at least six weeks. So, it very easily could happen. Cincinnati is playing Kansas City this week. So, the possibility clearly exists.

Q: What did you see in Arizona game that you could put some wins together?

Bettis: A win! The last couple of weeks, we never saw a win. It takes one to start a streak. Just to know that we got an opportunity to do some things well. We scored some touchdowns, we stopped their offense and we got a special teams touchdown. So, the offense, defense and special teams have started to come together. That gives us some hope.

Q: You're not far from passing Franco Harris on the all-time rushing list. Is that becoming a big deal to you?

Bettis: I think the closer it gets, the possibility will flare up a little more. Right now, it hasn't because we aren't winning. So, all of the individual things aren't that important. Hopefully, we get a couple of wins and it will probably take off.

Q: Is the record something you have your eye on?

Bettis: Oh yeah, there is no question. Being a running back here in Pittsburgh, that is definitely the number that you see all the time.

Q: What's the most dangerous aspect of the Steelers right now?

Bettis: That our back is against the wall. That is clearly the one thing you have to look at. We have to come out and find a way to win. I can't say that the offense or defense is the most dangerous. I just think as a team, we're dangerous because our backs are against the wall.


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