Bill Cowher Press Conference -Week 2-

<b>BILL COWHER-&nbsp;</b> Let me give you the update on the players' health for this game. Joey Porter is going to be listed as doubtful. Obviously that's upgraded from being out.

A:  There's a chance. We'll see how he runs this week and go from there. Jerome (Bettis) is questionable with his groin. It's not anywhere near the injuries he's had in the past but he will be day-to-day and he's questionable at this time. And we have three players who are probable, they are Plax (Burress) with a quad, Jeff Hartings with his knee and Jay (Riemersma) with his ankle. Everybody else is pretty much ready to go. Todd (Fordham) has got the ankle but he's fine and working through it. He didn't take a setback the other day. We recognize the challenge. This is a really good football team (Kansas City Chiefs) we're about to play. It will give us a good feel for where we are because they were very, very impressive last week and there was a lot of talk about them in the preseason. I hadn't had a chance to see them. Having seen them I understand why all the talk is there. This team's for real. This will be a big, big challenge for us.

Q:  They had defensive problems last year. How did they improve?
A:  Well, they've got some young people and they went out and got Vonnie Holliday. I think he's really added a lot to them. They put him at right end; he'll be on our left side. Their linebackers. They went out and got Dexter McLeon. He gives them an experienced corner. They probably had to play with a lot of young players last year but I think you're taking pretty much the same group of linebackers and bringing in a Shawn Barber to add to it. You've got some young players with another year of experience. I think that's why they feel better about it. And then you look at what that offense has been able to put up. It's been rather impressive. So you don't have to be a great defense there; just be a good one. And they got off to a good start last week.

Q:  How do you stop Priest Holmes?
A:  Well, I don't know if you stop him. Hopefully you can contain him, just slow him down a little bit. That offense does such a great job of moving people around and they play the game so very fast. You look at them and you can see a little bit of the St. Louis Rams concept when they were very, very explosive. You see a lot of motions and shifts. Trent Green has got a great vision of the field when he can work from one side to the other and they get the ball in the hands of some very explosive people. Again, Priest Holmes is just as good out of the backfield as he is in the backfield. It's not just really about stopping one guy because they still have Tony Gonzalez, a pretty good tight end, some think the best in the league. Then you look at (Johnny) Morton and (Eddie) Kennison outside. Then they bring in this Dante Hall and he is really, really quick. He was a Pro Bowl returner a year ago. Priest Holmes is just one element of it. We've just got to try and slow them down.

Q:  Is he more dangerous running the ball or catching the ball?
A:  Well, I think the catches they give him are almost like runs. There are a lot of screens with blockers in front. Priest has great balance. You see him break a lot of tackles. He's a guy, and we played against him two years ago, he's one of those guys we stopped him for about three quarters and in the fourth quarter he just got loose. And they do a good job. They've got a good offensive line. Talk about those skill people, then you've got (John) Tait and Willie Roaf at the two tackles and Will Shields is a Pro Bowl guard, that's a pretty good offensive line as well. But he's just good with the ball in his hands and they spread it out, bring him in tight. They give you a lot of things to prepare for, and the guy breaks a lot of tackles, is a downhill runner and has great balance.

Q:  Do they use him the same way they used Marshall Faulk with the Rams?
A:  I think Marshall, the Rams probably ran more routes with. I would think that's the only thing I see differently. They do use him in and out of the backfield. When Priest is coming out of the backfield they'll get him the ball more on screens and flares. He may run a few limited routes, but Marshall is one of those guys who runs down the seams and tries to spread the field. I don't think they use Priest in that manner but they're very similar in that they're out of the backfield as much as in the backfield and they're very versatile players.

Q:  They finished (well) in the red zone last year. Did you notice?
A:  Yeah. They moved the ball on everybody. They were down there a lot. They will throw the ball up the field periodically but a lot of what they do is get the ball quickly into some of their receivers and let them make plays. You watch them last week, I don't know if they had any big plays but they had a bunch of 14-, 15-yard plays, and 9- and 10-yard plays. You could see them going right down the field. It wasn't like San Diego was missing coverage's or playing poorly. They were just so precision-like when they were moving. And it was like you didn't see the same play twice. You got kind of lost watching it. Like 'Whoa.' It was impressive to look at. They do use play-action and they do throw the ball down the field but I think a lot of what they want to do is get the ball into their hands quickly and have some guys break tackles. Consequently I think what you find is them moving the ball methodically on people and in the red zone a lot and finishing drives that way.

Q:  Will the pass interference calls last week affect the way your corners attack the ball?
A:  I don't think so. It's the same rules. They can make the call every time the ball's up. It's one of those things you have to get a feel for it, get your head around and make sure you're not arm-barring or cutting a guy off or doing things early that will get you in trouble. We have to continue working on it in practice and try to apply it again in the game.

Q:  Do some officials call it different than others?
A:  It's a judgment call. When you have judgment calls it's all how they want to see it so each play unfolds differently. When you see two guys going up for a ball, sometimes there is a judgment involved. You saw the other day they actually called offensive pass interference, which is unusual. There's a lot of judgment going into it and you've got to live with the call and you've got to move on.

Q:  What made you upgrade Joey?
A:  Everything we've had has been really positive and I think the biggest thing was the wounds healing to the point where infection was not an issue, and we're almost to that point. It's been 8 days since the surgery. He's doing some light jogging and running. You saw him running on the field the other day. He's getting there. We certainly have to be careful that he's able to do everything before we put him out there. He wants to get out there as quickly as possible and that's why he is listed as he is. I'm not going to rule him out. Dangle that doubtful out there for him and see where he goes with it, and that's the truth. If he's able to go and we see where he is at the end of the week, we may let him play. If not, then we'll see where he is next week and go from there.

Q:  Are you surprised by how quickly he's become doubtful to play?
A:  When I was trying to give you guys some reference points, there was so much speculation out there. I really just tried to get you guys to understand this was not as bad as some people were saying. Now, I didn't know at that time, and I don't think even the doctors knew at that time, how long we were looking at. But every time he took another test, even that Monday when he underwent the operation they said we'll know it two days, then we see him run, doing some things. As the information comes it just keeps getting better and better, and knock on wood, hopefully it'll continue to be that way. Joey's been good about it. He's got to change that dressing twice a day, and he's in here. We're doing it for him to eliminate any risk of infection. That was the biggest concern. He's doing better. We just don't want to put him out there when he's not ready to play and be able to defend himself. But at the same time, we're welcoming him back as soon as he can get back.

Q:  Is there a chance of keeping Clark Haggans on the field more even if Joey comes back?
A:  We'll see. We'll find a way to keep those guys going. I don't think you can have enough good rushers. We'll see where we're are with Joey, see how much he can jump back into and see what his conditioning is like and go from there. Clark played a good game last week and we're going to need him to play a very good game this week.

Q:  Do the Chiefs use Gonzalez the same way Baltimore used Heap?
A:  They use him differently. It's a different offense, a much different offense. This offense will spread you out, shift, motion. We're going to get some empty sets. There's no question. That's coming. At some point that is coming. It's a matter of time. They use him so much differently.

Q:  But you give them a lot to prepare for, don't you?
A:  We executed really well. We did. We're going to need to again. One of the best defenses we can have against these guys is to keep them off the field. Having the ability to run the football will be big for us and we've got to do a better job than we did last week in doing that, and I think we will.

Q:  Do they have four and five quality wide receivers?
A:  Well, they've got four wide receivers that are pretty good. We talked about Morton and Kennison and Hall. They've got this kid (Marc) Boerigter. I thought he was a tight end last year, but this kid's a good receiver, real tall kid, 6-3, about 220. They'll go empty with three receivers on the field. Just put Priest out of the backfield. They're going to do it. Not that we know how they're going to do it or how they're going to get there, but we're going to see it.

Q:  Since they have a more horizontal passing game, does that put the onus on your linebackers?
A:  I think it's everybody. The one thing you have to worry about is that you don't get exploited with match-up problems, with some of the things you're doing because they'll give you a lot of different looks. They will throw it down the field. I don't want to mislead you because they will run four guys right down the seams and they will run seam routes where the guy catches a 10- to 12-yard pass but the guy's running vertically catching the ball. I think it's going to be important from a linebacker standpoint that we're aware of what the standing formation is and not so much where people are. Last week we talked so much about being aware of where Heap is, making sure we were taking away Lewis, making sure we knew where Taylor was. It's almost reverse this week because if you get caught up worrying about people you're going to get lost because they move everybody everywhere. You just have to play the formation, the look, as opposed to playing the people.

Q:  What makes Dick Vermeil such a good coach?
A:  Dick's a guy who understands the people he has. Players I think enjoy playing for him. He's demanding but he's fair. I think he surrounds himself with very good assistant coaches. He lets those guys coach. And he adapts the system to the people he has. He brought Al Saunders from St. Louis with him and they had some of the people, so he's kind of had to build this up. He got the quarterback who knew how to run it. I think right now they're in the third year and there are a lot of people at least in their second year - Morton and Kennison now are certainly start to feel comfortable in this. Tony's starting to understand this. They got Dante Hall and now they're using him in a bit of a role, where they put him in the backfield and pitch him some. Put him in the slot. Was Priest the guy when they got there? I don't think anybody really knew. There are a lot of us who if we knew what Priest Holmes could do on a regular bases, there would've been a lot more people going after him in free agency. He's become their Marshall in a way. So he's done a good job. They've done a good job of building that offense. If they can stay healthy they proved last year they could put points on almost anybody.

Q:  Is that kind of the role Amos could fill here?
A:  I don't know if we're that offense. There's a lot of different ways to get it done. Amos is a guy who's good out of the backfield, he's very good in space. He's good for what we do. And we feel good about Jerome and Verron. Our offense is not really that offense. We feel good about what we do as I'm sure they feel good about what they do.

Q:  This is your eighth straight trip to Kansas City. What's it like going back there?
A:  It was nice the first couple of times to go back and see old friends, but it gets old. I'd like to introduce them to Pittsburgh. I guess one of these decades we'll play here. We haven't been back in two years, which is a long time for us. We understand that. It's a loud place, a great atmosphere to watch a game, they've got the chop going, they've got all that red. The crowd gets into it and it's important we start quickly. We can't allow the crowd the get into the game. If they do, it can make for a long afternoon. We'll deal with that noise. The best way to deal with that noise is how we play. If we play well early, that may be the best remedy.

Q:  How important is Casey Hampton to your defense?
A:  He's invaluable. And the thing about Casey is that he came in this year to camp and he was overweight. But I don't know if I've seen a guy work as hard as he has since that first day that we talked. I didn't want him to do it fast. I told him he needed to do about three pounds per week. Right now, he is down to where he was a year ago. He did it the right way. He did it the hard way. And he's playing well. We have him out there in our nickel package and he's giving us some push as a rusher. He had a great camp and he really is invaluable for us. He's a big guy who can use blockers, but he's also a guy who can go sideline to sideline. He's a lot quicker than you think he is for a guy that size.

Q:  Were you disappointed with the way he came in because you wanted to play him even more this season?
A:  I don't know if it was disappointing because of that. It was just disappointing because we had talked about it before he left and then we came back and he had to deal with it. When I talked to him after the run test, I liked the fact that he finished. He had to sit out one, but he came back and finished. And he recognized that. He was embarrassed by that. But he recognized what he had to do because the worst thing you can do is try to lose it too fast. It's one of those things that will zap your energy. I told him, 'Just do it three pounds per week. If you do that, we're up here for five weeks and lose that 15 that you put on, you'll be fine for the first game.' And he did it, every week. There were some short weeks and every week he'd do it. He was in here every day off, working out. He was in here on the bike with Chet. Those two got to know each other pretty well. And that's to his credit. In the 12 years that I've been here, there have been a lot of guys come in here overweight. That may have been the most impressive one. He did not miss practice. He didn't miss a weight as to how we talked about getting down there. He persistently stayed at it and it showed with where he's at and how he's playing.

Q:  I'm sure you had a vision for Riemersma, but could you have imagined it working out as well as it did?
A:  It's still and ongoing process. We played against him a lot. That was the other team we used to play a lot is Buffalo. I just remember every time we played against the guy, we had matchup problems. You try to put a linebacker on him and he can run away from him. You try to put a DB on him and he's taller than him. He was a guy who was available and you know having played against the guy that he gave you problems. When you look at this offense and what he could potentially do in it, it seemed like a natural fit. He's come in and he's done a good job with the opportunity he's been given. It's a nice problem to have, having Jeremy and Mark and those guys. It's been a position in the past we've been hard-pressed to finish with one guy and now we've got a lot of different options.

Q:  Coach, do you like your defensive line matchup with Kansas City?
A:  It's a good offensive line. Tait and Willie Roaf are two good tackles. Shields is a pretty good guard. The guards last week were a little bit younger. This is as good if not a better offensive line (than faced last week). Aaron Smith had one whale of a game last week, he played really, really well. I think Kimo played well and Casey did, but I thought Aaron played exceptional. They're going to have to do it again. We're going to need that. We've got to get some push on the pocket. We've got to get some pressure on this guy. We've got to somehow disrupt his timing. Trent's not probably the runner that Boller was. He's not as athletic as Boller, but he can move around in the pocket. We've got to put pressure on him somehow with those guys up front. At the same time, you've got a guy who will test your discipline and gap control in Holmes.

Q:  Coach, do you like the fact that as a coach that you actually have to play some tough teams (or some kind of rambling dissertation along those lines)?
A:  I guess we've got to play them at some point, we might as well do it now. It will be a good test for us. It's our first game on the road. We'll find out how we respond to a fast-break team defensively and then offensively, having to deal with the noise. This will be our first test of the year and there will be a lot more down the road. This will require a greater focus with the whole team. We've got to play smarter with the whole team and find a way to keep this thing close and maybe steal it in the fourth quarter. That's the MO going into this place because it's going to be a big challenge.

Q:  How different is the preparation for a rookie as to Trent Green?
A:  It's very different. We still want to be able to disguise things, but the most important thing for us is that we're communicating. This guy will make you pay, he'll see it. It going to be important for us that we're aware of what we're doing on defense with all the different looks. It will be a lot different from what we faced last week from a standpoint of the style of offense we're facing.

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