Steel City Sports Notebook: Unleaded or Leaded ?

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b>Mike Logan has learned a little bit about Steelers teammate James Farrior by playing next to him in the dime defense while Joey Porter recovered from his gunshot wound. <br><br> Logan learned even more about Farrior after Logan ran out of gas on a downtown street earlier this week. <br><br> First, the dime.

Farrior leads the Steelers in tackles while playing on a full-time basis for the first time. But with Porter due back, should Farrior, the Steelers tackles leader, remain the team's drop linebacker with Porter moving back to rush end?

"Anytime a guy's out there creating plays and making things happen, you've got to keep him out there," Logan said. "I know he's excited about all his opportunities, and he's playing really well right now. Hopefully he can keep that high level of play and keep this defense charged up." Logan was asked if he's become friends with Farrior.

"We talk every now and then," Logan said. "But we took a couple steps back the other day. He left me stranded. I ran out of gas and he didn't help me out, so I told him (Wednesday) we took a couple steps back."

Logan explained that he had run out of gas on Penn Avenue and called On-Star for help, but Farrior and Plaxico Burress didn't know that when they saw Logan and pulled over.

"You know, I always try to stretch that extra mile," Logan said. "But he said, 'Hey you're too grown (up) to be running out of gas.'

"No, him and Plax, they looked at me and said, 'What are you doing running out of gas?' And then they pulled out. They just pulled over to laugh at me."

Logan still found plenty of good things to say about Farrior.

"He's a stand-up guy, a good guy," Logan said. "But if he ever runs out of gas, I won't be there."

The Bengals are 0-2 for the eighth time in the past 13 seasons, and the team is practically begging its fans not to give up on them, particularly with the Steelers and their sizable following coming to town.

Said new Coach Marvin Lewis: "The guys felt the atmosphere (at Oakland). They loved it. We need to have that atmosphere this week because this is a special week, and we've got to quit having all the people giving their tickets away to those people from up the river. You know what I'm saying?"

How good are the Bengals? Well, they lost at Oakland last week but out gained the Raiders, 416-237. And they've apparently won over some of their hardened media.

"Given the opponent, the location and the circumstance, it was the best Bengals game in 12 years," wrote veteran Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty, who added: "Nobody fouled the air by saying how hard everyone tried."

Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward agreed. "They're 0-2 but they don't look like an 0-2 team on film," he said. "We're looking forward to the challenge, and we're looking forward to going and seeing our fans down in their stadium because our fans like to show up big in Cincinnati."

Last week, Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith wondered why so many expected the Kansas City Chiefs to spread their skill players in passing formations at the expense of running back Priest Holmes.

Well, Smith's wondering about it again, even though it was the Bengals who exposed the Steelers' secondary problems at the end of the 2001 season.

"Do you spread it out when you have Cory Dillon in the backfield?" Smith asked. "I mean, two years ago when we went into overtime they spread it out on us. So we thought last year they'd spread it out on us but they came in and ran the ball, or tried to run it. This week you don't know. You really don't."

Even though Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna (567) ranks second in the AFC in passing yards behind Tommy Maddox (596), and Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson (226) ranks third in the AFC in receiving yards behind Ward (237) and Burress (231), and Bengals flanker Peter Warrick tied his career high last Sunday with 109 receiving yards, expect the Bengals to give the ball to Dillon as often as they can.

Last week, Dillon rushed for 84 yards on 19 carries against the Raiders. He left the game in the first half with a hyper extended right knee. He had 71 yards on 16 carries at time. Dillon returned to the game in the third quarter and will play Sunday.

"The only thing that can keep me out of this game is if the Lord himself came down," Dillon said.

Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton, following the 23-20 loss to the Raiders: "I think this is going to be the turning point in our season. If we turn this into a win next week, which we expect to do, everybody's going to look back on this and say this is how we're supposed to play."

Jim Wexell

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