Yesterday, Cowher ruled them out. Riemersma will be replaced by Jerame Tuman and Smith will be replaced by Alan Faneca, who moves over from left guard for the second consecutive game. ">
Yesterday, Cowher ruled them out. Riemersma will be replaced by Jerame Tuman and Smith will be replaced by Alan Faneca, who moves over from left guard for the second consecutive game. ">

Notebook: Down and out on the South Side

<b>PITTSBURGH –</b> Soon after Steelers Coach Bill Cowher announced left tackle Marvel Smith (shoulder) and tight end Jay Riemersma (knee) were doubtful for Sunday's game, Cowher updated it to "very doubtful."<br><br> Yesterday, Cowher ruled them out. Riemersma will be replaced by Jerame Tuman and Smith will be replaced by Alan Faneca, who moves over from left guard for the second consecutive game.

Prior to the Steelers' Oct. 12 game at Denver, Faneca hadn't played left tackle since high school. On Sunday, Faneca will be matched up against Grant Wistrom, a 272-pound end known more for his motor than his speed. The St. Louis Rams' other end, speedy Leonard Little, would figure to give Faneca more trouble.

"That's probably the biggest difference of me moving from guard to tackle, someone trying to beat me off the edge," Faneca said. "That's the real difference in my pass protection that I've been getting used to."

Steelers Coach Bill Cowher said Wednesday that Smith was "getting stronger but not to the point where we can put him in there with contact."

Cowher shrugged his shoulders when asked if Smith might miss the rest of the season. Faneca didn't want to think about that possibility.

"I'm just approaching it this week," he said. "I know this week is the first time it's actually been specifically said, so I get to dedicate my sole preparation to left tackle. I'm not watching guard and tackle and watching two people in film study."

In the last game, Faneca played both line positions. He had the option of moving back to guard for certain plays, and could possibly do so again on Sunday.

"I wouldn't put it past us the way we're going to approach the game," he said. "I wouldn't doubt it."

Does that tip the Steelers' hand?

"You keep them guessing," Faneca said. "You don't know what I'm doing over there. If you're going to play the run all of the sudden because I'm going to guard, your corners had better be good."

WEIGHING IN ON BETTIS
The Steelers, of course, will start Jerome Bettis at halfback Sunday in place of Amos Zereoue. Here's a sampling of opinion on the move:

  • Alan Faneca – "I'm not picking sides or anything but it's good to see him in the lineup because you've been so used to seeing him there … and you feel good for him. He's getting his opportunity to go back in there and kind of re-prove himself because people have been kind of talking about how he's at the end of his career and whatnot. I think that's kind of been a fire inside of him for awhile."
  • Dan Kreider – "Jerome's more of a downhill runner. He's a bigger back. In some cases he's going to get a couple yards even with guys on the edge. In that way I think it's a positive thing. I think right now we feel, as an offensive team, we need to run right at people. I think that's our best bet."
  • Hines Ward – "No comment."
  • Amos Zereoue – "I don't agree with it but, hey, he's the coach and he makes the decision and I just work here."
  • Jerome Bettis – "We've got to show up first. Just because you make a switch and put this guy in it doesn't mean you can run the football."

QUICK HITTERS
Since the bye week was instituted in 1990, the Steelers are 8-6 in games following their week off. Under Cowher, they are 7-5 following the bye. Of late, the Steelers have won three of their last four games following the bye, including last season's 16-13 win against the Cleveland Browns. … On the Rams' injury front, outside linebacker Tommy Polley is out with a dislocated elbow, and a few players listed as questionable aren't expected to play. According to a source in St. Louis, safety Adam Archuleta (ankle), cornerback Travis Fisher (groin) and running back Lamar Gordon (ankle) will miss the game. Marshall Faulk (hand/knee) has practiced this week and might be able to play in an emergency.


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