Transcript: Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Cowher

<b>Latrobe: Coach Bill Cowher: </b>The first thing I want to do is bring you up to date on Charlie Batch. A few days ago we set him down because he had some fluid in his knee. It's been a previously surgical knee, so we thought it was just the wear and tear of just practice. We had it drained and it really didn't feel better yesterday, which was 24 hours after being drained.

He went in this morning for an MRI. The MRI showed he's got a loose body in his knee. Right now we'll wait and see what that will entail. It's probably a minimum of two or three weeks but I think until - (team physician) Jim (Bradley) and Charlie may seek a second opinion - we'll wait and see what the process entails before we give you any further update. But he will be out for this game.

The other players that will not play in this game Saturday are Chad Scott, who's doing better with the ab strain and he'll probably start working Monday or Tuesday. Deshea Townsend, who last night got a groin pull that's not severe but it's significant and so he will not play and we'll check his status next week. It could be mid-week before he works again. Kendrick Clancy is still out with the calf. He's doing better. He's off the crutches and moving around but he's still two or three weeks away. Jerame Tuman, who is still on PUP, will come off and start practicing full go on Monday. Eric Taylor will not play with the hamstring. He should be working Monday. David Upchurch will not play. He's got an ankle and he will probably start working Monday or Tuesday. Shane Walton will not play with a back strain. He's feeling significantly better but he probably will start working next week. Clark Haggans will get the pins out and will be evaluated Monday and actually we're going to move it up and the pins should be taken out probably Tuesday. I think at that point, once they do take the pins out, we'll check the finger, the union, if it's solid. I'll know more next week. Obviously the early prognosis is there's an outside chance he may be playing in the Houston game. Everything looks very good to this point. Chris Hope (shoulder) will not play in the game, but he's practiced and done everything out there but we're going to hold him out of the contact for this game and he should be ready to go full speed next week. The only other player who's questionable at this time is Nathaniel Adibi. He's got a low back, but he's going to try to work today. We'll know more about him on Saturday. The starters will play approximately a quarter and then we'll have an opportunity to get most of the players in the game.

Reporter: When will Ben Roethlisberger play?
BC: We really haven't sat down as a staff yet to talk about it. We'll try to get through and see what the health situation is, but given the situation with Charlie's status I would anticipate Ben playing and Tommy (Maddox) probably playing a quarter and Ben and Brian (St. Pierre) playing the rest, and probably in that order. We haven't sat down and we haven't talked about the running back situation either, but the starters will be in there for basically a quarter.

Reporter: Will you have a lot of young defensive backs playing Saturday?
BC: Yeah. They have made some strides and certainly I've been very pleased. The young corners are going to have a chance to play a lot in this game. You saw where we ended up with Chad and Deshea and at the end of last season and we'll get a chance to see the young corners play. It will be good for us to do that. And then the two safeties: Troy (Polamalu) has had a good camp and so has Chris. I know he's been out of some of the contact things but he really has been out there for most of everything else, even the last couple of days. He's been kind of smart about the contact part of it. The communication is so vital back there and that's what's been good, particularly with those two young safeties. I think that's the thing that's encouraging.

Reporter: How much of Dick LeBeau's new schemes will be used?
BC: We're capable of playing a lot. When it's called and when it's executed may not be one and the same with some of the young guys. I think again that we've thrown a lot at them and we're doing a lot. I think the most important thing as we go into this game is that we want to be able to see these guys play football. We certainly don't want to get to the point where they're out there thinking too much. I think we'll keep it pretty generic for the most part. Some of the young guys that you have out there, we want them to be able to feel comfortable and play hard, play fast and not be thinking too much.

Reporter: Does Ricardo Colclough still have a lot to learn?
BC: We've thrown a lot at him. He's been in there at the nickel back and we really didn't hold anything back. Considering where he came from, I've been really pleasantly surprised that he's able to pick it up as quickly as he has. Yes, he's made some mistakes and, yes, with all the things our offense does with the shifts, the motions and some of the formations we've had, it's kind of run together a little bit with him at times. The thing we've done with him is just try to get him to where he's going to have some versatility to him so we can get him on the field and allow him to play. We can always pull back a little bit if we feel it's an overload, but I've been very pleased with his ability to comprehend everything and I think he's on track.

Reporter: But you do notice his physical skills?
BC: Yeah, I think with a lot of these young kids sometimes there's a degree of hesitancy that's there because of all the thinking, and sometimes it doesn't allow them to be as quick. Now you do see flashes of it and I think that's the thing you see with some of these young guys, you see them flash. You call a play or a defense where they know exactly what to do and they're running fast, but sometimes that's few and far between and it matches with the right formation where there's not a lot of motion or shifting and they actually know what they're doing when the ball is snapped. That's why practice is so valuable for them to be on the field. It's hard to repeat that, even with the quarterback. Ben can't see enough of our defense. It's going to help him in the long run. With any young player you're seeing flashes of them. I think that's what we want to see Saturday night. Keep it simple and hopefully be able to see what they really are as players when they're comfortable.

Reporter: Has Ike Taylor made the strides you expected?
BC: So far he has. A lot of these guys, I'm really looking forward to watching them playing a game. It's one thing to be in practice, a controlled environment. When you get into a game it's rapid-fire. I'm looking forward to seeing how a lot of guys respond to that. To this point he's done a lot of good things and he's practicing against some pretty good players and it's a learning experience every day for him. It's something I think he's just soaking up. This will be a good chance to go against a couple of pretty good receivers in (Charlie) Rogers and (Roy) Williams this week. We'll see if he can take it to the game speed.

Reporter: Will Ike and Ricardo play more than a quarter?
BC: Oh yeah. Like I said, we haven't really sat down and talked as a staff how we're going to start. I'm not so sure we'll put Ike and Ricardo out there to start the game. Willie Williams is here and we may start with Willie a little bit, but you will see a lot of Ike and Ricardo.

Reporter: What other young guys have showed you flashes?
BC: Well, I guess you can go right down the line. I tell you who's had a good camp is Brian St. Pierre. He's thrown the ball very well at times; then you look at the running back situation with Willie Parker and Dante (Brown), Verron (Haynes); you look at the receivers and (Zamir) Cobb from Temple; defensively, a couple of those outside linebackers and obviously the secondary and some of the defensive linemen. Travis Kirshke has fit in very well in this scheme. He's played well. Chris Hoke's had a good camp. Brett Keisel was inactive most of last year so I want to kind of see his development. There are a lot of guys you want to look at, not just offense and defense but in the kicking game. That's going to be very important. There are a lot of guys who had opportunities a year ago and are now stepping up into starting roles, Troy and Clark, they were integral parts of that kicking game and some of the younger players are going to have to step up and kind of seize that role.

Reporter: Have you decided on anything at running back yet or do you have to wait and see how Jerome and Duce are?
BC: We really haven't sat down and talked about it. We'll sit down and talk about it here when we get done with practice, if we practice. We'll do that a little closer to the game.

Reporter: Has Alonzo given you reason to think he's more than just a caretaker for that position?
BC: I never looked at him as that. That may be a term you used. That's not a real compliment, I think. He's played real well. He's been physical and I think you look at last night. It might have been his best practice. He did a lot of good things. It was a good practice overall on both sides. He's getting invaluable playing time right now and I'm looking forward to seeing him play in this game so he can have the opportunity to take it from the practice field to the game. That's the one thing he's missed. He's fought through it. He had an injury earlier and he missed maybe one day. He sees the opportunity that's there and I like the way he's approaching it.

Reporter: Is there anything about St. Pierre, the way he's handled the whole situation with the guys ahead of him on the depth chart?
BC: He's handled it like he should. You can't worry about things you have no control over. Brian's come out there and he's obviously more comfortable in the system calling plays, running plays. His decision-making, the group of receivers he's working with. I think it's a comfort level and confidence there now that probably in you first year, you're a little overwhelmed with everything. It will be interesting to see how he played in the game and how it transfers from a practice to game.

Reporter: Is there a priority list for the first game?
BC: Most important is seeing you guys play in the game. I think that's the biggest thing. There are going to be some tough decisions to make in keeping a 53-man roster that we have to gather information. There's a lot that's going to go into it as far as players being versatile, how they fit into certain roles. And to do that, you've got to gather information. I think the most important thing is to see some of the younger players in a game and creating some continuity with your first units on both sides of the ball. That will come importance-wise the closer you get to the first game. This is an opportunity to see how some of these young guys start to play when the speed's a little faster. Everything we've seen to this point in mini-camp and the offseason program and training camp, it's all a controlled environment. A game is fast. It's unpredictable. And you see how players respond in that situation. That can tell a lot about a player. Those are some of the unknowns you have about these guys who you have some initial impressions of. Now you see how they can take it to the next level.

Reporter: How high of a priority is winning?
BC: Winning is always important in everything you do. I don't think you play any sport not to win. Certainly we aren't going to put players back in to win a game. But if we're ahead in the game, I want to run the football and control the clock. If we're behind, we have to be able to throw it and move the ball in a one-minute situation. Winning is a priority every time you go out. We'll never play any game not to win. At the same time, you're not going to do that at the expense of what you're trying to get out of the game which is to evaluate a lot of your players.

Reporter: What's your feeling about the offensive line in general and Oliver Ross in particular?
BC: It's night and day from a year ago. You put the first group out there and it's been the same guys every practice. That's probably the kiss of death I just gave them. It's been very good. And Oliver's had a solid camp. Barrett Brooks has had a good camp as has Todd Fordham and Max Starks is getting better every day. Keydrick Vincent has played well and Chukky has. And Jones has come in and has kind of caught my eye because I didn't know much about him before. But he's been solid. It's been very deep. They've played well. I'd like to gather some information now that we're going to play some games.

Reporter: (For the 10th time) Is playing a preseason game a chance to get a look at a young guy like Max Starks in a game situation?
BC: Oh yeah. Like I said, for a lot of these guys, with all the rookies and first-year guys, how they're going to translate that confidence - the Ike and Alonzos - can they take that and go out there and let's see how they perform now. How real is it? The game is a great opportunity to see how guys respond with it not being practice, but it being a different team and not as comfortable a situation.

Reporter: With the enforcement of the chuck rule, is this where you see what you can get away with on both sides of the ball?
BC: I think that's going to take care of itself. Any rule is just getting a feel for the game. A lot of times, it's going to depend on what crew you get and how they call the game. A lot of times they get mandates during the course of the season that the league wants to come down on, whether it be illegal contact or holding. You've got to get a feel for the game. I always relate it to the NBA. If they're going to call hand checks, then you can't hand check. Some people call it more than others. It depends on what crew you have and you have to get a feel for it.

Reporter: Did you see the game the other night?
BC: Yeah.

Reporter: Was there a discernible difference to you?
BC: No. I thought the calls that were called in that game would have been called last year as well. If they're going to call it tight, there will be some contact where you didn't feel there was a whole lot affected. I think that will be the biggest one. But we'll see. I don't want to pass judgment until we experience it. I may be eating my words in about three weeks.

Reporter: Was this a rule that you wondered why they weren't enforcing it before?
BC: No. In 1996 or 1997, we had a meeting where the (competition) committee felt people were getting away with squatting on routes and bumping receivers down the field. It's almost like one of those things that you have to do every seven or eight years. You have to go back to get everyone from feeling so comfortable back there. That's my interpretation. But I feel like this is something that was done in the past. You'll see the calls will go up and guys will be a lot more conscious of it. I think it's something they'll do periodically.

Reporter: Is there a heightened sense of wanting to see Ben play because he's a No. 1 pick and a quarterback?
BC: Probably for the fans that's true. I think for Ben. We don't ever hit the quarterback in practice, we do pull off at times. That's the one position where it's hard to simulate the game speed. Other positions, you're hitting with full contact in the 9-on-7s. The wide receivers and DBs are going full speed. But the quarterback position is hard to simulate the rush he's going to experience for the first time and really the speed he's going to experience for the first time at this level. He's not going to get overwhelmed by it. If there's one thing I like about him, it's the way he approaches the game. He runs around in practice and improvises and makes plays. I think the biggest thing for him is that, Kenny (Whisenhunt) is not standing next to him in the huddle, and getting that ball snapped before the 40-second clock expires. He's been getting better every day. I think he's looking forward to it. He certainly will not be overwhelmed by it. I can say that with certainty about him.

Reporter: Is it a priority at all to get him some time with Ward and Burress?
BC: No. It's not a priority.

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