Cowher transcript

<b>Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach BILL COWHER</b><br> First of all, Kendall Simmons is getting an MRI as we speak. I won't have a further update on him probably at some point later today.

But he is out for this game, as is Kendrick Clancy with a calf, Terry Fair with a hamstring and Clark Haggans with the finger. Also, Kendrell Bell is going to be out for this game with a shoulder. He has some tendonitis in there and we're bringing him back from that but he will not play in the game Saturday night. Two players are probable: Shane Walton with a back and Chad (Scott) with his ab strain. I think we're going into this game looking for our starters to play into the second quarter and hopefully getting between 20 and 35 snaps, somewhere in that area. That's kind of the plan going in.

Q: Did Kendall experience swelling?
BC: Yes there was some this morning.

Q: How did Clark Haggans come out of practice yesterday?
BC: Fine. He's going to be re-evaluated Saturday to make sure everything is fine, but we're not going to play him Saturday night.
Will Keydrick Vincent start at guard?

BC: Correct.

Q: Kendrell Bell seems to be missing a lot of time after missing minicamp. Is that frustrating you?
BC: No. I think it's frustrating him as much as anything. Certainly we want to have him out there but we're trying to deal with the injuries that he has and work with it accordingly.

Q: Has Zamir Cobb made the receiving cuts a bit of an issue?
BC: I think he has. Zamir's had a very good camp. You look at the group we have coming back from last year with obviously the three top guys - Plax (Burress), Hines (Ward) and Antwaan (Randle El) - then you look at Lee Mays, who's had a good camp, and Chris Doering, who knows every position. Then all of the sudden Zamir Cobb comes in. He's very quick in the slot. He comes down with plays short, then all of the sudden the other night he goes up and gets the ball down the middle on the big fourth-down play. Then Freddie Milons comes in and catches a touchdown pass. It really has been a deep position but he certainly has distinguished himself at that position. There's no doubt about it. We're going to try to get him some returns in. He had one the other night. We'll give him a chance to return some Saturday night as well.

Q: Does Jerome Bettis start at running back this week?
BC: That's correct.

Q: Could you move Jeff Hartings to guard or do you feel good about Keydrick?
BC: I feel good about Keydrick, but certainly we'll look at all our options. We do feel good about Keydrick but certainly that's a position Jeff's played before. We'll see what our options are.

Q: How has Jerome handled this whole situation and how has he looked physically?
BC: Well I think he's handled it as he understood his situation to be when he came back, so I don't think that's been an issue at all. Physically, he came in in great shape and I think he looks fine. I think it's a good situation back there. Both those guys didn't work yesterday and we got a chance to see the young guys. Verron (Haynes) touched the ball a lot yesterday and Dante (Brown) still gives you a little bit of that burst and I still like Willie Parker. That's three young guys and then with Duce (Staley) and Jerome, those are two good solid veteran guys.

Q: Will you use the quarterbacks the same as last week?
BC: Pretty much so, yeah. We'll see how much Kurt (Kittner) can know for us to put him in that situation. He's been here for one week. We'll see where he is, but it would be a very limited package he would have if he were to enter the game.

Q: This will be your first look at the new secondary.
BC: Yeah, it should be. Again, we've got to get some of those young kids a chance to keep playing. This will be the first time they can take the field together in a game.

Q: Troy Polamalu stays after practice a lot. How much better has he gotten?
BC: He's always the last one, but that's the way he's been since he's been here. He has had a very, very good camp. I mean this kid covers a lot of ground. Talk to Tommy (Maddox) and the quarterbacks. He may jump some things at times but he's got great instincts, great feel for the game, takes very good angles and is very fast. The guy really has had an outstanding camp. He's got a chance to be a very special player at his position.

Q: Considering his introspective personality, do you coach him differently than other guys?
BC: I think you've got to be careful not to over-coach him because of that. He understands and wants to know everything. We've given him so much, like last year, that being the way he is and really not having been around him at the time, he's one of those guys who takes great pride in knowing exactly what he's supposed to be doing. And so we threw everything at him. It probably slowed him down a little bit. In the long run it probably helped him understand this defense better and quicker. But he is a very introspective guy, kind of quiet, a witty guy. He's got a little wit to him. But he is very fast, very explosive and he's had a very good camp.

Q: Have you changed who calls the signals back there and did that responsibility slow down Troy in his first year?
BC: I think he just feels more comfortable. Sometimes one of those two guys will make a mistake. But Chris has kind of taken over a lot of that responsability, as goes with that position of free safety. But Troy is a classic case of a second-year player who's starting to feel comfortable in that system. When they start doing that, they're playing, they're reacting, they're not thinking as much. They're a little bit more outward in their mannersims. He's a classic case of that.

Q: Is Clark (Haggans) showing signs that he'll be back in the swing of things next week?
BC: Oh yeah, he'll be fine. Certainly there's some timing involved with just getting back with the rush and the timing that goes with that. He'll need some repetition with that, but he stayed pretty involved throughout camp. He's been here for over four years, so I think he'll be ready to go. It will be a short week next week, but he should be ready to go.

Q: He was talking about how his injury showed him how much he uses his hands as a linebacker, can you speak to that a little bit?
BC: The game of football is really played with your hands as a defensive player. You have to disengage people and that's hard to do if you're not using your hands. You hear all the time about defenders getting stuck on blockers. These big linemen come in and get their hands on you and it's over. That's part of good offensive line play, being able to get the hands on people, keeping them inside and then driving them. Part of defense is being able to use extension and use your hands to get those guys off of you to get the seperation so you can make a play. You see guys playing with one hand, particularly in the interior seven, it is a distinct disadvantage. It makes you appreciate that I'm sure.

Q: Do you have to get after the quarterback a little more in this game?
BC: We'll see how it unfolds.

Q: Is there anything you'll look for in this game more than you did last week (Huh?)?
BC: I want to continue to see us play with a lot of energy and bring a physicality to the game that we did a little bit last week. Hopefully we'll have a little bit less errors. And I want to see the first unit come together with a little bit more continuity. The first drive last week was pretty good, but we didn't finish it off. And on defense, they converted four third downs on their first drive so those are some things you want to look at and see get better. I'd like to see us do a lot better on third downs this week and I'd like to see us finish off some drives. And try to stay away from those foolish penalties.

Q: How has Alonzo done holding down that outside linebacker position?
BC: He's getting better all the time. Last year was a move to linebacker. He's always been on the right side. Now, you take him and you move him to the left side, it's like changing everything. It does take a couple of weeks. Everything you're doing is backward. He's getting more comfortable by the day as he gets out there. Again, this will be a big opportunity for him to play a lot of football Saturday night.

Q: Mark Bruener comes back this week and is starting for the Texans, any thoughts on that?
BC: Mark was a great contributor for our football team and I'm glad it worked out for him down there. He's a class act, great for the organization. He's a good football player and we're looking forward to playing against him. When you've been here this long, you're going to have a lot of former guys in the league. It seems like every team we play has a former player or coach. It's nothing new.

Q: Does a guy like Alonzo Jackson, being a second-round pick, get a longer chance than, say, Dedrick Roper?
BC: No. I don't look at things based on where they were drafted. I came into this league as a free agent as well. It's what you do when you're here. Dedrick has had a lot of reps, as has Alonzo. We're looking at things and as you put this roster together, you have to look at keeping the best football players. You look at a lot of things. Certainly you're going to take into consideration things as it relates to the cap. Obviously when you pick somebody in the second round as opposed to somebody who's a free agent, you're looking at what they potentially could be. At some point, potential has got to become real. You've got to gauge that in terms of where they are and where you forsee them being in the long term element of things.

Q: Is Houston going to be a good litmus test of where your offense is at?
BC: Yeah, they're going to be like going against practice. It's a 3-4 defense and we've been working against each other and it will be a continuation of the week's practice going against these guys.

Q: What about the injuries?
BC: It's part of the game. We're not the only ones going through it. Everybody's going through it. The one thing you don't want to do is alter the way you approach the game because of that. We'll be fine.

Q: Has the way you played your inside backers changed? They're a little bit lighter now. Do you need them smaller and quicker now?
BC: You want speed and they're 230 or 240. Kirkland was kind of unique.

Q: Kendrell lost like 20 pounds.
BC: I don't know if it was that much. It was probably 10 to 12 pounds and he looks good. But the biggest thing is when you have the defensive linemen we have, they do a great job of freeing those guys up to run to the ball. Casey eats up two blockers and Aaron, if you try to single him, he can be very disruptive and the same thing with Kimo. Those guys do use up a lot of the interior blocking schemes, which will free up one or both of those guys to get to the ball.

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