Bill Cowher Press Conference Transcript

<b>BILL COWHER</b> <br><br> OK, just a couple of roster updates. We released Shane Walton this morning and we're in the process of placing Kendall (Simmons) and Zamir Cobb on injured reserve. If it doesn't get done today it'll probably be done tomorrow. Zamir suffered a fractured ankle, had successful surgery yesterday, so he will be done obviously for the year.

Now, at this time, the only two players that I have that will be out of the game Thursday night number one is Kendrick Clancy, still with the calf, and he's about a week away, and the second one will be Clark Haggans. Clark's fingers are doing fine. There's been no setback. As a precautionary measure he'll practice this week but we'll keep him out of the full contact Thursday night. The other guys, we'll see how it goes during the week with Kendrell (Bell) and Terry Fair. Those two I would say are questionable as we speak today. Everyone else should be ready to go.

Who will start for Haggans? Alonzo Jackson?

Are you looking for any linemen or any other players at this point?
Well, we're always looking at the wire, but I wouldn't say we're actively pursuing anything at this point.

When will Kendall undergo surgery?
I'm not sure at this point. I don't know. It's going to be done at some point but I don't know if we've actually come to a date yet.

Has he had a second opinion yet?
Dr. (James) Andrews has looked at the MRI, yes.

Has it confirmed what everybody expected?

Is keeping Kendrell out a precautionary measure?
Hopefully not. Again, we'll see where he is by Thursday.

What is his injury? A shoulder?
Yes. There's no rotator-cuff tear. There are just some arthritic things in there. Hopefully it's getting stronger.

How long will you go with your starters?
Pretty much the same plan as last week. Again, we'll count the snaps and give them a half if need be. We pretty much cut it short the other night because of circumstance, but we're looking at a half.

Didn't you go longer in the third game last year?
I don't think I've ever gone into the third quarter. Sometimes I've had to with certain guys.

Are you more reluctant to use them longer because they've been doing well and/or because of injuries?
Probably both. I feel like a full half at this point is important. I want them to get to playing. At the same time, I'm not so much worried about injuries but we need to evaluate some of the other guys. There are going to be some tough decisions to make in terms of some of these back-up positions. Sometimes you may stick a guy in there early because sometimes you have to take into consideration who they're playing against as well. So we may insert a few players early in the game to see what they've done against people in the second halves of games, can they do that in the first half against quality people? I think you're trying to find out about your team, and also from the standpoint if things are going well, you feel good about where your units are, get them out of there.

Do you think about using some of the bubble guys with the first team?
Well, that's what I said. Again it's done subjectively. I think you have to take that into consideration. We've tried to do that. We may look at that again this week in doing that, not to get specific with anything. But you'd like to see, if a guy starts to do some things in the second halves of preseason games, can he do those same things in the first half of preseason games? Again it's all part of trying to gather the information to make the right decision because there are going to be some tough decisions to be made to get down to 53.

Does every coach worry about cutting a guy another team will pick up?
Oh there is. What's a strength for you can be a dire shortage for another team. Every decision you're making, there's a chance, with 31 other teams out there, that if you're even thinking about keeping that guy, that could be on another team a need area. That's why you want to make sure you're keeping the right guys.

The Eagles need running backs don't they?
Yeah, there are a few other teams that need them, too -- the team we just played. These are nice problems to have. They really are. I'd much rather have a hard time cutting a player here than all of the sudden finding you could cut a lot of these players and have a lot of roster openings, so these are nice issues to have.

Would you prefer to put guys right on practice squad without waiving them?
Yeah, I think with keeping a couple of extra practice squad guys this year, I think you're going to be able find that be the case. That 53rd guy, I mean, you may lose a guy here or there but if you can't keep him on the 53, you're risking some and some of it's going to be potential, but I like having the extra guys we can keep around. We go from 65, in essence down to 60. I mean hopefully you can keep seven practice squad guys that are still with you all of camp. Hopefully that will be the case. But at the same time, you look around to see if you can update yourself as well.

What does Philadelphia do for you?
A little bit of a gauge, a little bit of a barometer where you are. A little bit of a hostile environment in Philly. It will be a good setup for us. It's kind of like, this game to me, obviously to a lesser degree, like when we go to Baltimore, second game of the season. We're going to a playoff team, a quality football team that has high expectations. Quality teams like we played last year. We played Dallas and Philadelphia, Dallas and Carolina to finish out the season. Those are three pretty good teams and we came out of the blocks pretty well. I'd rather play some of these teams that have the high expectations, the high standards. That's where we feel like we should be, and we'll gauge that. I don't have any say-so in the preseason [scheduling]. I don't have as much influence as you think.

What about your linebackers? They don't have any sacks. Are you happy with the pass rush so far?
Yeah. I'd like to see it be better. Some of it has been circumstantial, but at the same time I'd like to see it over the next couple of weeks pick up a notch. Not so much the sacks, it's the pressure part of it. I want to see some pressure. You're not going to get sacks against a three-step passing team. I know last week, we had some pressure against (Mike) McMahon and he was their best running back that day. It's the pressure element of it. I don't like to see quarterbacks sitting out there and having all day to throw. That to me is a problem. Now, if you don't have a sack but you're putting pressure on the quarterback and you're forcing and hurrying throws, you're getting quarterbacks throwing off their back foot. That's being effective. So it's not just measured in sacks but I'd still like to see us get some pressure.

Is Dick holding back little bit in the preseason?
Maybe a little.

Your line playing well, no sacks allowed?
Yeah, they're playing well. We haven't thrown a lot of passes but when we have thrown it, I think they are playing well.

Keydrick Vincent play well the other night?
Outside of him going the wrong way on the one play, I thought he played pretty solid. He's had a very good camp. He'll have a very good test this week in Jevon (Kearse). He's done fine. He's played very well.

Jevon on strong side?
I saw him there the other night, yeah.

Do you think Duce is looking forward to Thursday night?
I would imagine so. I think he's looking forward to going back. He's probably even more looking forward to the regular-season game.

Will Duce start Thursday?
I believe that will be the case. We haven't really sat down and talked about anything. But more than likely.

Get Duce involved more?
No. It's still the third preseason game.

How has he performed and gone about his business?
He's been great. He's been the consummate pro, he's played very well. I know he wasn't real happy about the rotation the other night. But I like his approach to the game.

How much does pass rush have to do with guys still learning from Dick LeBeau?
Oh, I don't think I'd say it had much to do with it. It's not like we're out there thinking that much. We've had some mental errors, but I don't think it's so much the scheme.

If Duce is your starter, will he play on third downs?
We'll have to sit and look at it. I think, again, we're projecting a little far right now. That's hard to say.

Do you have a philosophical belief in that one way or the other?
No, I really don't. In the past, it's been Jerome (Bettis) and he's just not a third-down back. I'm not set to say 'OK we have two backs.' I'd like to keep people involved but certainly I want to keep the best players out there, for sure.

Will special teams play help determine those final roster spots?
It will have a lot to do with it. It's a very important phase and we do not take it lightly around here. I didn't feel like we played up to our capabilities the other night. I wasn't very happy with that. It will have a lot to do with it and they know it. We sat there this morning and we watched every special-teams tape, as a football team, and we pointed out what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. It will have a lot to do with the makeup of this football team, no doubt about it.

Has Antwaan Randle El stepped forward in this camp?
Randle El has had a good camp. I don't think there's any question about those three receivers. Those top three receivers are quality receivers. Lee (Mays) has had a good camp. I know he dropped the one the other night, but he's had a solid camp. And Chris Doering is Mr. Dependable. It's too bad about Zamir. He was having a good camp. Freddie Milons has done so as well. We probably haven't thrown the ball as much as they would like, but I think when you look at the blocking part - Huey Whittaker came in and had a huge block the other night that sprang Willie Parker on the run. To me that was as good as any catch that was made. It was a big-time play. These guys are unselfish and El's had a good camp.

Would you say you've had a good camp?
To this point, they've responded. We're not done yet, this is an important week. We're going to go out in full pads today and we're going to hit today. They've responded. I like the way we're approaching games. We're starting to have an idea of where the mindset needs to be. We're still a long way from where we need to be, but I like the way that we're playing.

What about you, personally?
Personally? I haven't run as much as camps past. I've probably put on a couple of pounds, so it hasn't been one of my better camps.

You just seem to be more involved.
I don't know if I'm more. I just want us to get the right mindset. Maybe the last couple of years we've gotten away from some things. It's kind of like a refocusing that needed to be done. I like where we are as we speak and certainly we have a way to go, but it's been a more focused camp.

In year's past you focused on other stuff, like last year was turnovers on offense, a specific element you wanted to improve. This year, there wasn't any of that.
No. Let's just play football. Those other things are going to happen. There's ebb and flow in a season and ebb and flow in a game, but the one thing there should never be any ebb and flow to is how you play the game: That's being fast, being physical, being decisive and living with the mistakes that are made. Learn from them, grow from them, but don't let them alter how you play the game. So yeah, I've probably been a little more general speaking as opposed to specifically pointing to things and that has been by design.

You mentioned Ross and Kearse, how are you going to handle Terrell Owens. Will everyone get a shot to cover him?
We're going to play our defense. He's a good football player and we're still in developing stages right now. This is a good football team with a lot of good players and we're see how we match up with them. We'll be aware of the quarterback. They've got a very good offensive line and this will be a good test for us.

Talking about that refocus, does it help that your team got younger and you've got some guys you can mold?
Yeah. Every year you have a different team and you have to approach your team every year based on what you have and what you're going with. It's not a veteran team like we've had in the past where you could talk about certain things, do certain things. You've got to get a gauge of your team, of where you're at and take an approach to it. And that can change from year to year. Again, where we are this year is based on where we finished up last year. Let's face it, every year is a new opportunity, but you are where you finished. That's where we're starting from. Refocusing needed to be done with everybody, myself included. You sit back, you see where you are and you know where you need to be and go. And you take the approach you think is appropriate and that's where we are today.

Did you like what you saw out of Verron Haynes the other night?
Verron ran hard, he did, and probably got better as the game went on. He hasn't had a lot of carries. But I think you see him run harder, quicker and see things a little better the more he got into the game. We had a chance to see all of our backs. I wasn't anticipating that many plays it just seemed like it worked out. We had over 45 plays in the first half, so the guys got all their plays in early.

He's not lacking for confidence.
I hope there aren't many players on our team that lack confidence. If you lack confidence at this point, that's not a good sign. Certainly you need to be objective and you need to be realistic about yourself, but he should be. He's a good running back and he plays good in the kicking game. He's got to be able to do that as well because we need somebody to step up there. And we're getting some guys. You just can't be a one-game flash. I want to know what we're going to get each week. And that's what we're looking for, not just with rookies, veterans. What are you going to bring to the table every week? That to me is what separates people. You can have a good game and flash because you might have a good match-up that isn't there the next week. But what can you do consistently? That is the mark, to me, of a player who can separate himself from the pack.

What did you think of Larry Foote and Alonzo Jackson?
Larry Foote's had a good camp. He's been very, very productive. Alonzo has been very solid. But Larry's had an excellent, excellent camp.

You took a long look at Drew Caylor the other night at long-snapper.
He's fine. He's good. On the short snaps he did, I know he's a little bit more inconsistent with it on the rhythm than Mike (Schneck) is. Aaron (Smith) felt like he was in that 3-point stance forever, which is a good thing, that was not Drew's fault. He kind of mixes it up. He kind of holds the ball a little while longer.

Is that a battle there?
Yeah, oh yeah. There's a battle at a lot of places, trust me.

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