Coach Cowher Press Conference Transcript

<b>Bill Cowher</b><br> OK, here's a quick injury update. The only player we have out now is Tommy Maddox with his elbow. We have two players questionable, Kendrell Bell with his groin and Mike Logan with his hamstring. So we're relatively healthy going into the game Sunday and we obviously realize the importance of it. It's a divisional game, a home game and we're playing a team that a lot of people had picked to contend for this division title.

It's a very explosive offense. They're coming off a disappointing loss to Baltimore, but they've got a lot of weapons on offense and a revamped defense and I think it's going to be a very difficult game for our football team.

Coach, you mentioned a number of times the way the schedule sets up is similar, the road games, the home games. What's going to get this team over the hump unlike last year's team.
(We have a winner for the dumbest question of the year)
I don't know. I guess we'll find out. It's a different football team this year. Obviously we're coming off a big win last week on the road. I'm not into comparing this year's team to last year's team. It's way too early to do that. It's a different team. And at the same time, we're focusing on one game and looking at this one game and trying not to get caught up in looking at any big picture. Where we are as a team right now determines that it's important we do that, because every week brings on a defining moment of its own. I think the thing we have to do is not get caught up in the big picture, but look at each game and realize the importance of each one.

Kendrell Bell, is he getting any better?

Is that something similar to what he had hurt in mini-camp?
I'm not comparing it, I just know where he's at.

Is there a growing level of impatience or frustration trying to get him back out there?
When he's ready he'll go, if not, we'll go without him.

Have you been able to use Larry (Foote) in ways similar to how you planned to use Kendrell?
I'm not comparing the two. They're both good players. I think Larry Foote has stepped in and done a good job.

You didn't dress Alonzo (Jackson) last week. Was that because of the injuries?
Yeah, it had a lot to do with that. It was a situation in the secondary with Mike being out. We also had Chris Hoke up. We usually have him down, but we were thinking about the conditions with the mugginess and the heat. It's going to be a week-to-week situation. Alonzo, if something would happen would still be our third outside linebacker. But sometimes that may not transform into him being active on game day. That's just the way it is when you try to put together a 45-man roster. You look at special teams being a part of it and James Harrison has been a very integral part of that. We went with six linebackers last week. We may do it again this week, but we'll see how the week unfolds.

You're playing a team that did not play a rookie quarterback last season and you've been forced to play one this season. Is there an advantage or disadvantage to that?
Certainly when you look at Carson Palmer, playing-time wise, there's not a whole lot of difference between him and Ben (Roethlisberger). He started all three games and Ben came in partway through the second game, I think the biggest difference is that he's been through a whole training camp in that same system. He's been through a whole season preparation wise within that system and so that certainly I think he's more comfortable and further along in a preparation standpoint than Ben would be in our system, just based on a time standpoint. Carson, when you watch him on film, he's got good mobility. He sees the field well. He's making good decisions. And like I said, he's got a lot of weapons around him and he looks very comfortable in that offense.

You've had a chance to look at the game from Sunday night. Could you comment on Ben Roethlisberger's performance?
I thought, as I said after the game, he made good decisions outside of the first pass he made. He managed the game very well. He's got a good presence in the pocket, that's the one thing that you see with the guy. When he gets out of there, he's not just running, he's doing it for a good reason. There were a couple of times when we got him out of the pocket by design. I thought he played a solid game, managed it well and made good decisions. The guys made some plays for him. I think you saw Plaxico (Burress) on the first play, he was so wide open, he just didn't want to miss it. If he throws it as far as he can, Plax probably catches it on the run. Plax did a great job of adjusting and coming back to get that ball. He made a lot of good decisions and I thought he played a solid game.

Did your young secondary make some pretty big strides?
Yeah, we did. But let's be honest. That was not a very good offense with all due respect. I think that we'll get a good test this weekend. This is a good offense that's got some weapons. I talk about Chad Johnson, he's one of the premiere receivers in the NFL. They've got Kelley Washington, T.J. Houshmanzadeh (garbled), you know him, 84. It's a good group of receivers that understand that offense and (Cincinnati offensive coordinator) Bob Bratkowski does a good job of spreading it around. We're going to get tested. I don't want to go up and down and pass judgment on everyone on the team every week. We're still growing, we're still learning and I think a lot has still got to be determined with our team.

What did the Ravens do to them?
Made a couple of interceptions. (Ed) Reed made a couple of interceptions. And they got down there had to kick some field goals. The Ravens played pretty good red zone defense.

When they lost (Corey) Dillon did they lose much?
Rudi Johnson has run very well. You can tell how good they feel about him. (Chris) Perry hasn't had a chance to do a whole lot because Rudi's been the guy. They've got a very solid offense because they're moving the ball. Maybe they're not scoring as much as they like, but they haven't had to punt very much.

Will we see a skip in (defensive coordinator) Dick LeBeau's step this week?
Dick's been around. He's been with a bunch of teams. You've been around coach LeBeau, he doesn't get too riled up about anything. He'll take it pretty much in stride.

Can you talk about how physical your team was and how it set the tone?
It was. We played a good game from that standpoint. We have a lot of players who have the ability to separate themselves and they did that. I think Joey Porter played his best game. Certainly Troy (Polamalu) and Chris Hope continue to grow as players. Chad (Scott) again played very solid. Deshea (Townsend) played solid. Ricardo (Colclough) really didn't get challenged much but he played solid when he was in there. The front line, I thought played well. Casey (Hampton) came back and played a solid game. And (James) Farrior was all over the field. We had some guys who played very, very well. But doing it in one game is one thing, but doing it week-in and week-out is what separates units, it separates players. And I think that we will be challenged this week by a team that has a lot more potential explosion than the one we just played.

Is Cincinnati's run defense just running into some elite running backs in (Curtis) Martin and (Jamal) Lewis - not the Martin and Lewis - or is there something you can take advantage of?
I think Martin and Lewis had a lot to do with it. Lewis is going to do that to a lot of teams. You stop him and stop him and they probably stopped him pretty good except for a couple of runs, but that's what you seem to say about him every game. I think that Curtis Martin, (the Jets) have run the ball very well in their first two games as well. You have to be really careful to draw too many judgments this early in the season, good and bad, about our team, about opponents. Four or five weeks into the season, you have a better handle on certain trends that may be happening. Are they one-game wonders or are they one-game things that you're looking at? Until they do things consistently, you have to wait until you address some of those things.

As defenses get more film on Ben (Roethlisberger) do you expect them to come up with different ways to defend him?
I don't know if it's so much with Ben as it is that you know with him he's going to continue to get tested. He's going to get the pressure with blitzes and I think it's going to be defending our offense, I'd like to think. We're not building this whole offense around Ben, but at the same time, he's an integral part of this offense. There are a lot of good people around him. It's important he manages the game and what we're asking him to do and if he continues to do that, we'll continue to grow as a team.

Did you reduce the number of plays in the gameplan for him?
Maybe certain elements of it we have, yeah. But the other night, the elements played into it as well.

You have an imbalance in your receiving yards. Does that matter?
No. I think the important thing it's not designed to feature any one person. I think sometimes, a lot of it has to do with what teams are doing and what they're giving you.

Are they singling Hines (Ward)?
I don't know if there's any one trend. We'll wait and see what the next three weeks bring and then we'll have a sense of what teams are trying to do. Teams are trying to figure us out because we're trying to figure ourselves out. If they look at us with an identity, they're creating it. We're still trying to establish one ourselves.

How does Plax look off the ball? A lot of people look at the stats.
He's doing well. He's played well. He's doing the things we want him to do. He's drawing attention and between Hines and Plax and (Antwaan Randle) El we have three quality receivers. We feel like we have some backs who are quality backs and we want to establish the running game and play ball control. And maybe if we run the ball, we can do some play action and get the ball down the field. We're still evolving from that standpoint, but he has played very well.

Were you happy with your kickers considering the conditions?
Yeah. I thought Chris Gardocki played well. He came back after having not so good a week against Baltimore I thought he was good. I think Jeff (Reed) has to become a more consistent kicker. I understand the conditions of the field, but he has been inconsistent. I think he's a quality kicker, but he'd be the first to tell you that. We've got to continue to trust him. But that ball got to the 32-yard line, there was no hesitation. We sent him out there and he hit it right down the middle. You know what he's capable of doing, we just need him to do it on a more consistent basis because we're going to need him. We're going to need that automatic three when you get inside the 30. That's what he's capable of being. Kickoffs have been good for the most part. I know they were tough conditions the other night, but they were what they were. It's going to be windy one week. It's going to be wet the next. We don't play in a dome, I'm sure all the kickers would love that. But we deal with what we have and I like those two kids. I thought Chris came back and it was a field position game and he played a big part of that. He had a couple of big kicks from out of his end zone and we downed a couple inside the 10. He played very well.

Duce (Staley) didn't play much in the second quarter and Verron (Haynes) got most of the carries. What was the thinking behind that?
I thought he was the best mudder we had. We went in there with some plays we felt good about with Jerome (Bettis) and then when Verron got in on a third down, he looked like he was running the best in the mud. That whole quarter we were down in the infield, so we left him in there. You knew you were going to run the ball. We tried to spread them out instead of staying in tight and I thought he did a good job.

Did Verron earn more consideration?
He's the best mudder we have and if it comes up again I thought he ran well. But they all bring something to the table. I'd like to keep them all involved.

Speaking of involved, would you like to get Duce more involved in the passing game?
I think he's fine, however it unfolds. We're not trying to get people involved. We're just going to play and take advantage of the strengths of some of the guys. We recognize he can catch the ball out of the backfield. We'll continue to take a look at that.

Does the offensive line get an advantage in a game like that?
Yeah, maybe. There were a couple of times they cracked some runs because we lost some footing.

Did they do a good job on Jason Taylor?
Yeah. We went in determined that Jason Taylor was not going to be a factor. We had tight ends over him and chipping him. We had backs chipping him. We were determined not to allow him not to get too close. If he wanted to meet Ben, he could meet him after the game, he wasn't going to meet him during the game.

I think the more the game went on, the more (Ben) started to scramble. It's hard to simulate that in practice. The more they do it, the more you'll see those kinds of plays. Those are the kind of things that you'll grow as the season goes on.

Is that the Joey Porter, you're used to seeing?
Joey hasn't played poorly in the first two games. He just got more opportunities in this game.

Carson Palmer leads the league with five interceptions. What are you seeing there?
He has a lot of confidence. He takes some chances. Ed Reed picked off two of them and he'll pick off more than just Carson. Ben's got his share too. Any young quarterback will. Those windows don't stay open too long in this league.

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