He instead referenced today's halftime "game" between the Fort Cherry Little Rangers and the Crafton Little Cougars. It was a topic that interested Cowher a great deal.

He instead referenced today's halftime "game" between the Fort Cherry Little Rangers and the Crafton Little Cougars. It was a topic that interested Cowher a great deal.


Notebook: Start 'em young

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> In a teleconference call earlier this week, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was asked to recount -- once again -- the story of his high school's 6-0 win over Carlynton and Steelers coach Bill Cowher way back in the Dark Ages.<br><br> "I don't want to recall that," said Lewis.<br><br> He instead referenced today's halftime "game" between the Fort Cherry Little Rangers and the Crafton Little Cougars. It was a topic that interested Cowher a great deal.<br><br>

"It is special," Cowher said. "You talk about Western Pennsylvania being the breeding ground for a lot of players. I think it starts very early. A lot of credit goes to the coaches who sacrifice their time."

Both of the coaches' coaches are expected to be on the sidelines for the recognition of the Pop Warner League teams.

"You know, that's your first indoctrination into football, and I think you realize at that early age how important football really is. I can't say enough what football builds in kids from a character standpoint, from a work-ethic standpoint and learning how to compete. I was taught really early if you get knocked down and you stay down somebody else is going to hit you but you better get back up. It's taught really early in this area about some of the things that help you later in life, whether you continue in sports or not."

Cowher said he "would have to put my money" on the Crafton team. He was asked for his most vivid memory of midget football.

"I played for the Crafton Little Cougars against the Aliquippa Little Quips in Aliquippa and it was the muddiest game I ever played in," Cowher said. "I'll never forget it. I had a good game and I got in the car and there was this little blanket I had to sit on. My dad wouldn't let me move left or right. He kept saying 'look straight ahead; don't take your helmet off.' I had to drive all the way back from Aliquippa in this mud and I had to make sure I didn't get any in the car. We won that game. We did lose to Marvin's team in high school. Fort Cherry did beat us, 6-0. It was on a kickoff return, and, no, I was not on the kickoff coverage team."


It has nothing to do with football, but Chukky Okobi is plotting his revenge just as seriously. On Wednesday, Okobi was toweling off after a post-practice shower when he was smacked violently in the thigh by a dodge ball. The thwap! was so loud, everyone in the crowded locker room stopped to look. And then everyone looked across the locker room at what's known as kicker's corner, and Jeff Reed, Mike Schneck, Chris Gardocki, Antwaan Randle El and Sean Morey were sitting with choirboy-like innocence. Okobi knew which of them threw the ball.

"Them kickers, they're just jerks, man," said Okobi. "That's what it comes down to. Josh Miller was a jerk. They replaced him with another jerk, Gardocki."

Who threw it?

"Jeff Reed. Jeff Reed is the ringleader. Gardocki's guilty by association. Schneck is the hype man. He laughs and that laughter encourages them to do it more. Randle El is the sneakiest one of the bunch. El's the sleeper, and now Sean Morey likes to play."


"They like to play naked games. That's the problem. They like to play naked games." How did it feel?

"I thought I got shot. I was pretty shocked."

What's the next move?

"The next move? I was thinking about a shock-and-awe campaign, but I decided instead to lie low for a little while and wait till the dust has settled and strike when he's forgotten all about it. And at that point, when you hear him screaming, 'Why?! What have I done to deserve this?!' Remember this. Remember what he did."

Reed finally admitted to throwing the ball.

"I crushed him," Reed said. "He screamed like a little girl. That's what's bad, a big dude like that screaming. It's a funny sight."


Steelers linebacker Kendrell Bell was ruled out of today's game with a groin injury. For the fourth consecutive game, he'll be replaced by Larry Foote. Dime safety Mike Logan is expected to play.

For the Bengals, wide receiver Peter Warrick was downgraded to doubtful with a shin injury. Also downgraded to doubtful was free safety Kevin Kaesviharn, who was supposed to replace Kim Herring (foot). Instead, rookie Madieu Williams will move from free safety to strong safety and Rogers Beckett will return from a concussion to play free safety. Bengals left tackle Levi Jones practiced and could play with an injured knee. If not, guard Eric Steinbach will play left tackle and Larry Moore (questionable knee) will play left guard. Middle linebacker Nate Webster will be replaced by rookie Caleb Miller.


Kendall Simmons, on injured reserve with a partially torn ACL, on whether he could've played with the injury this year: "I think I could have. I think I could have put a brace on and played fine. Before the operation, I was running up and down my steps without a problem. I told (trainer) John (Norwig) I could play but he said absolutely not, that I could tear the whole thing and be looking at a real problem. So I went along with his advice."

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