Notebook: Kreider and the power game

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> At his Tuesday press conference, Steelers coach Bill Cowher said "I see a lot of fullbacks in this league, and I wouldn't want any other fullback in this league than Dan Kreider."

Of course, he has him already.

Kreider didn't hear what his coach said, but "I'm starting to. Everybody's coming up and saying something."

This season, Kreider has, well, no carries, but he's caught, well, no passes.

"He is," Cowher explained, "like an extra offensive lineman in that backfield."

Of course, Kreider is one of the reasons Duce Staley has ripped off three consecutive 100-yard games.

Last Sunday, Kreider met a Cleveland Browns linebacker in the hole on the third play of the game to spring Staley for a 25-yard touchdown run.

"It's a good feeling when you move a guy out of the hole and the play turns into a touchdown," said Kreider.

He was asked about his top blocks of the season.

"There were a couple blocks in the Raiders game and the Cincinnati game," he said. "It's funny, when you play a team a couple times over the last few years, you start to run into the same guys on occasion."

Kreider is in his fifth season after making the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent from New Hampshire. There, he paved the way for current Chicago Bears cornerback Jerry Azumah to break what was then the all-divisions rushing record.

In his first few seasons with the Steelers, Kreider earned respect from around the league for his blocking of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

The Steelers developed into more of a finesse team during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, but returned to their physical running style this season. However, they didn't attack the Ravens as they had Kreider's first two seasons. In the 30-13 loss, the Steelers ran a season-low 25 times, and rarely straight at Lewis.

"Looking back, it was disappointing," Kreider said. "And seeing what they've done the last couple weeks, you feel like, hey, why didn't we do some things different in that game? I think it was a letdown game for us, for whatever reason, but you live and learn. We put it behind us and moved on. I think we possibly could've run the ball a little more right at them but circumstances don't always dictate that. So we just learned from it."

So what does Kreider think of Cowher's remarks?

"It's nice to hear," he said, "but I'm the type of person who feels you have to do it week in and week out. I try to stay low key as much as possible."

FEEL THE HEAT

Staley's most productive pro game was against the Dallas Cowboys. In the opener of the 2000 season, Staley rushed for 201 yards on 26 carries in Dallas. He remembers it well.

"It was steaming hot," he said. "It was a record that day on the field. I think it was 130 or 140 on the field. You could look it up."

According to the Cowboys media guide, it was 109 degrees at kickoff making it the warmest game day in team history.

Staley had a 102-yard game against the Cowboys in 2001 and a 110-yard game in 1999. In two games against the Cowboys of coach Bill Parcells last year, Staley gained 36 yards on only 9 carries.

"Dallas has been good to me," he said. "Hopefully we can keep it up. Hopefully I can go down there and get three in a row. No, four in a row. Geez, I'm losing count."

That must mean he's having fun with the Steelers.

"Right. It is. It's fun and that's what football's about," he said. "I'm starting to gain that hunger back that I had when I was a rookie. I'm eager to get out there and play, eager to go get the ball."

INJURY LIST

Every player on the Steelers' injury list missed Wednesday's practice, including center Jeff Hartings (knee), running back Duce Staley (groin) and cornerback Deshea Townsend (Achilles). All three players are probable. The only player on the Cowboys' injury report is rookie running back Julius Jones, who is out with a shoulder injury.

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