Notebook: Charmed life continues

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> Quarterback Brian St. Pierre took snaps from center Dan Koppen for four years at Boston College. They were roommates and best friends and were drafted back-to-back in the fifth round in 2003.

St. Pierre, from Boston, was drafted 163rd by the Steelers. Koppen, from Whitehall, Pa., was drafted 164th by the New England Patriots.

"It's kind of a weird story," said St. Pierre, whose friend sat out the opener last season and then started the next 18 games. Koppen has added six more starts this season.

"He's lost one game," St. Pierre said. "He doesn't even know what real life is. He has no realistic perception of it."

St. Pierre, the Steelers' back-up to Ben Roethlisberger, has seen the Patriots' game films and can't believe his friend's good fortune.

"They don't do anything special," St. Pierre said. "They just do the little things that enable them to win. They make plays. Dan says it's almost amazing sometimes to watch other teams unravel and make a bad play that helps them. It's just one of those streaks where you can't explain some of the things that happen."

Koppen's charmed pro career continues this week. The Patriots' center will face the Steelers minus Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton.

While St. Pierre admits Koppen copped a break, he doesn't believe the Patriots have.

"We've got as good a shot as anyone. I really believe that," St. Pierre said. "I like the way we've been playing, especially up front on both sides off the ball. If we play like that, give Ben (Roethlisberger) time, give the receivers time to get open and work, and Duce (Staley) does his thing, we're going to be tough to beat. I really think that."

St. Pierre was a Patriots fan growing up. He admits to having rooted against the Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship game, but said the switch was easy to turn off.

"I'm a Steeler fan," he said. "I have no allegiance to New England, only the Red Sox."

The Red Sox, of course, were one game away from clinching the World Series last night. St. Pierre can understand why the Patriots, even in the midst of a 21-game win streak, are second-class citizens for the time being.

"I think New England, Boston in general, has been spoiled by the success," he said. "They almost take it for granted now. With the Sox winning, doing what they're doing, the Patriots are second-page news. It's crazy to think about because they're the best team in the NFL right now."

Is that good news for the Steelers?

"No," St. Pierre said. "I think it's good for New England because they're able to stay under the radar the way they like to be.

"We're going to be ready to play I think. I'd be surprised if we don't give a very good showing Sunday. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm not going to be playing probably, but I'm excited to be a part of it, and if I do get to play I'll look forward to that, too. I think it's going to be a good show and it's going to be a good atmosphere at Heinz."

INJURY UPDATE

Back-up wide receiver Lee Mays (turf toe) joined teammates Tommy Maddox and Chad Scott on the sideline at Wednesday's practice. While the latter two players have been ruled out of Sunday's game, Mays is questionable, as is linebacker Kendrell Bell, who practiced lightly but said he doesn't expect to play.

Missing the Patriots' practice Wednesday were linebacker/fullback Dan Klecko (knee), wide receivers Deion Branch (knee) and Troy Brown (shoulder), tackle Tom Ashworth (back), fullback Patrick Pass (thigh) and cornerback Tyrone Poole (knee).

Klecko won't play Sunday and Branch is listed as doubtful. Ashworth, Brown, Pass and Poole are questionable.

QUOTABLE

Patriots coach Bill Belichick on listening to Steelers coach Bill Cowher talk extensively about secondary play back when they were young assistant coaches in the late 1980s:

"It was very helpful to me to try to understand how that was being taught and what exactly they were doing."

Cornerback Ty Law on how his Patriots defense compares to the Steelers' defense of the 1970s:

"They had Hall of Famers so I don't know if that's a good comparison right now. Maybe if we can get some guys to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame then we can talk about it, but right now there is no comparison. Those guys won four Super Bowls and they probably had eight (actually four) on their defense. We can't touch those guys right now."

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