Bill Cowher Press Conference

<b>BILL COWHER</b> <br><br> OK. Let me give you a state of our team from a health standpoint. We've got one player who is out.

That's Chad (Scott) and Chad's making good progress. We're still probably looking at four weeks away with him. We have a second player who's questionable and that is Tommy Maddox. Tommy threw a significant amount of balls at the end of last week. We're going to go into this week with him practicing and we'll see where he is by the end of the week in terms of his status. He'll either be a third, in the worst-case scenario, or be ready to back up Ben (Roethlisberger) in the best-case scenario. In regards to that, I've talked to both Tommy and Ben. At whatever point Tommy does come back healthy, there will be no change made at quarterback. I think they both understand and we're ready to move on with that being the case.

Four players are probable. Duce (Staley) with his knee; Kendrell (Bell) with his sports hernia. And Kendrell, again, he worked last week and as relates to him this week if he gets through practice by the end of the week he will dress, he will participate in the game. In what capacity it remains to be seen. He has not played really in a game since the first preseason game so I'd like to get him in there, get some snaps in this game, if he can do it, and just get him back acclimated to the speed and then we'll go from there. Clark (Haggans) is also probable with a foot and Lee Mays with his toe. So, (we're) relatively healthy to be honest with you this time of year and coming off a very physical football game we played against New England, and certainly (facing) as big a challenge if not bigger going against an undefeated team in Philadelphia which is playing very well. It's going to be a big challenge for us, no question about it, in our ability to sustain the same approach two weeks in a row because anything less won't get it done. That's the thing we're faced with this week.

Is Tommy a little ahead of schedule?
I don't know. I don't think there was any clear-cut schedule. I'm just telling you where he's at now.

What was his reaction when you talked to him?

Is this something you have to talk to the team about?
I don't think so.

Coach, does it make the job easier facing a 7-0 team this week, in terms of potential letdowns?
No. We're not going to have a letdown. The biggest thing when you're playing a football team like this is there's no margin of error. We can't back up, which was a very good performance by our football team last week, with anything less. If we try to play like we did against Dallas, we won't win this football game. We've got to be able to back up and show up every week, and it's a challenge. If you don't, then you become that up-and-down football team. And that's what we've got to do. We've got to become a more consistent football team with our effort and with our execution. You watch us play the way we did last week, there's no reason why we shouldn't do that every week. That's the challenge that we have to have, because I'm telling you anything less than that won't get it done this week. This team is too good of a football team. There's no weakness in this team. From the kicking game, which has (a) premier kicker in the league in (David) Akers. They've got returners. They've got a defense. (If) Ben thought what he saw last week was a little confusing, there'll be mass confusion this week because this guy is going to bring it and it's going to be from anywhere and everywhere. And you've got an offense, where you've got a quarterback who, last week while (Tom) Brady was mobile, could read things and throws it, this guy's mobile, can read things and can run. We played him the first time and we probably had about four or five sacks where we fell off the guy. He's an outstanding athlete who's playing quarterback right now at a very, very high level. Like I said, anything less than our best effort will not get it done.

How much improvement have you seen this year in their offense?
I think T.O. (Terrell Owens) gives them a guy he's comfortable with and getting more comfortable with with each game. T.O.'s one of the top receivers in the National Football League. He runs precision routes, he's got excellent hands, he can run after the catch. All the things that he talks about, he backs it up. And I think he kinda has given a little bit of a swagger to that offense. Not that it didn't have one before, but they certainly have one now. And they've been performing at a very high level.

How much does this kind of inspiration go into a guy's play, like what Duce will have against his former team? Does that mean anything?
Well, it does. To say it doesn't would be less than honest. To what degree? I think it depends on the individual. You look at a Duce Staley, I can't see him preparing any harder than he has since he's been here. I mean, every week he's a consummate pro and he prepares himself and gets himself ready to play no matter who he's playing. Is it going to be more special? Sure it is. Anytime you go back to the team you came from, there's something else there. That's true as a coach and true as a player. But it really will not change how he approaches the game because this guy, you know what you're getting every Sunday with him.

What has he meant to your team?
Like I said, he's a very competitive football player who's giving you everything he's got. He makes more people miss. His yardage after first contact, I don't know what it is but it's high. I mean this guy does not go down with one hit. He's got elusiveness but he's got power. He's got that unique, the two of them. And to have a Jerome (Bettis) and a Verron (Haynes) behind him, it's allowed us to take the approach we have and not feel like you have to deviate from it if you don't have one of those guys. That's the nice thing about it right now is there's no deviation. We may deviate because we're not getting it done that day, but it won't be because of the personnel.

The Eagles have 13 different guys with at least one sack so far. Where are these guys coming from?
Well, hopefully we'll know where they're coming from, and sometimes it looks like you don't know where they're coming from. But when you get a Jevon Kearse, I mean, that's the other thing. You don't always have to blitz because he's playing well, (Derrick) Burgess is playing well, Corey Simon and Darwin Walker. Those four down guys, the linebackers -- (Nate) Wayne and (Mark) Simoneau - those guys can run. Dhani Jones. And I think those two safeties are as good as there are in the league. Brian Dawkins is a Pro Bowler. Michael Lewis is probably going to be. They hit like linebackers; they cover like DBs. They've got great timing on blitzes. They come from everywhere. They're going to give you a lot of different looks and it's going to be a big challenge for us to find them and make sure we get a hat on them.

Is their scheme more intricate than New England's?
I would think from a scheme standpoint they are. New England was a 34. So we had a good feel for it. This is a 4-3 on first and second down and they're bringing a lot. They go to third down and give you a little bit of everything, a little bit like what we got from New England but I think these guys are a little more committed to blitzing than New England was. New England will give you a lot more combination coverages, and these guys use combination blitzes, so it's a little bit different.

What did you learn about your team this past Sunday?
Oh I don't know if I've learned anything. You're constantly finding out about people. We're all finding out about each other. You go through a season and you have challenges that come up every week, whether it be the opponent you're facing or whether it be your internal challenges. Last week Willie Williams had to step in and play a whole game; Chris Hoke had to step in and play a whole game. I think it's just an ongoing continual growth process you're going through through a season, and that growth is coming from the people you're with to the experiences you go through to your ability to see if you can sustain that. That to me is the next challenge that we have. We are no longer under the radar. We've got one of those big circles on our chests with the big, black dot in the middle. It's called a bullseye and we've got to handle that responsibility. We are a football team right now where we have to play at a high level to be efficient. I know I'm repeating myself, but anything less and we'll find ourselves back into the same mode we were before, with a lot of question marks about us and us maybe losing the opportunity that we've created for ourselves. That's the thing we've got to do: Take this one week at a time and just make sure we prepare for that accordingly and not get caught up in it and not get caught up in the things that are said about yourself and not get caught up in looking too far down the road. Certainly, you won't have to this week with who we're playing. We've got a tough schedule ahead of us and we have a lot of football ahead of us. That being said, really there's no other approach to take.

Coming off a huge win, does it take extra special attention to make sure the focus doesn't fall off?
You talk about it. The great thing about playing at Heinz Field, I'm going to tell you that energy level we had from our fans last week, it was high. And you can feel it. You feel it as a player. You feel it on that sideline. We're three hours earlier but that will not change, I'm sure, the emotion and the energy that will be in that stadium. This is a big football game for our team - a cross-state rivalry - and we will be able to feed off that. We will need that. We need to get them into the game early. We need to get off to a fast start. If we can do that, we can feed off of it and give a 60-minute effort and we'll be fine.

How surprised are you by being 6-1?
The biggest thing you've got to be careful of is reflecting. I'm not going to sit back right now because you get caught reflecting on things then before you know it something else is happening in front of you. I mean we've just got to keep going. When you're in the middle of doing something, you don't reflect on it. You reflect on it when it's all said and done. As I've said before we've created an opportunity but we really have not done anything outside of creating that opportunity. So if anybody gets caught up in reflecting on anything that's been done to this point, they are losing focus on really what they should, which right now is the task at hand. What we did last week and what we've done the last couple weeks means absolutely nothing as it relates to our preparation and our ability to show up this Sunday and give it our best effort.

Is there veteran influence in that capacity?
The veterans have been good. Veteran accountability is very important on any football team. We've got very good veterans who are not only showing up on Sundays, but when they walk in here on Wednesday morning and their preparation and how we practice and how we prepare and making sure that everybody kind of follows that lead. You've got to have good veteran leadership. Veteran accountability is so important. We have that on this football team. There's no doubt about it.

Does inserting Tommy as Ben's back-up change any of the dynamics with Ben at all?
No. Like I said, I talked to them both. I know when Ben comes off the field, the first person he's looking to is Tommy. Tommy understands that. Tommy is another guy who's put the team before himself. There are a lot of players on this team who've done that. That's the thing you've got to guard against because all of the sudden you start to have a little bit of notoriety and some players are getting it more than other players. You've got to make sure you continue to take that same unselfish approach and keep things in perspective as Jerome and Duce have done all year, and Verron Haynes. They all want to play more but they've accepted that role. Now the same is true with Tommy Maddox. I think we've a number of players on this football team that have been able to do that and need to continue to do that and need to continue to do that for us to get to where we want to go.

What about from Ben's perspective with the former starter backing him up? Any looking over his shoulder?
We've talked about it.

Why were you able to open the holes against New England so much better this time?
Oh, I don't know. I don't want to go back and look at the last times we've faced them. I don't know. I didn't go back and look at many of those games on the offensive side of the ball to be honest with you. I just know our lines on both sides of the ball this past game was probably the best we played this season. I can't give enough admiration for what they did and give enough credit for how the lines played on both sides of the ball. It was very, very impressive.

How's McNabb changed the dynamic of what you do defensively considering how well he runs?
The last couple weeks Vinny (Testaverde) was not going to get outside the pocket; Brady was going to be able to move around in the pocket but was not looking to run. We're back now to looking not only at a guy who's able to move around in the pocket and buy time looking down the field, he can also take off and run. We're going to have to make sure we're more disciplined in our rush lanes with him. We have to tackle him and wrap him up. You go by another guy and you sling him down and think you trip up a quarterback, this guy is really strong in the pocket. Like I said, we must've slung him around a couple times and he never came off his feet. So this guy will test you. You have to run through him. You have to be persistent in your rushing and you're going to have to be honest with your coverage. He's a big challenge to a defense.

How do you prepare for that?
I don't think we'll do anything different. It's just an awareness that you have to have. This is one of those guys you have to run through. He's like a ballcarrier playing quarterback. If you think about it in that manner, you don't just try to sling a ballcarrier down. They have good balance. This guy's a ballcarrier playing quarterback. When he has the ball in his hands, and you want to tackle him, you'd better get both hands around him and you'd better make sure you stay ahold of him and run through him or he'll get out of your grasp.

Who plays him this week?
It'll be (Mike) Quinn.

Antwaan Randle El?
No. No. No. Brian (St. Pierre) will be there. We'll let him move around. We're not going to throw our guys to the ground. It's just an awareness you have.

How does Brian Westbrook being injured change your preparation? Same as when Corey Dillon was de-activated?
The only difference in that is New England probably relied on the run a little more than Philadelphia relies on the run. Philadelphia is still a team that will run the ball just to give their receivers a chance to catch their breath. I'm not saying that negatively because they're 7-0 and they're pretty good throwing the football. But with Westbrook, he's dangerous out of the backfield, in the backfield. Dorsey Levens is still a guy who knows that offense very well. They are going to run the ball. No question. But they are going to make their money and they're going to make their way by throwing the football up and down the field and that's what we're going to have to stop.

What was your thinking on the challenge on Chris Hope's facemask?
It was poor thinking on my part. I realized it after I'd already made the challenge that the penalty would still be enforced. But it's the first one I got right this year. But it was really a poor use of a challenge right there. We gained a yard. I only had one left and would've liked to have used it for that touchdown pass. But I didn't want to lose that. He probably had (his feet) in. But I probably would've used one there as opposed to using it to gain a yard. It was a poor decision on my part.

It seemed they delayed after touchdowns. Is that in the rules?
No. I think when it comes to touchdown plays they are making a point to spot the ball slower. That is true. That's been a point of emphasis, which I think is good.

Is there a rule that it takes longer than 90 seconds to review?
I don't know. That doesn't bother me as long as they get it right.

(TV announcer) Phil Simms gave you credit for breaking their momentum, and it seemed to.
I wish I could say that was the intent. It did. They had a chance to give some thought back to it but it truly was an oversight on my part.

Do you have a guy up there to look at replays?
We've got a bunch of guys up there. I'm asking both sides of the ball. I ask them all to speak up and get ultimate silence most of the time.

Are you allowed to have a monitor on the sideline?

In Minnesota, Mike Tice couldn't see and they rushed the extra point. Would you support a rule to help that situation?
Yeah. I think it would be fair. But not everything is fair. I know what you see is quicker or slower depending on whether it's home or away.

Are you concerned about the high number of penalties?
Yeah, I am. We've had way too many penalties. What's getting very frustrating is our return game. I'm not going to stop talking about it but I'm losing my patience. I mean, I understand not using good judgment on effort plays. And we got our kickoff return going a little bit. We still haven't got our punt return going. They hit a couple returns against us to get good field position, particularly at the end of the first half. That's the first time this year we've allowed one to get out there. But some of the penalties we had, I mean we had four 15-yard penalties the other day, so the yardage does bother me. It concerns because it's a field-position game. I don't ever want to take away from aggressiveness. I don't ever want to deter that approach. But we've got to be able to use better judgment at times, as it relates to the return game and blocks, as it relates to potential retaliations. When you get involved in high emotional games, you can't do that. Those are selfish acts. At some point they'll come back to haunt you. We had some poor starting field position the other day because of penalties. Yeah, it's a concern.

As Ben's star continues to rise, how is he handling things? Is he maturing?
I don't know if he's actually reached a level of fame yet but he has gotten better and better in practice. We activated him (Max Starks?) for the first time and we put Barrett (Brooks) down and he's ready to play both tackle positions. As a matter of fact, his first play in there - he went in there for Marvel (Smith), who wasn't very happy about it but we took him out - and on Jerome's long run had a great block. He's played some in the goal-line situations. He's coming along and making good progress.

Is starting an option for Bell?
This week he will not start but we'll try to get him some action in there.

Could he play either inside linebacker?
We've got Clint Kriewaldt. He's not too bad either.

Will your defensive backfield be the same? Even in nickel and dime?
Willie (Williams) is going to start. After that we've got all kind of different combinations going. We've got Ricardo (Colclough) playing some, Ike (Taylor) playing some, Russell (Stuvaints) playing some. We're trying to get Tyrone Carter involved some. There'll be a lot of different people out there. I don't even know who's going to be out there right now, until we get to the end of the week. Some of it's predicated on practice. The guys who you feel are ready to play, they're going to play. If they don't have a good week of practice, they're going to have a hard time getting on the field. That's just the way it's going to be.

Ike Taylor obviously made -
Made a very nice play. He had a good week of practice last week.

How much will it have to do with Terrell Owens?
How much those guys play won't have anything to do with Terrell Owens. What we play will have a lot to do with Terrell Owens, us being aware where he's at. He's not one of those guys you treat like any other receiver. We'll be very much aware of where he's lined up.

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