He tore a tendon in his groin and right now it looks like a minimum of three to four weeks. We're still exploring all of the options. We're still in the early stages of trying to look at what the options are. I cannot rule out surgery, but at this time, this is all of the information I have to give you. The next guy is Brett Keisel. Brett has a very significant hamstring strain. It looks like he could be three to four weeks as well. The next guy is Chad Scott. He's running, but he's out this week. From here on out, his status will be week-to-week. I'll have more updates, but he's had no setbacks and is doing fine and I'll give you an update next Monday as to where he stands. The next guy is Plaxico (Burress). His hamstring is not as serious as Brett Keisel's, but he is out this week. We're not going to play him this week and then he'll be like Chad, his status will be week-to-week.
We've got four guys who are questionable. Number one is James Harrison with the shoulder. Duce (Staley) with the hamstring. Duce will practice tomorrow. How much he takes, we'll see how he feels. But he will do some practice tomorrow and we'll have a better feel for him at the end of the week. He's significantly better than he was last week and we'll go from there. Chidi (Iwuoma) has got a hamstring. His is truly 50-50 at this point. We'll see where he is by the end of the week. And Jay Riemersma has got a groin. He may miss tomorrow, but we'll see where he is Thursday or Friday.
We have two guys probable: Jerome (Bettis) with his knee and Verron (Haynes) with his knee.
That's our situation going into Week 11 against Washington. We're playing at home. It's good to be home after being on the road two weeks. Even though you're looking at a Washington team, if you look at their record of 3-7, this football team with the new staff with coach (Joe) Gibbs coming in, it's a team with a lot of potential. The defense is ranked second in the National Football League. And offensively, certainly you have two good receivers in (Rod) Gardner and (Laveraneus) Coles and I think one of the premier running backs in Clinton Portis. This guy's very special. (They have) a young quarterback in (Patrick) Ramsey. You still see a lot of shifts and changes in the formation that you remember from the Joe Gibbs Washington Redskins teams. It's an ongoing process getting used to that, but you see flashes of a very potent football team. Our players will recognize that as soon as they watch it. It's an important time of the year, certainly we realize that. We have to keep trudging along and clean up some things from last week's game and hopefully we're going to get a better effort to come away with a victory at Heinz Field.
Have you discussed with the training staff about this rash of hamstring injuries?
It's not at all unique. I don't think it has anything to do with what we're doing, so I haven't talked to the trainers about that, no.
Is it different fields or surfaces that you play on?
I don't know. I haven't overanalyzed it to that extent.
Are you thinking of adding a wide receiver, maybe Chris Doering?
Yeah. We'll probably make a roster move by the end of the day. That's all I can say.
What happens to your receivers in Plax's absence?
Antwaan (Randle El) will start and we'll go from there. We'll have Lee (Mays). Sean (Morey) is fine as well. We'll see where we are and go from there.
Does it become more incumbent on Hines (Ward) to stretch the field? Does that fall on him?
I don't think so. We're not going to alter what we do. The next guy will step up and we'll move on.
How much of the sacks the other day were because of the mindset that it is better than a turnover, as opposed to him seeing things he hadn't seen before?
I don't know. You have to be careful to overanalyze. I'm not suggesting you are, but from a coaching standpoint as well. I think you have to look at each sack. At times we got beat in
one-on-one protection situations. At other times we held the ball a little bit. Other times he tried to get out of the pocket and he dropped it the one time. Other times it was good coverage down
the field. It wasn't any one constant that you saw that you could say we've got a problem here. Certainly you don't want to take seven sacks. There's nothing positive that comes out of that
other than I did like the decision making that Ben (Roethlisberger) had. He didn't force the ball. You see that in the league every week. The guy's going down and trying to throw it away and it turns into seven points. So I think those are things we can correct and will correct. There's a positive about not turning it over, but if you take the first half, we're 5 of 9 on third downs and we get in the red zone every time we get the ball and come away with three points at the end of the first half, that's the biggest negative. We had a chance to put that game away early, to be honest with you, and they came back. To their credit, I don't want to take anything away from Cincinnati. They played hard and they played inspired. They won some match-ups. I don't look
at it so much as us failing, but they played hard too. They were a desperate team. At that point in the season, that's what you're facing a lot of times. We talked about that the night before. We had to be able to match the level of desperation they were playing at. We knew it was going to be that type of game. They didn't disappoint us. We had some opportunities, we just squandered them.
Did Cincinnati do anything differently that teams may copy?
They didn't do anything differently that we hadn't prepared for. I think teams will continue to do what they do. That's what we have found. I mean, you know they're going to do something to try to stop the running game, and certainly this team isn't going to have to change. They're pretty good right now the way they play. They're second in the NFL. That's pretty impressive, given a record of 3-7. That makes that stat even more impressive. Sean Taylor, he's a big-time safety. He's like having a linebacker there. That's the No. 2 defense without LaVar Arrington, so I hope LaVar takes another week off. I wish he comes back and finishes up the year great, but not this week, maybe next week.
Did not signing Marcus Washington allow you to sign Duce?
I don't go into all that. We've got the players we have and we're real happy with the players that we have, with Clark Haggans, with Duce, with everybody. I think it worked out well for everybody.
How has Washington played?
He's playing well. There aren't too many people on that defense that aren't playing well - Fred Smoot, Shawn Springs, Taylor in the secondary -- they're pretty impressive -- and Renaldo Wynn. They may get Cornelius Griffin back this week. They've been playing without him. Gregg Williams has been doing a great job. Dick (LeBeau) knows him very well. They coached together up in Buffalo last year. Gregg has come down there and they're going to bring it. They're going to bring a lot of blitzes. They're going to bring eight people in the box and challenge you with those corners they have. It doesn't get any easier. It's going to be a grind, no question about it.
Do you see the same stuff you saw at Tennessee when he was a coordinator down there?
Not really. I think a little bit of that was more Jeff (Fisher) with some of the Buddy Ryan stuff. But Gregg still likes to pressure. He's got the personnel he's doing it with and he's been very successful. If they wanted to establish a mindset down there, he's certainly done a good job of doing that. They are a very aggressive defense.
Does Clinton Portis look more comfortable?
He does. He's been so close to breaking some runs. You see him just getting barely knocked off. This guy's a hard runner. He's fast. He's got good balance. I think it's been an ongoing situation. They've had some injuries on the offensive line. That has probably set back the timing part of it. I think that's hurt them quite a bit this year. Now with the new quarterback, he's got good mobility, throws the ball well, a very streaky type of quarterback.
Have the injuries added up to problems with your special teams?
Well, that was an ongoing saga on Sunday. The thing about it is we've got a lot of players. Some of the guys were coming up, and some starters are going to be out there playing. They all understand how important that is. Kevin Spencer does a great job of keeping everybody prepared. He makes adjustments. It's nice to be able to get the punt-return group going. We're going to keep El on the punt returns. We may try to get him off the kickoff return a little bit because of his amount of playing. But we finally got the punt-return group going and Chris Gardocki had a great day the other day. I thought he was phenomenal, I mean five punts inside the 20, a couple when we were backed up that were 40-yard kicks, so I think the special teams took a step forward last week. We'll continue to take the bodies we have but they all understand how important that phase of the game is.
Will Ike Taylor replace Randle El on kickoff returns?
Those were big-time kicks by Gardocki (?)
I think he only had one that kind of bounced and rolled dead inside the 20. I tell you, he's been very, very consistent. You know how quick he is. When you get to a point in the game where you just have to get it off, all you have to do, the protection team, is stay in your area and you should get anything off. He's very solid. He's a good holder. He's had a super year.
What does it say for a 3-7 team to have a running back (Clinton Portis) lead the league in rushing attempts?
What's it say? He's a three-down player. It probably says they've been in a lot of close games. That's what I would say. This team's record is one thing. But you watch them, the people they have on both sides of the ball, they could easily have turned that record around.
James Farrior is making a lot of big plays. Is there any reason?
I think it's a comfort level. You've got to remember, this is his third year in this defense. I think with a lot of those guys inside, particularly inside, and even outside, there's a lot to be said with this defense (about) being able to hear the call and play the call aggressively, instinctively and not have to think too much. There's a lot involved with it. Here's a guy who came in his first year and he was setting the defenses, calling the signals. Now, he knows the defense. He knows where the people are. He understands what we're trying to do and theory behind certain blitzes and certain calls that we make. So I just think he's playing so much faster and playing more instinctively, and consequently he's making a lot of plays. You know, really, since Joey (Porter) got hurt last year he's now become a 3-down player and he's making a lot of plays on third down.
On Roethlisberger's intentional grounding, was that a judgment call? He didn't seem to be under duress and the receiver seemed to run the wrong way.
Well, I know the one you're talking about. I thought it was a good call. Is it judgment whether he's under duress? Yes. But he was in the pocket and he threw it to an area where there really was no receiver. So I thought it was a good interpretation by the official.
Did the receiver run the correct route?
Yes. They covered it.
What are your thoughts on the criticisms of Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells?
Well, it just reminds you of what sports is about. The same guys were being lauded last year. It reminds you you're in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business. So if you're getting all the accolades, if you stay in it long enough you'll see the other side of it.
Bill, teams aren't supposed to have so many injuries and still win (kinda like New England last year?), is it depth, good personnel or great coaching?
Our coaches have done a very good job of keeping guys ready to play. I mean, the credit goes to the players that are out there stepping in. The other credit goes to the veterans around them. They're taking these guys in; they're helping them; they're taking more upon themselves, making these guys feel good about what they're doing, how they're doing it. Like I said before, when you talk about chemistry on the football team, a lot of times it's not so much the starters, it's the whole mix and the type of leadership you're getting. It's the guys who are able to accept roles and embrace them and play very well, and at the same time when other guys step in it's helping them and showing them how it needs to be done. I just think we've had a lot of guys step in and no one has dwelled in self-pity and said 'Oh, woe is me.' Each guy has been held accountable and they've taken that in a very serious manner.
Is there something the NFL does that other sports don't do in regards to brawls?
You never see fans on the field, whether you win a game or no matter what the circumstance is. That's just not accepted. Obviously it comes down to the players monitoring themselves. We had the unfortunate incident up in Cleveland with Joey and William Green. Those things are very unfortunate situations. It gives all of sports a black eye. There's nothing positive that comes out of it. Hopefully people are taking the right measures. We're in the entertainment business but there's nothing entertaining about that.
Did those plastic beer bottles come close to anybody on Sunday when the safety was called?
I didn't know nothing about it. You don't want to throw anything. There's no sense in throwing things. You're going to hear things being said about you and it's all part of it. You've got to be able to accept it. It's not easy. No one likes to be cussed at, cursed at, called names. Unfortunately, the entertainment business is part of that. When you don't put on a good show, you're going to hear it. But you've got to be able to accept that and recognize that's part of the business you're in. It's not easy but it doesn't give you any right to retaliate.
Do you get a lot of that when you're coming off the field in visiting stadiums?
No. You know what? I don't listen to it. The best thing you can do is don't listen to it. When we win, I run off the field. I'm happy. I enjoy wins. And I'm not trying to do it in a demeaning way. When you quit enjoying wins, it's going to start eating at you because you're going to agonize over the losses. I want to enjoy the wins. I'm not trying to be demeaning, but it's an emotional game. You enjoy it. It can never get old. When it does, you're going to agonize over the losses and that'll wear you down.
Is there more invective from fans now than in your days?
I'll be honest with you, and I'm not trying to throw it on you guys, but really I think the media coverage has been so intense in everything that's been done, the promotion of these dances, the promotion of all these celebration, that it can be offensive. You don't want an opponent coming in and doing those things, but we seem to sensationalize every little bit of that and it can promote some of the uneasiness in some of the stadiums that it takes place. It takes the frustration levels to another level, and then it just takes a couple instances where people have crossed the line. In the past you never even thought about doing that. You never even thought about throwing something on the field when you went to games. But if you can take some very strong measures to deter that, I don't know if you can be strong enough to be honest with you. You want to get it back to where there's a great respect for the game, a respect for the fan and for the players. There's a passion that goes with each city. You have to understand that going in and you have to respect that. That's what sports is still all about. That's why I always thought home field is a great thing, because that's a city identifying with its team. They get excited and they want to be a part of that, but you just can't cross that line where it becomes a negative. And I think at times that line's been crossed.
How different are the players these days?
It's different. It's a different game because the media exposure is different. I mean, everybody's getting interviewed. There are 24-hour sports TV shows now. There's so much exposure, and I think it's created a lot of marketing. It's just different. The incomes are higher; the expectation levels become greater with that; there's public knowledge about what people make. In the past, you didn't think about what the guy was making. You looked at him as a player. If a guy was a good player, he was a good player. If he wasn't a good player, he wasn't a good player. Nowadays, he could be a good player but he's not playing as good as he should given what he's getting paid. Sometimes the expectation level is based on that and I think there's some animosity that's created a little bit because of that.
Do the players feel the need to entertain more?
In my opinion, players are still the same. Players love to compete. Players love to win. Players want discipline. They want consistency. They're going to work hard. They want to be pushed. We all have to be pushed because you can't get to that level unless you get pushed. So I don't think the players have changed per se, I just think there are so many other media outlets for them today than in the past, in terms of the marketing, in terms of the exposure. That's what's different and changed. I still think that the player today is like the player when I was growing up. They're playing for the love of the game. That's what pushes them, at least the good ones.
Will you stay up late to watch Ben on Letterman?
No. Uh-uh. Nope.
Did he ask you for advice on whether he should go or not?
Do you have a problem with it?
Bill Cowher Press Conference Transcript
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