Notebook: Bettis avoids controversy

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> The question was straightforward. So was the answer.<br><br> Jerome Bettis, do you want to start Saturday's game against the New York Giants?

"No," said Bettis, obviously wise to what reporters would do with the alternative answer.

"I want to win," he said. "That's all I want to do. Me starting isn't that significant. A win is a win no matter how it happens."

Bettis is running better than he has since injuring his groin in the 11th game of the 2001 season. His rejuvenation began when he replaced an injured Duce Staley recently, but Staley has struggled in his return.

Steelers coach Bill Cowher instead used Bettis down the stretch against the New York Jets and Bettis responded sensationally. Will that signify an increase in his workload Saturday?

"I can't expect that," Bettis said. "I can't because the minute you expect something, there's a letdown. I don't expect that at all. If it happens it happens, but I can't expect that. I've got to go in there with the same mindset that I've always had and that gives me the best chance to go out and work and do the best I can do as opposed to trying to figure that out. It'll work itself out."

Bettis does, however, expect the Steelers to run the ball more at Giants Stadium than they did in their last visit.

Against the New York Jets last year, in a blizzard, the Steelers ran the ball 24 times and passed 38 times. They lost, 6-0.

"I think it's fair to say we're going to run a lot more. We'd better," Bettis said.

Even if it snows?

"Even if it snows."


Joey Porter wasn't amused by a reporter's question concerning the rumored rift between the Steelers' linebackers and former defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, who's now calling the defensive shots for the Giants.

"Tim was a good guy to me. We had good times," Porter said. "Who told you that?"

The reporter couldn't recall whether it was Porter or Jason Gildon who last year was captured by NFL Films shouting out "Take off the shackles" during the Steelers' 33-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

"I don't know. Who said it?" Porter asked.

For the record, it was Porter, and the reference to Lewis and his play-calling was obvious. The Steelers had only one sack that day on their way to a Cowher-era low of 35 sacks for the season.

"I don't know nothing about the beef between Tim Lewis and the linebackers," Porter concluded. "Tim was a good coordinator. He got us to the AFC Championship Game. We did some good things with Tim."

Lewis has the Giants defense ranked 10th in the league in yardage allowed (316.8). They've sacked opposing quarterbacks 31 times. Without modern-era sacks leader Michael Strahan the last five weeks, the Giants have 11 sacks.

"We're all good with Tim," said inside linebacker James Farrior. "We'll be able to get a chance to speak with him Saturday."

Will knowing Lewis help the Steelers?

"I think him knowing us might help them a little bit more than us knowing him," Farrior said. "He knows a lot about our defense. He knows our calls and stuff so we'll have to be on our toes and have some dummy stuff. We'll have to change it up a little bit."


Missing Tuesday's practice were Farrior (shoulder), Kendrell Bell (groin), Clark Haggans (groin), Verron Haynes (knee), Plaxico Burress (hamstring), Duce Staley (hamstring) and Deshea Townsend. Since it was a Tuesday practice, the Steelers weren't required to list and provide details on injured players.

Chad Scott, who's been ruled out of Saturday's game, practiced.

Bell and Haggans have also been ruled out. Farrior, Burress and Haynes are questionable.

"There's no doubt I'll be playing," said Farrior. "There's not a question in my mind that I'll be ready for the game."


Ben Roethlisberger on whether he's noticed an appreciable difference in the quality of the last three defenses the Steelers have faced:

"Absolutely you notice it. They're throwing different things at us, blitzing from all different angles, trying to shut down the run, trying to stop the pass and they've done a great job. We've faced great defenses and weathered the storm. Offensively, we may not put up the best numbers but we're winning football games. I think everybody on this offense will agree that we'll sacrifice numbers for wins. That's all that's important for us."

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