Notebook: Hope "Jacked Up"

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> Chad Scott returns to the lineup today for what may be his final start with the Steelers.

A starting cornerback since his rookie season in 1997, Scott injured a quadriceps Oct. 17 at Dallas. He's been ably replaced by Willie Williams and returns as a starter only because right cornerback Deshea Townsend broke three fingers last week.

Townsend is expected back for the playoffs and coach Bill Cowher indicated at his Tuesday press conference that Scott would play in the playoffs, but only as a reserve on passing downs.

That's OK with Scott, who's just happy to play, even if it is on the right side of the field.

"I started out on the right side when I first got here," he said. "My rookie year I played the right side most of the season, and in this preseason I played some on the right side too. You're just opening your hips the other way. You work on your breaks both ways in practice, so I don't anticipate it being that much of a problem. It's not going to be difficult for me to read. It's pretty much the same. You just turn your head a different way."

What about losing his position to Williams?

"I'm a team player," Scott said. "I'm just concerned with trying to help this team win, whatever my role may be. It's not even a question of whether or not I need to get my spot back. I know we were winning games when I was playing and we continued to win when I wasn't. You don't want to rock the boat or anything. I just want to help. Whatever coach Cowher wants me to do, that's what I'm going to do."

That may involve taking a pay cut next season. The 30-year-old Scott is due nearly $4 million in base salary next year. The 34-year-old Williams could be re-signed more cheaply, or the Steelers could promote this year's second-round draft pick, Ricardo Colclough, ahead of Scott.

SACKLESS STRETCH RUN

The Steelers haven't sacked a quarterback in three games, even though combined Kyle Boller, Chad Pennington and Eli Manning averaged more than two sacks per game in their other starts this season.

Was Dick LeBeau using a vanilla recipe in anticipation of the playoffs?

"No," said defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen. "In fact, he brought it the last game."

So, why no sacks?

"Max protection, quick throws," von Oelhoffen said. "That's it. The pressure actually the last couple games was excellent, excellent. Sacks are situational stuff. Sacks are great, the best pass defense you can play, but given the way we play defense, it's probably going to be tight from here on out. People aren't going to let us knock their quarterback around. No way. Would you?"

MILESTONES

Jerome Bettis won't play today and will end the season with 941 yards, 59 shy of his eighth 1,000-yard season.

Bettis doesn't care, but Hines Ward would like to gain the 7 receiving yards he needs for a fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season.

"That's big," Ward said. "When I first got here, 60 catches was a great year. To have a thousand yards four years straight, that's a big goal for me."

The Steelers tried to get Ward his yardage last week, but a poor pass from Tommy Maddox resulted in the play being ruled a lateral.

Ben Roethlisberger probably won't play and will end the season with NFL records for best won-loss record by a starting quarterback (13-0), best completion percentage by a rookie quarterback (66.4) and best passer rating by a rookie quarterback (98.1). Dan Marino holds the latter two records with a 58.4 completion percentage and a 96.0 passer rating in 1983.

QUOTABLE

Antwaan Randle El on running after his one-handed catch last Sunday: "Not tucking it away, I was showing off."

Chris Hope on why he wasn't as excited to appear on ESPN's big-hit segment "Jacked Up" as Ike Taylor had been earlier in the season: "For a cornerback, getting on 'Jacked Up' I guess is a big deal. I think I've been on it a few times."

Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay: "With the connections we have between the two organizations, and the chance we have to play them at home this week and get a playoff berth, it's almost fate."


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