Notebook: Deshea and his cast

PITTSBURGH – The chink in the Steelers' armor, at least on paper, would seem to be cornerback Deshea Townsend, who'll wear a cast on his right hand after missing the last game with an injury.

Townsend, of course, disagrees with the notion.

"My feet aren't hurting and it's your feet that cover, not your hands," Townsend said. "If you use your hands to cover you're going to get called for holding and all those type of things. But I guess you'll go at a guy any way you want to, broke hand or not, so they'll have to challenge the corners."

Formerly a shy back-up, Townsend's sunny personality has surfaced along with his status on the team. He replaced Dewayne Washington to start the season and played well enough that some in the Pittsburgh media campaigned for Townsend to make the Pro Bowl.

Many of those same reporters crowded around Townsend this week, and Townsend had some fun with them, particularly when asked if there was anything the cast prevents him from doing.

"Probably from scratching my --," he said before group laughter drowned out his final word.

"No, it doesn't have anything to do with the game of football. No, with the cast on the problems are brushing my teeth and those things, but I don't have to do that while I'm playing."

Townsend explained that the cast will be worn down low to protect three broken bones on the back of his hand, by his wrist.

"I can catch with a cast on," he said. "(Chad Pennington) does throw a good ball for his receivers to catch."

And what about tackling?

"Yeah, I can tackle," Townsend said. "It's all about bringing your arms. You bring your arms and hold on."

FUN WITH NUMBERS

Balance is the name of the game in the NFL playoffs, and here's a method for determining the most balanced of the eight remaining teams:

The teams were ranked from 1 to 8, best to worst, on the difference between their offensive and defensive passer rating.

The team with the best passer-rating differential is the Indianapolis Colts at +30.2. The Steelers are second at +25.2. The Jets are sixth at +12.2.

To gauge the teams' abilities at the line of scrimmage, the eight were ranked by the difference between their offensive and defensive yards-per-carry averages.

At the line of scrimmage, the Atlanta Falcons are first at +1.2. The Jets are second at +0.9. The Steelers are third at +0.4.

Since the Steelers are second in passing differential and third in running differential, they have a Balance Number of 5, which is easily the lowest of the eight teams.

The rest of the teams, in order, are the Jets (8), New England Patriots (8), Philadelphia Eagles (8.5), Colts (9), Falcons (9), Minnesota Vikings (10.5) and St. Louis Rams (14).

FUN WITH KEYDRICK

Amid swirling rumors that veteran linemen had a talk with him about his need for attention, Keydrick Vincent remained the loosest guy in the Steelers' locker room. He's got a minute. Let's see.

Hey, Keydrick, what's on your mind?

"Money."

You're going to get a lot of it this off-season, aren't you?

"I don't know man. I hope so. I hope Santa Claus comes."

What's up with that celebration dance you did after Antwaan Randle El's touchdown in practice?

"It's called the Kebalee (points to the word tattooed on his arm)."

Will someone give you the ball and let you do that in the end zone?

"Oh, yeah. No question. If I hustle down there, I'll get it. It's all over. Everything's coming out in the playoffs, baby, you know that. I've been waiting. I've been saving. And there's a part two to the dance, so if I score twice it's all over."

Two touchdowns?

"Anything can happen. It's the playoffs."

That'd be a financial boon for you wouldn't it?

"I hope so. You know, I'm a big-time dancer. Hopefully they can see my talent, too. (Heck), it might get me on Broadway. You liked it, huh?

Well, it was different.

"At least I didn't have to pull my pants down and shoot a moon. That'd get me a lot of attention."

QUOTABLE

  • Willie Parker on the prospect of rushing for 102 yards one game and being de-activated the next: "It's a business, man. But I really want to play."


  • Ben Roethlisberger on whether he's seen the proverbial "rookie wall" yet: "Not yet. I was supposed to crash into it a while ago and I haven't yet. I think winning helps with that."


  • Russell Stuvaints, of McKeesport, on playoff fame: "Everyone's definitely asking for tickets, everyone -- everyone. My uncle Lawrence wants to come from New York and everybody's been ridin' by. It's getting hectic. I don't even like going to the grocery store for my mom."



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