Bill Cowher Transcript

Steelers head coach Bill Cowher addressed the Hines Ward issue for the first time following Monday's run test. Here's what he had to say.

Bill Cowher: First of all, Hines Ward, I love him as a player. He's a great kid and very much respected on this football team, not just by the players, but by the entire organization. It's unfortunate that it has come to this. Hopefully, it will get taken care of sometime in the near future, but we're going to move on with or without him. And like I said, hopefully this thing will rectify itself. In the meantime, we're going to move on and proceed forward with the players that are here. I'm not going to answer any questions about it on a daily basis. But I wanted to make a statement about it.

Kevin (Colbert) said it was up to you whether you were going to fine him?
BC: All those things are dealt with on an in-house basis. That will be something that will be deal with in-house.

Coach, what's your gut feeling on this?
BC: I have no way (of knowing). I've been in this business a long time and like I said, it's unfortunate that it's gotten to this point, but I'm very hopeful that he'll be joining us as we prepare for a big year.

Does it make it more sticky given how highly regarded that he is?
BC: No. All we can do is deal with the circumstances as this football team has done. It happens, that's why you have 53 guys. This is an unfortunate circumstance, but hopefully, the team is ready to move on and we will.

Who will you use in that spot?
BC: We will go with Cedrick (Wilson) at Z and (Antwaan Randle) El will be at X.

Have you had any discussions with him recently?
BC: No. I take all phone calls. I have an open door policy.

As long as he calls you?
BC: There's been communication. That doesn't change. There have been discussions between his representatives and our people. There has not been a lack of communication at all.

Anyone surprise you with their performance in the run test?
BC: You know, considering the heat and weather, I was really pleased with everybody. We held some guys out. Charlie (Batch) was held out with his knee. Jeff Hartings, we've held him out the past couple of years. The running backs, given their circumstances with Duce (Staley), Jerome (Bettis) and Verron (Haynes), we held them out as a medical decision. I thought everybody else who participated did a great job. You look at the two guys coming back, Casey (Hampton) and Kendall (Simmons), they were very, very impressive. This is as light as Casey's been since his rookie year. Kendall, you saw how he finished that last one. That's a very focused player right now. It's good to see. Those are two big players that we didn't have for most of the year last year and they are two intergral players on both sides of our line.

Willie Williams faster in 2005 or 1995?
BC: He's fast enough, let me say that.

You had some fun with some guys in a coaching sense and a heckling sense?
BC: We're starting over. These guys are coming up here and building that comraderie again, building that sense of team. You can't do it talking about it in an air conditioned room. You can't do it laying around in shorts. This is where the foundation is layed. We're going to be pushing either other, competing against each other and living with each other for the next three and a half weeks. It's going to get heated, it's going to get testy. We need to be able to push each other. That's the one thing we've been able to come out of this camp with. We haven't scrimmaged people the last few years because I've felt we've been competitive offense versus defense. That can't change. Sometimes it can get testy out here. I want it to be that way. That's fine as long as it's left on the field. It's a very short period of time before we open against Tennessee.

What are you thoughts about (Ben) Roethlisberger not having his top two guys to throw to?
BC: Ben will be fine. He's a little heavier, but he looks faster. He's worked out hard. He's going to go through his progressions. He's going to find the open guy. The bottom line is that it's a comfort level he has running this offense. A year ago, he wouldn't even look up in the huddle. He'd be calling the plays and I'm not sure he even knew he was in a huddle. He was looking down reading his wrist. I think the comfort level that he is at is most important.

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