Bill Cowher opening remarks:
OK. Obviously given the fact that it's Thursday and we don't play until Monday night, it's hard to say from a physical standpoint who is out and who is definitely going to play. At this point, I'll give you the status of some guys who have missed some practices. Obviously, Joey (Porter) and Duce (Staley) are out. Travis Kirschke will probably try to get back in the next couple of days, but it's very doubtful that we'll try to play him in the game Monday night due to the number of practices that he missed. A number of players are probable, but again, that's depending on what develops over the next few days. Ricardo got a hip flexor last night. He may miss a day, that's the early prognosis. Lee Mays and Walter Young are both kind of day to day with their hamstrings. We'll see where they are Monday night in terms of how much they play. Deshea (Townsend) is probably going to come back this afternoon and work, but we'll see how much he plays Monday night. And Antwaan Randle El kind of sprained an ankle on the field over there and he's not going to work today, but we'll see where he is for the Monday night game. Pretty much, that's it. The starters will play approximately one quarter and maybe a little longer or a little less depending on the individuals. Certainly we need to take a look at a number of players on this team from a backup standpoint. I think we'll have an opportunity to do that, particularly with some of the injuries that we have at the running back and linebacker positions. That's how we'll go into this first game.
Q: How will you use your quarterbacks?
BC: We'll start with Ben (Roethlisberger). We'll probably play all four of them. I don't really have a true rotation at this point. I want to see how we get through it and make sure Charlie (Batch) is completely healthy. I think they will be. We'll be back down there the next couple of days and these guys, they've worked hard. I know their legs are tired and heavy. I think they will get their legs back a little in the next few days and we'll clean up some of the things with the young guys. There is a lot of thinking going on, a lot of mistakes being made, some of it is understandable, but some of it has to get rectified pretty soon. The quarterbacks, though, I think will all play Monday night.
Q: Is Kirschke's back more than you thought it was given that you thought he'd be back this week?
BC: It's coming along, there haven't been any setbacks. Again, I think given where we are in training camp, I don't think we should rush to bring him back. I'm not concerned at this point about it.
Q: You've got some nice depth on that line.
BC: Yeah we do. It will be good to see these guys play, to see a Shaun Nua, an Elliott Harris and certainly Brett Keisel has done a lot of good things. It's a good situation for those guys to get some reps. And Travis, I'm concerned with from a reps situation. We know what he is. But some of these other guys are going to get a chance to play.
Q: Which are the young linebackers that have stood out for you?
BC: Oh, 45, 46. I don't want to mess up these guys' names. I'll give you numbers. Andre Frazier and 46, Arnold Harrison. Those are two kids that have. (Dedrick) Roper is another kid who's going to get a chance to play some outside. Alonzo (Jackson) will get an extended look. It's a good opportunity for them. And James (Harrison) will step in for Joey. Those guys have been good and I want to take a look at the two inside guys as well, the kid from Michigan State (Ronald Stanley) and Rian Wallace. These are kids that have flashed at times, we'll see how they do in games.
Q: Will you do anything at outside linebacker, like move Rian Wallace out there?
BC: Right now, we're going to leave them where they're at. I don't want to move too many people at this point. We've spent a lot of time in these first weeks getting them ready to play. I want them to feel good about knowing what to do. In the next two or three days, hopefully they can gain some confidence a little bit. I don't want to switch too many people right now. They've worked hard and this will give them a chance to go in there and play football.
Q: Can you assess the situation with the three young corners?
BC: It would be true speculation. They've worked hard. I like what I've seen. Bryant (McFadden) and Ike (Taylor) have stood out at times, probably more so than Ricardo (Colclough), but again, I want to see it transfered into games. There's some healthy competition there and let's see how it unfolds. Chidi (Iwuoma) is another guy that has made a lot of plays in this camp and we've got to give him a chance to go out there as well.
Q: Are you a little disappointed Ricardo hasn't taken that next step?
BC: I'm not looking at it from that perspective. I try to address it with each player and see how they respond. We'll see how it plays out.
Q: Will Randle El return punts, and who will be deep on the kickoffs?
BC: No and I don't know. No he well not return punts, in this game? No. Kickoffs, I'm not sure, probably Ike and Ricardo. Ricardo may do, if he's healthy, some of the punt returns as well. I've got to see where we are Monday night.
Q: Has this been a tough training camp considering that four days before your first preseason game, three key guys aren't here?
BC: You'd like to have everybody, but at some point, you have to operate without key people. I talked about the measure of teams being the quality of depth, it's also the quality of leadership. Some other people have to step up in that regard. It's going to open up some opportunities for young guys to play more and play with the first unit. The depth chart moves up one and they're going to get playing time and that will allow you to get a better feel for players and your team. You talked about last night's goal-line wasn't as vocal as it's been in the past. You take away Joey Porter, Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley, those are a lot of vocal chords that are running at that time of practice. I don't think it diminished anything and the intensity was good. But you guys are around here every day with these guys jabbering and talking and everything else, as the players do and we do as coaches too. You kind of get used to these guys for a little bit of that edge. And suddenly they're not there. Somebody else has to pick that up. Who that is, I don't know. You've got to be able to do it naturally. I'm looking at this as a nice way for us to be able to – what if they're not there? I'd like to think they're both going to be there for most of this season and hopefully all of this season. But this preseason we've got to be able to deal with that locker room and being able to get ready for a game without the guys who have been the vocal leaders not there. Somebody else has to step up and each guy has to be able to learn to deal with that. Has it been a tough camp without them? I don't know that it's been tough, but it's an opporunity to reveal more about our team.
Q: Who do you expect to step up, or do you just wait and see?
BC: I don't know.
Q: Does anybody strike you as that kind of guy?
BC: I don't know and I don't want people to be out of character. It will evolve. Maybe it won't be somebody having to talk loud. Maybe they'll do it their own way. Those things tend to evolve. You can't manufacture those things, they happen. I'm not looking for it. It will evolve in execution. It will evolve in how we play the game.
Q: Does having this many injuries affect how you approach this preseason game?
BC: No, because we've been practicing with the guys who are going to play. You'd like to everybody, but you don't. But there are some positives that come out of that from the standpoint that some of the key guys who aren't practicing, hopefully we will have them for most of the season, if not all.
Q: On the drill where Porter got hurt, he said he was trying a new move and it worked. He celebrated with the Larry Foote stomp. Is that where he got hurt?
BC: What Joey hurt his knee doing was playing the game of football. If something like that is what prompted it, it was going to happen at some point anyway. The game of football is a little more violent than jumping up and stomping the ground. He's going to get himself in worse positions than that. I told him not to beat himself up over that. It's not something that was foolish. It was something that Jim (Bradley) went in there and looked at and it was going to happen at some point. I told Joey, it's better now than a week before the opening game when he's out here doing a pass rush or trying to run to the ball. Am I looking for a silver lining? I'm just trying to deal with the reality of where it's at. If you're going to have these four-week injuries, I'd much rather have it the week before the first preseason game than the week before the first regular season game.
Q: So that did come up between you guys?
BC: We talk a lot. How can you not talk to Joey?
Q: You mentioned Alonzo Jackson, how's he progressing?
BC: He's had a very good camp. But now is the time to transfer it over into games.
Q: Do you have a relationship with Joey that's different?
BC: It's different with a lot of guys. We've got a lot of different guys. I probably developed relationships a little stronger with guys who have been here and have gone through a lot of battles with. Young guys still have to prove themselves. There's some guys I know what I'm getting and I respect what I'm getting. The relationships are different. I'd like to think I'm hands on and I've got a feel for people, but at the same time, they have to prove that they're accountable and dependable and they're the right fit for this football team.
Q: Do you have more patience with guys because of that?
BC: Patience? Maybe from what you see. (Porter) and I have had a lot of discussions. They're not always, what I say to you isn't always what him and I discuss when I shut the door. We have a good relationship. It's very open. It's very genuine and there's a lot of respect that exists.
Q: Are you two alike?
BC: Me and Joey? I don't even know where you're going with this?
Q: It seems like you enjoy him.
BC: I do. I like being around people who enjoy doing what they do. I love to be around passionate people. I think he's a passionate player. Does it get him in trouble? Probably. Has it gotten me in trouble at times? Probably. Is that a comparision? Yeah. I don't mind that. There's a line that, if you want to be good, you have to be able to walk to it but not cross it. There's a lot more guys like that on this team. James Farrior is a passionate player. Alan Faneca is a passionate player about the game. Kendall Simmons, Jerome Bettis, Ben is a competitive guy. El is too. I'm getting to know Cedrick Wilson, but I like what I see in his eyes. We're just getting to know each other, but it still does take time to develop those relationships.
Q: Speaking of talking to players, a couple of players have talked to Hines. Have you had any conversations with him?
BC: I'd rather not discuss the issue.
Q: Can Frazier play at his current weight?
BC: He will play at his current weight. Can he play there? Give me a couple of games and I'll let you know. He's done some good things. I think he'll get bigger, I think he'll get strong. And he'll become more comfortable. He's making a total transition. There's a lot of learning going on, but I've seen him flash some good things. But I want to see it in a game, but I like what I've seen to this point.
Q: You got a little passionate with him last night. Is it one of those things that if the teacher is yelling at you, at least they know who you are?
BC: I tried to explain that was not a bad thing and to let it go. Sometimes kids don't. I wanted to let him know that I'm not a guy who harbours feelings. I express them quickly, but they don't dwell. Said, done, learn from it and let's move on. Young guys, I'm sure there's some concern. So we talked again and he's OK.
Q: When guys are hurt are you more cautious. For example, with Duce out, are you more cautious with Jerome?
BC: You still have to play the game. I know Jerome has run very well in this camp, as well as he's run in the last three or four years. That will have some effect on how much he plays this preseason.
Q: What kind of outcome are you looking for in this game?
BC: I'd like to see us be crisp on both sides of the ball, particularly with some of the units. I'd like to get a chance to see the young guys, not just the rookies, but some of the young veterans, see how they respond. I want to see them take some positive steps. Maybe it's a flash here or a flash there, but it's enough that you start to get a little excited about some of these guys. Maybe in two or three games, it's going to start to come together. I certainly want to see our first units go out and start to show some continuity. We don't need to be on all cylinders, but we need to show some positive steps.
Q: Would you have liked your young cornerbacks to see Terrell Owens?
BC: They can see him, all they have to do is turn on the TV.
Q: But playing football?
BC: You know what? We're going to play against good receivers, I'm not worried about that. I don't know how much he would have played anyway.
Preseason pregame press conference
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