Bill Cowher's Press Conference

Bill Cowher's Opening Statement: For our game Saturday night against Miami, Duce (Staley) and Joey (Porter) are obviously out, as are Sam Simmons and Vontez Duff. They will not play in the game. Fred Gibson, right now, is doubtful. That's the best way to say it.

Bill Cowher: Everybody else should be able to play at this point. (Bryant) McFadden is not going to work today. (Ricardo) Colclough is not going to work today. We're hopeful that they'll be able to go Saturday night. Kimo (von Oelhoffen) may not be able to go today, but he should be back out there tomorrow. Our plan going into the game is for our starters, generally speaking, will play about a half. There may be some substitutions that take place within that. It may be different for some guys, but that's basically the premise going into the game.

Q: How will you use your quarterbacks?

BC: Pretty much the same way. The same order. We'll get Ben (Roethlisberger) to get some snaps. He only got 10 last week. We'll come back with Tommy (Maddox), then Charlie (Batch) and Brian (St. Pierre).

Q: Jerome (Bettis) is the starting running back?

BC: Yes, he will start. The plan is for Jerome to start and Hines (Ward) to start. I don't know how much they will play. But they will start.

Q: Jerome is the starter if Duce can't go in when the season opens?

BC: Yeah.

Q: What about the other wide receiver position? Is that Antwaan Randle El's, or can Cedrick Wilson still win it?

BC: We're going to look at both of those guys. El as had a really good camp and so has Cedrick. It's a nice position right now. Hines came back yesterday and you look at that group right now, it's really solid. Those three guys are clearly three good football players. After that, we sit down and talk about it, every day you can throw it up and there's a different order. Nate Washington right now has been the one guy who's been the most consistent player. Lee Mays and Walter (Young) missed some practice time. And I think if there's one guy who has siezed this opportunity, it's been Nate Washington. He's been very, very consistent. He obviously had a good game the other day. He backed it up with a good practice yesterday. But we need to continue to see strides. We've got to continue to look at some of these other guys to get some good concrete information that we can make some decision on.

Q: Antwaan has expressed a desire to stay in the slot.

BC: The thing that's nice is that with Hines, Cedrick and Antwaan is that those guys are all interchangable. I think that's the thing that's nice about these guys is that you can do a lot of things because they all can play inside and they all can play outside. I think that's the thing that gives you a lot of flexibility. He plays that inside well, but he's not bad outside, either.

Q: Last year you opened with two quarterbacks. Is it too early to be thinking about that again?

BC: You start to tinker around with the 53 and there are a lot of different combinations you can go to. I think that Tommy has had a very good camp, he really has. I think you look at Charlie and here's a guy who hasn't played football in almost two years. I thought in the game, he did a lot of good things. He made some really nice throws. I thought he got better as the game went on. Same thing with Brian. His comfort level this year, just based on the fact of being No. 2 last year and going through that process for the first time, I think he's matured tremendously. All of those guys are pushing each other right now. We've got to continue to look at and evaluate it.

Q: Even for a veteran such as Charlie Batch, are you concerned when, in his case, he's only played three games in three years?

BC: I think the fact he was able to get out there and run around a little bit, he was able to get better as the game went on and I think that's going to be the case. You're right, he hasn't played a lot of football. Just like Casey (Hampton) and Kendall (Simmons). I thought Casey at times, to his own admission, was a bit tentative out there. It was his first contact. Kendall really hasn't been tentative, but they really haven't played in two years. I think all of those guys, the more they play, the more comfortable they become. And the the aprehension that they may have may be alleviated.

Q: Have you found a niche yet for Willie Parker?

BC: Hand him the ball.

Q: Do you have a plan for him?

BC: Get the ball in his hands somehow, some way. We've got to keep on giving him a chance in the preseason, just like Verron (Haynes). I think we've got to have those guys ready to go given Duce's situation. We still hope to have him back by the first game, but those guys need to be ready to play if he can't. We're going to be spelling Jerome. We're not going to wear him out early in the season. That's why it's important to get those guys some reps, not just on third down, but on first down as well.

Q: Could he be the third down back?

BC: Very much so.

Q: Do you have a progress report on Duce?

BC: Right on schedule. I think Duce's injury was a little more severe than Joey's, but we're still pushing for the first game for both players.

Q: Very much so that's a competition between Parker and Haynes?

BC: They're competing.

Q: You raved about (Chris) Kemoeatu. What specifically did he do and can he play tackle or center?

BC: No, he's a guard. He knocked a lot of people on the ground. That's a good thing. There's no numbers game. We've got a pretty good offensive line with our first five, but after that's there's some inexperience. But I've liked what I've seen with him playing a solid game. It's still a transition. They'll have a test this week with some different looks that we'll have to be able to adjust for. But Chukky Okobi played well and he's the one experienced guy we've got. It's good to have him out there with those guys. Trai (Essex) flashed. He did a very good job in pass protection. I'd like to see him do a better job run blocking. (Jim) Jones and Ben Claxton did some good things as well.

Q: Has Ike Taylor made a big jump?

BC: Very big. I think Ike Taylor is a more focused, more mature player. Willie (Williams) and Deshea (Towsend) have had very solid camps, but Ike Taylor is pushing. He's played very well. I'd like to see him continue through this camp. At this point, it's important that he's gone to that next level and he stays there. That's his challenge. I've seen what he can do, I like his mindset and the way he's approaching the game. I don't want to see him go back. That's the challenge where he is in his career. He's needs to stay up there.

Q: When did he start to get it?

BC: This year's been a big year for him. Why? People mature, people grow. They become more comfortable, more driven. I don't know why. That's just the way people's makeups are. I like the way he's approached the game. It's a very businesslike, blue-collar approach he's taken every time he walks out on that field. He's got a lot of gifts. He can high-point the ball very well. He's a solid tackler. There's some things he can do better, and he knows that, but I like where he's at. He came in, he was a very raw player. I just think he's gotten better. Darren (Perry) and Ray (Horton) have done a good job with him. Deshea and Willie are two guys you can learn from a lot. He's always been a guy who's soaked in information. He was very raw when he came in here. Now he's starting to transfer that information to his playing skills.

Q: That information he made where he went up was impressive.

BC: Yeah, you saw that play. And remember the play he made last year against New England? He does a nice job of going up and high-pointing the ball. He's got excellent hands and he's pretty fast as well. He's got a lot of good qualities. Again, it's just being able to do it consistently day in and day out. That's the thing. You can flash. But if you want to be a good team or player, you've got to be able to do that day in and day out, play in and play out. You're going to get knocked down one play or beaten one play. That doesn't mean you're out. You've got to be able to come back. That's the thing that separates the good players, the guys who do it year in and year out, from the guys who have those one year flashes or one play flashes.

Q: Is he ready to be a starter?

BC: I don't know. We'll see. He's had a good camp.

Q: Is he strictly a backup to Deshea at this point or can he move to either side?

BC: He plays either side. We've moved him and Ricardo to both sides. We'd like those guys to be able to play both sides, him and Ricardo. Same thing with Bryant and Chidi (Iwumo). Chidi has had a good camp as well.

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