Bill Cowher Press Conference

First of all, we've made a roster move. We brought Russell Stuvaints back. In making that roster move, we have put Matt Kranchick on waivers, hopefully we'll be able to get him back if he clears, for the practice squad this afternoon. We have one player that's out. That's Mike Logan with a hamstring. I'm not sure what it is. It could be three or four weeks. We'll probably take it week to week, but that's the diagnosis right now.

Bill Cowher: We have about 11 players that are probable. I'll go down the list: Jerome Bettis with a knee; Jeff Hartings with a knee; Antwaan Randle El with a foot; Deshea (Townsend) with a hamstring; Hines (Ward) with a hamstring; Cedrick Wilson with a wrist; Aaron Smith with a back; Tommy Maddox with a shoulder; Clint Kriewaldt with a knee; Clark Haggans with a groin; and James Farrior with a knee. Some of those players will work tomorrow, some will not. Hopefully, we'll have everyone available Monday night outside of Mike. We're looking forward to another divisional game and we're playing a team whose backs are pinned kind of against the wall. They're in a corner and this is a quality football team that has been a rival of ours down through the years. We recognize what kind of challenge is ahead of us and what kind of game this is going to be Monday night. We're looking forward to that.

Q: Will Clark step in and start?
BC: Clark will start. We'll certainly keep James involved. I don't think (Haggans) is ready to go out there and play 60 snaps. We'll ease him back into it, but he will start … barring any setbacks, but he practiced last week, which was good.

Q: Mike Logan had the hamstring last year that landed him on IR. Is that a reoccurance of that?
BC: This one, from what I've been told, is not as severe as the one was last year. I will hold out hope that he can come back as long as I can do that roster-wise. I've told Mike the same thing. It goes week to week, so we'll see where we are. Hopefully we'll be able to get him back at some point. But I can't make any guarantees.

Q: You have a pretty good record on Monday night in prime time, what do you attribute that to?
BC: I think our players look forward to that game, everybody around the league is watching and usually it's against a pretty good football team. I think that's the biggest thing. Our guys have responded to challenges and this will be no different. It seems like down through the years, I don't know when the last home Monday night game we had was. They always like to put us on the road. It will be very refreshing to play this one at home.

Q: What do you think the atmosphere will be like, it being Halloween and the Ravens in town?
BC: It'll be electric and hopefully it should be. Us playing Baltimore has been one of the better rivalries down through the years and certainly we know what happened the second game of last year's season. We had a gut check and that was the team that gave it to us. Every time we play them, I don't care about the records. It's going to be a physical contest and these are two teams that respect each other but have a genuine dislike for one another. That's just the way it is. These two teams have won this division since it's been started. It's been a long time. I think when you have the two top teams in the division - which it's been in the past - and then you take it on Monday night, I think that speaks for itself.

Q: Does it matter that they're 2-4 and some of their top players may not be playing?
BC: No. It doesn't at all. I think there's still a lot of football left to be played. We're not even halfway through the season yet. I don't think you can sit there and talk about anything but this is a football team, like I said, that they are 2-4, it makes them a lot more dangerous. This becomes a very important game for them. And it is for us as well. But certainly from their standpoint, they cannot afford to fall three games back, or three and a half games back because Cincinnati is the team we're all chasing. This is a team that's used to winning. We're going to get their best shot, no doubt about that.

Q: What is that quality that allows your team to go into places like Cincinnati and San Diego and thrive?
BC: I don't know. I think you go on the road. You know your energy is going to have to be higher. You're going to have to match the energy of that home team. We've had that bullseye on our chest for quite a while now. The other thing is that you have to focus great. The focus has to be there because of some of the intangibles that are there. Consequently, maybe that's why we haven't played that way at home. I think we feel like if we show up, we'll get the energy from the fans and we'll have that edge. We need to go in there playing with that edge. This isn't about going on the road, this is about playing at home. We've lost our last two football games at home and that's disappointing. This has got to be a place - I know people don't like to come in here and play - but we've got to make it that way and not just assume it's going to take place by just showing up. I don't care if it's Monday night, Sunday night or Saturday afternoon, we've got to come out with that same type of focus, that same type of energy and apply it, not just assume that because you're playing at home, it's going to be there.

Q: Can you talk about your defensive backs, and particularly Bryant McFadden?
BC: It's a good group. We kept all of those corners and they all had a role. As I said coming out of preseaosn, you kind of like them all. Deshea has been really solid. Willie (Williams) has that veteran experience that you just love the fact that you have him. Then you look at Ike (Taylor) and I think Ike is the guy who throughout the course of the preseason, you could see him being the most consistent of those three young guys. Ricardo and Bryant, those are the three young guys trying to establish themselves. Ike has had to work to get to this point. There are still times when he relaxes at times and in this business you can't relax on any one play. He's done a better job of staying focused on every play out there. Ricardo is getting better at that. He still likes to look in the backfield like he did in college at times, but he's getting better. He's working his tail off. Bryant McFadden is doing some good things, things that only playing time will help him get better at doing. They all have special skills about them. It's important to all three of those guys and I like that about them. You just have to continue to give them feedback. You have Deshea and Willie ahead of them and they're showing them how to watch film and practice and all the little things it takes to become a better player. There's a good mix with those guys. Chidi (Iwuoma) is still a solid player. He has his niches in the kicking game. Those are six pretty good guys. How it unfolds sometimes is due to the health. That how Bryant got in there. Who's to say it wouldn't have been Ricardo? But he wasn't healthy. Sometimes you get an opportunity and you get in there and you never look back. I said that before. We'll see where we are with these guys at the end of the week and we'll get them all in there. It might be in the kicking game, it might be on third down. It might be first and second down. But we're trying to keep them all in there because when at some point when it becomes an expanded role, it's not that much more for them. Those guys are doing good and certainly Chris (Hope) and Troy (Polamalu) are playing at a high level.

Q: You've used a lot of three safeties this year with Logan. With him down, would you do that with (Tyrone) Carter, or would you go with another cornerback?
BC: No. We'd go with (Carter) and I'd have no problem with that. We've got Stuvaints back too. We'll see how this game evolves, but we'll stay with what we have.

Q: Would you rather have a corner as opposed to a safety in nickel and dime situations?
BC: No. You go with the safety because they're used to run support and playing near the line of scrimmage. They're bigger guys for the most part size-wise. That's used a lot with two tight end packages. The thing about this team is that it doesn't necessarily mean a two-tight end set. They can take (Todd) Heap and split him out wide. Again, depending upon who you play, that will have lot to do with our configuations.

Q: You had a lot of success moving Ike side to side against Johnson. Will that be something you go to more in the future or was this a special situation?
BC: Yes and yes.

Q: You talk about the intagibles between home and away, is there something you can do to change the home routine?
BC: No. We lost two tough games. We were 8-0 a year ago at home. Let's not overreact to it. Those were two tough games we lost at home. That's the way it is in the National Football League right now. Those are the games you have to win. That's going to be the difference when it's all said and done and the teams that are still playing in January – the ability to win those close football games. We're going to be in those close football games. We're not going to blow people out. We understand that. We have to come in every time respecting everybody we play. Don't worry about too much more than the opponent we have this week and doing the little things that it takes. We have to be focused on the little things. You're going to lose the physical matchups every now and then. What we have to be focused on is the little attention to detail things and starting to lose plays that way. Then things start to multiply and you find yourself in close games and losing them because of that.

Q: Despite your record on the road, you'd rather play at home?
BC: No doubt.

Q: You talked last week about the offensive line not playing at the expecation level. Feel better about them this week?
BC: They played a heck of a game. I thought both lines had an outstanding day. From an offensive line standpoint, they not only started off with a physical nature, they sustained it. That's the thing right now we talked about before. That first quarter, we knew there would be a high energy level on both sides. That wasn't going to determine the game, the first quarter. It was going to be who could sustain that approach through 60 minutes of football. I was very proud of our offensive line. They played very physical. You add into that mix Heath (Miller) and Jerame (Tuman) at tight end and Danny (Kreider) at fullback, I thought it was a very impressive run game in terms of putting a hat on a hat and doing it consistently play after play.

Q: One of the big stories in the preseason was Baltimore putting in a 4-6 defense. Have they continued to use that?
BC: It's worked out pretty good, they're second in the National Football League in defense. They use forms of it. You see them, they're going to be putting eight in the box. You're going to have to be able to block them up and still run the ball. They've got two pretty good corners out there in Samari Rolle and (Chris) McAllister. They're utilizing the people they have right now. As you can see, they're doing it pretty well. They're not giving up many points and they're not giving up many yards.

Q: Does the 4-6 for them depend on Ray Lewis?
BC: No I don't think so. They didn't have Ed Reed last week and it didn't change a lot. Certainly Ray and Ed are two leaders for them. Certainly they're going to miss them. They've got a lot of good players on that football team. Terrell Suggs is a good player. Kelly Gregg is a good player. (Maake) Kemoeatu is a big player inside. They've got some other players that are pretty good. It doesn't change much what they're going to do, just who they're going to do it with.

Q: I've seen a coach say it takes a year for communication to develop on the offensive line. Have you seen that with Kendall Simmons and Max Starks on that right side?
BC: They have. I don't know who said a year. In our business, you don't have a year. You may have a different line every year. But they have. They've developed it from training camp. I think that's the biggest thing sometimes. You go into camp sometimes with position battles. While it may be the right thing to do, it may hold you back a little bit in terms of those guys being able to work together. I think the fact that we've been able to keep all of those guys out there working with one another, they are going to get better. And I think they have, so I think there's no question that they're comfortable over there. The fact that those five guys have been out there and have played together has been a good thing.

Q: Because he didn't start a lot of games in college, was there a concern about Willie (Parker) and his durability? Was it encouraging to see him come back with a 100-yard game because of that?
BC: I don't know if there was concern, but nobody really knew. I was asked that question when he became the starter. Can he handle, 20 to 25 carries per game? I didn't know either. We're all kind of waiting to find out the answer. I think he has. In this business, to be a running team, you need more than one back. I think that he has played very well and it's hard to say how games unfold. You can say it's easy to get both of those guys in there, but it isn't. You don't want to keep a guy going in and out. And if you don't make third downs - I thought the other day, we're 50 percent on third downs for the first three quarters, so that allows you to get into a rythym so that even during the course of a drive, you can change backs. If you're going three-and-out, three-and-out, it's not easy. They miss a series. It's not always easy to do if you're not moving the football. But it was good to get him showing some of the explosiveness. And Jerome showed the power that you know he has. It's nice to have both of those guys and Verron (Haynes) ran well. And it's still good to know that you still have Duce (Staley) back there, who's feeling better and better. Every time I'm on the sideline, he's there making sure that I see him and reminding me that he's there. I like the fact that he's doing that.

Q: I'm sure given the results, you'd pass 14 times every game if that worked. But are you happy with your passing game? And if the running game isn't there, do you feel comfortable with the passing game as a plan B?
BC: Yeah. I do. I'm fine with the passing game. Passing 14 times was by choice. That's fine. That's how we played the game and hopefully how we can continue to play the game. I think we threw the ball three or four times in the second half. And again I'll say, if you look at the first half, a lot of times you'll find that pretty balanced 50-50. If we get a lead and get up on a team, we do not throw the football. We try to make the game as quick as possible. We try to use the clock, you'll see us snap the ball with two or three seconds on the play clock. We try to make it a short game. That's the way we go. We've played six games and we've won four of them. The other two, we've had opporunities to do it running or throwing. I'd say at this point, yeah, I'm satisfied with where we are. Can we win a game throwing the ball 25 or 30 times, I'd like to think we can. I guess it's yet to be determined.

Q: When Bettis is being used on first and second down, is there any thought of making Willie the third-down back?
BC: We takes some reps in practice. But we feel very comfortable with Verron.

Q: The way you've used Heath the past couple of weeks, is that a conscious effort or the way things have worked out?
BC: A little bit of both. He's a big target and he can run. There was a conscious effort there at times. But other times, he's a weapon out there with the other guys we have at receiver. He certainly has developed into a big factor in the passing game, obviously more than what people have expected from the tight end position here in the past. When you have that type of talent, it's a nice weapon to have.

Q: When you go against a team that has a good tight end, how much more difficult is it to defend them?
BC: You've got to look at the team. You look at a team like Baltimore that has a good tight end, but they are still going to feature Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor. They're going to still run the ball. You get a team like Kansas City with (Tony) Gonzalez or San Diego with (Antonio) Gates, they use them so differently. But you still are very conscious of all of those guys. You look at the AFC with Gonzalez and Gates and our guy is pretty good to. You are going to have to cover those guys at times with a linebacker, but you don't want to make it a constant that's out there doing that. You're going to have to put a pretty good safety on them. That's why when we were drafting Troy Polamalu a couple of years ago, that's one thing we looked at was his cover ability. When you looked at where this league was going at tight end, particularly with Heap and at some point (Kellen) Winslow, those guys were starting to become more prevalent. You can see them coming through the college ranks with some of these guys who are going to come into our league. You'd better get a safety who can do more than just be an in the box safety. You'd better have a guy who can cover. That's one of Troy's strengths. I know some people think it isn't. The tight end position has become one that you're seeing them become multi-dimensional. I think the one thing that our guy does a pretty good job of compared to those other guys, he's a pretty good blocker. I think he's a better blocker than the guys I just mentioned.

Q: When you've got a guy like him, does that make the strong safety back out of the box?
BC: Not really. It depends on how you use him. We don't try to feature any one guy. We have a phylosophy going in. We still want to run the ball. When you talk about defending the Pittsburgh Steelers, you're not going to talk about stopping Heath Miller or Hines Ward, you're going to talk about stopping the running game. Within that approach, you're going to recognize some of the matchups you'd better be careful with. I think you're going to go in there thinking you have to defend the running game. When they do that, we've got to be able to throw the ball effectively and the quarterback making good decisions. I feel really good about Ben (Roethlisberger) and what he's been doing. He makes good decisions and even though we only threw the ball 14 times, we had some big plays. He's going to do that because he has that kind of ability. The more people put around him with Antwaan and Cedrick and Hines and now Heath Miller, it gives him more opportunities and more options to look at.

Q: A lot of quarterbacks wouldn't be happy with those numbers. Is he content?
BC: We're all content with winning. That's the bottom line. That's the thing with this football team. It's a very unselfish group that understands that we are who were are. We're a football team. If it means we have to score 30, we'll do that. If we have to hold them to less than 10, we should do that. If we have to throw it 30 times or 12 or 14 times, we'll do that. It's a team that feeds off of one another, it's a very close team with a strong fiber. From that perspective, you won't hear people talking about their own wants as opposed to what's in the best interests of the team.

Q: As well as they're playing defense, Baltimore is having trouble scoring points. What do you think of that and the fact that Anthony Wright is their quarterback?
BC: That's hard to say. They've got some good weapons. I know how potent that running game can be. It's too early in the season to come to an assessment on them. I think Anthony Wright is a mobile quarterback and he's got a great arm, we know that from when he was here. You look at a solid offensive line and two good backs. They've got the big tight end and they pick up Derrick Mason in the offseason. They've got some receivers and (Mark) Clayton, the draft pick, I'm not sure what his injury status is. They've got some players. The thing you see is the penalties. They've hit some big plays and had them called back because of penalties. That's one of the things that's frustrating as a coach to see that. You get something going and then it's second and 20 and it's tough to overcome that. We've experienced a little bit of that.

Q: I think the past couple of games the opposition has gouged you with the run and then you stop it. Do you adjust?
BC: I don't know. We've made some adjustments. Your assessment is pretty accurate, particularly the past couple of weeks. I know this past game, they pulled out a couple of runs against our nickel. We had a passing blitz and they hit one up the middle. The other was a play we pulled out from years past. After those first two series we settled down. There's been one play we haven't stopped it yet. We finally stopped it on the fumble. That was the same play they ran and Joey (Porter) got some penetration and he kind of reversed field. They called him down, but he fumbled it. That was the one play that's been pretty good against us. I'm sure we'll see it again this week. This league, plagerism exists. If you can stop a play, they're going to keep running it until you prove you can.

Q: The penalties?
BC: They were judgement calls. We talked about it. You've got to use good judgement. I think Chris got pushed in the back by his own player. Ike, they said he was out of bounds and the whistle blew. I didn't hear it but those were two judgement calls. Hines can't do what he did. That was an emotion at the time. Those are big penalties. Those are 15-yard penatlies. The same thing happened to Troy the week before. He picked the guy up and he said he didn't hear the whistle. You get to the sideline, they are going to be very sensitive. We've got to do a better job of making better decisions once we get closer to the sidelines.

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