Bill Cowher press conference

Opening statement: I'll give you the injury report as it relates to this game against Cleveland. We have two players who are out: Mike Logan with his hamstring and Ben (Roethlisberger) is out with his knee.

He should make significant progress this week and we'll update you later in the week. One player is doubtful, that's James Farrior with his knee. It's a grade 2 MCL sprain. We have three players who are questionable: Jerome Bettis with a knee; Joey Porter with a knee and Willie Parker with an ankle. And three players that are probable: Clark Haggans with the groin; James Harrison with a knee and Travis Kirschke with his back.

Just reflecting back on the Green Bay game, it was a game that we won on the road even though we didn't play our best football, especially offensively. We won the football game, we did what we had to do. We left ourselves a lot of room to improve, which we need to do, but we won the football game. We can build off of that. We're getting ready to play another divisional opponent in Cleveland. They're in their first year with Romeo (Crennel) in place and you can see there are a lot of different elements to this team than when we played them last year. They're a 3-4 front on defense. They have Trent Dilfer at quarterback on offense and I think again, they are a team that has become more efficient each week. They're right in the middle of this thing sitting there at 3-5. I think it's a big football game for us to keep pace with Cincinnati and we're looking forward to the challenge Sunday night.

Coach, was there ever any chance Ben was going to play?
BC: I said there was a chance last week. But I have ruled him out this week. I didn't have much information last week when I talked to you. I didn't mislead you if that's what you are inferring.

Gosh, coach, no not at all.
BC: He's out this week.

Is James a little better than what you might have thought?
BC: Yeah. He's a little bit better.

What does Clint (Kriewaldt) bring?
BC: Experience. He's been in this defense a long time and he's the next guy who has to step up. He'll run the defense well and we'll get Rian Wallace some work backing up Larry Foote. If something happens to Clint, we'll move Larry Foote over. Clint had kind of had a rough series to start, but he settled down after that.

Is that the one linebacking position that (James) Harrison doesn't work at all?
BC: He works inside, but he doesn't work behind James and Clint.

Is there anything specific about that one linebacking spot?
BC: They're not interchangeable. The outside spots are interchangeable, but the inside spots aren't.

This is where the calls come from?
BC: That has been the signal caller with James, but the resonsibilities are different as well.

Does that fit Clint well?
BC: It should.

Will you start Duce (Staley) this week?
BC: Well, we'll see where we are helth-wise. I think a lot of this will be determined by those guys and how they get through the week. It's safe to say right now that yeah he would.

How about the way he responded last week?
BC: I thought he did an excellent job. He had a whole week of work, but he really hadn't been hit yet. Right before the game, I was trying to give him some last-minute advice to make sure he's decisive and to tuck that ball away. "OK coach, anything else." I was putting all these thoughts in his head. But he was good. It was good to get him in there. We got him in there in the third and fourth series and then after Willie got hurt. He seemed to get stronger as the game went on. Endurance wise, he's still not in football condition. I think he'd be the first one to admit that. He's been in here the last couple of days and I think he's glad to get that good soreness out the way.

How about the way he's handled that role?
BC: It's well documented what I've had to say about that. He's been unselfish like a lot of guys about his role. He's exemplefied that. He's had a very positive outlook, which I think allows players when they step in to perform at a high level because they're not dwelling on the negative thoughts.

How is that for a guy who's signed a big contract to not even dress for a game? Is that a tough thing?
BC: I would think so. I'm not the one you should be asking that question to. The most important thing to do with players is be honest with them. I have an open-door policy with players. People have accepted roles on this team, but they've also understood that roles change as the season unfolds. A lot is due to circumstances of victim of or they become a beneficiary of. The circumstances dictate a lot. We're in this to win games week to week. If they have any questions about where they stand, they can come in and ask. That's the best way to do it, deal honestly with them.

In light of recent events in the league, is that refreshing to know you have guys like that in the locker room?
BC: Yeah. That's part of it. You look around and see what's going on, but every team is unique. Everybody has their own set of issues that they have to deal with. Coaches around the National Football League will do what they feel is in the best interests of their team.

Isn't it rare to have so much depth that you stay consistent?
BC: Yeah, but you never want to have too many guys go down at one position. Look at Green Bay. It's tough when you start losing your first receiver, second receiver. First back, second back. Those are tough to overcome when you have so many injuries at one position. We've had that at the running back position, but a lot of that is circumstantial as to how much you get hit at that position.

Duce getting stronger, what would you attribute that to?
BC: Just getting used to the speed of the game again. You talk about practicing, but you can't simulate the speed of the game. You can come as close as you can and you've got to try to do that as much as possible. But you'll never simulate that game speed. It's just getting out there and having things unfold quickly. I think it was just going through that acclimation period and it's not just 10 carries or one game, I would hope it would get better as time goes on.

You didn't dress five (running backs) last year?
BC: I have not, not that I haven't in 14 years here. Some of that was due to special teams, but I don't anticipate that happening this week.

You mentioned speed of the game, would that be particularly so for a quarterback who has not started in seveal years?
BC: Referring to Charlie (Batch), yeah. He's played in the preseason, but when he's coming in in the preseason, it's not the start of the game and the energy that goes with that. It's also not the first team. This was probably the first team defense that's he's faced. So it was good for him. I think he'll be more comfortable this week as well. It's not all on him. We had some protection breakdowns as well at times. Again, it's just something we have to get better and more efficient at. We can't go through games thinking we're going to throw for 60 yards and win week in and week out, it's just not going to happen.

Did he miss some things?
BC: I'm not going to sit here and start scrutinizing the play of Charlie Batch. We've got to do a better job as a team.

After the game, coach (Ken) Whisenhunt said he should have called more deep balls?
BC: We want to be able to move the ball and score points. There are a lot of things you want to do but the defense doesn't dictate it. What you want to do and what you should do aren't one in the same. You can't force the issue. At the same time, when we have opportunities we have to take advantage of them. We had some makeable third downs and that has become a little bit of a concern on my mind on both sides of the ball. We're doing a lot of good things, but if you aren't playing good on third down, at some point it's going to come back and hurt you. It's hard to get any continuity when you are not going in there and getting some plays. The first two series we get the big reverse by (Antwaan) Randle El and then the next series we get a first down on the run and we get into third and five and we stall. Next time we get the ball and on third and seven, we can't convert and we have to kick two field goals downs there. We were 0-for-6, the last two third downs we didn't convert didn't bother me because we were in a situation where we were utilizing the clock. Being 0-for-6 in this last game and even in the previous week, we haven't gotten into being very consistent on that down. It's a concern. And on the other side of the ball, we're letting them convert some third and 10 and third and 12. It makes it harder than it should be. We've played well on defense, I can't say that we haven't, but that is one phase that when I talk about playing good situational football, that is one situation that we need to perform better at.

Is there a way to explain why that happens to your defense?
BC: I guess if we stopped them on first down, we'd be No. 1 in the league on defense.

Why though?
They're executing and we're failing to execute on our end of it. If there was an answer to it we would certainly try to correct it week in and week out.

Is there a common theme in long third down conversions?
BC: As I just told Ed (Bouchette) there isn't anything that's been consistent about it other than our ability to be efficient.

Did you see Jimmy Kimmel's skit and what did you think about it?
BC: I heard about it. I'm not proud of it. I've got to do a better job as I've been told. My chief advisor (wife Kay) has told me I need to do a better job of controlling myself. I will attempt to do that.


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