Cowher press conference, Aug. 10

Ben Roethlisberger will play Saturday when the Steelers open their preseason schedule in Arizona against the Cardinals. He and Charlie Batch will see limited action. Read the rest of the coach's transcript:

BILL COWHER, Pittsburgh Steelers

I'm going to give you a list of the people who won't play in the game against Arizona. Jerame Tuman with a hamstring; he pulled it yesterday. It could be up to a week with him. Joey [Porter] will not play with his knee. Trai Essex (groin) is doing better and should be out on the practice field next week. Branden Joe with a hamstring; he should also be out there on the field next week. I gave you the Chukky Okobi (neck) update last night. Hines Ward (hamstring) will not play and he should be out there next week. And Isaac West (knee) and there's a good chance he'll be out there next week.

Those players will not play. Everybody else will. Ben [Roethlisberger] will start and he will play for a short period of time and I will leave it at that. Everyone else will play a series or two in the first game. Hopefully we'll look crisp and get a chance to look at some of the younger players.

Q: Will the other three quarterbacks play?

Yes they will. We'll come in second with Charlie [Batch]. Shane Boyd will come in third and Omar [Jacobs] will finish up. Omar and Shane will go pretty much back and forth. We'll give Charlie some work but he won't see a whole lot of work either. A lot of it will be Omar and Shane.

Q: Was there a meeting of the minds between you and Ben?

There was a meeting of the minds, if that's what you want to call it. We talked. I think we're both on the same page, just in terms of where he's at and how much we feel he needs to be playing in this preseason to get himself ready to go with the offense. I think we're both on the same page.

Q: If he plays briefly, what can he accomplish and what are you looking for?

I'm not looking for anything from him. He's been fine. Like I said, the biggest thing, from a conditioning standpoint, is to monitor that. He lost some weight in a short period of time; not the way that he wanted to do it. And, really, with the accident was not able to train as he has in the past getting ready for a training camp. But he's looked fine. He looked good out here throwing the ball. He started to get a little tired, I thought, earlier in the week but I think he's fine. I like where he's at, and he had a good spring. That's the one thing: I liked the way he came back, even in the spring. He was at every offseason workout and was throwing the ball great, so I like the frame of mind he's in right now. I'm not worried about Ben. It's more, I think, just getting our football team and making sure we're all on the same page and we get back to where we need to be because we've got a tough opponent against Miami in a short period of time.

Q: Why is it important to get even the first team out in this first preseason game for a series or two?

To get timing. You cannot simulate the speed of the game, and I don't care how many years you've been in the league you cannot do that out on the practice field. So it's difficult, particularly -- offensively or defensively – just he timing involved, the communication that's involved, a chance for the first time to go live. You don't simulate that out here on the practice field. As close as you'd like to think you can come to that, you can't do that. We'll increase [playing time] with the first group but there's no substitute for game experience.

Q: Will Tyrone Carter start at free safety?

Yeah, him and Ryan Clark will go back and forth. That's probably how we'll start out but they're going to get equal playing time throughout this preseason.

Q: With free safety up for grabs, and the special role that position has in your defense, will you do a little more defensively in your preseason opener to see how those guys handle it?

No. No, you see a lot on this practice field. I don't have a concern with that. You're not talking about a couple rookies; you're talking about two guys who've played a lot of football in the National Football League. I'm very comfortable with where both those guys are and I'm really not that concerned about that position.

Q: Are you still monitoring Ben's heath status?

I don't think it has been [an issue]. Probably until he takes that first hit that'll be the last bit of apprehension you may have, or he may have – I still think it's there; he says it's not but I think it is; I think that it would be for anybody. I'm not concerned. He's not on any injury list other than some nagging injuries but nothing really relative to the accident.

Q: Who'll start at receiver?

Cedrick [Wilson] and Nate [Washington]. Nate's starting because Hines is not playing.

Q: Have you noticed any change in Ben?

I, no, I haven't. I haven't really looked for it to be honest with you. I'm looking at a lot of other things that are a little bit more relevant to this camp.

Q: Same old Ben?

Seems the same old guy to me.

Q: Could you talk about Willie Reid? Has he impressed you more than you expected as a wide receiver?

Yeah, Willie, you love his approach to the game. He's got a little bit of that Antwaan [Randle El] about him with the smile on his face. I think he's still a young player that's learning. We put him in the slot and thrown a lot at him, trying to move him around a little bit so I think like a young player who's not settled into one position, the more you move him around the more sometimes they start to run together a little bit. But he's getting better. I think it's one of those things that'll pay dividends down the road. Right now you'll see him do a really good thing and then he'll just blow a fuse. But it happens and there's no easy way to get there. We kind of moved Troy [Polamalu] around a lot in his first year and every now and then it would just start to get mingled in there. So I think he'll be fine. And I think we're doing it the right way, because I think in the long run he'll become a better football player because of it, but he's still going through those growing stages right now.

Q: Are you anxious to see what Santonio [Holmes] will do?

Yeah, he'll get a lot of time. He'll get a chance to play because we've got to look at that position. We have to get him ready to play, just like with Willie Reid. Nate needs to get playing time as well, which will be good for him going against some of the top people. Last year, even with Nate, I mean, Nate Washington's had a great camp but when he played last preseason a lot of it was in the fourth quarter. Then he got a chance to play in the playoffs, and now let's see him get a chance to get up there and play with the first group. I think it'll be great for him. You're talking about that, Quincy Morgan, [Lee] Mays, Sean Morey. There are some good players, not just on offense but we have to see how these guys can perform in the kicking game as well.

Q: What's your rotation at the punt and kick returning spots?

I haven't really given much thought to that. Probably with the punt return I can envision Willie and Santonio back there. On kickoff returns those two guys as well, just to get a chance to look at them. Quincy will be back there but I know what Quincy can do. I'd like to get a chance to see those two young kids.

Q: What's your opinion of Ricardo Colclough?

Yeah Ricardo's done a good job. He's competed very well. He has started camp very well. He put too many balls on the ground catching punts; I don't like to see that but I like the way he's been out there. He's had a more consistent camp than he's had in years past; now let's see if we can translate that to the games and I think that'll be a telling sign.

Q: Who's the No. 2 left tackle?

Barrett Brooks.

Q: Would Willie Parker come back in the game for a short-yardage shot?

No. When guys are done they're done. We don't put guys back in. That doesn't work.

Q: Of the undrafted rookies, have any really impressed you?

There are a lot of them but I don't want to mention anybody and leave somebody out. … You'll see every year we've had some free agents make this team because they've seized opportunities. The 53 guys that make our football team may not be made up of the 53 best football players at their positions, but there are going to be some guys who make this team because of special teams. I truly believe that. It's important to have those type of players on your football team because it's one-third of the game.

Q: Can Anthony Smith factor into the starting spot?

I don't want to rule anything out but when you're looking at that position it's tough for a rookie to walk right in there and do that. Darren [Perry] may be the lone ranger but he did that because we had no other choice. We had a lot of people hurt. Now, Darren never looked back either. I think Anthony Smith is a good football player; there's no question about that. And I think that even within some of the sub packages we have he's getting a lot of reps in there. Mike Logan has had an excellent camp to this point too, so there's no question there are going to be some tough decisions to make back there, along with receiver. At those two positions there are quality players.

Q: Will [Marvin] Philip play more?

Yes, Marvin will get an extended stay at center. He's done a good job. He's a very mature young man and he's got a chance to work against a pretty active defense and seeing all the stuff that we throw at people, particularly our offense because a lot of it's been competitive to this point. I'd be surprised if he doesn't do a very good job Saturday. He seems to have a good demeanor himself for that position, so I'm kind of anxious to see how he plays to be honest with you.

Q: Anxious to get a game?

Yes.

Q: Is Mike Barr challenging Chris Gardocki?

Yeah, I like Mike Barr. He's got a very strong leg, very powerful leg. He's also done a good job holding, so there's no question he's a guy we're going to take a strong look at.

Q: Did you flip flop the holders?

Yeah. We'll do that through the preseason.

Q: Bill, is the whole Roethlisberger story officially a much bigger deal to the media than it is to the coaches and players?

Without a doubt.

Q: Much bigger? Much, much, much bigger?

I know it has been to you this morning.

Q: Fair enough.

No, I mean I'll answer the questions.

Q: You've turned the page then?

Oh, a long time ago.

(Bold italics indicates a national reporter/gunslinger in town).


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