Cowher Holds Court As Jets Game Nears

Steelers head coach Bill Cowher met with the media today, and talked about the lineups and playing time expectations for Thursday night's game vs the New York Jets.

Bill Cowher:

OK, from a health standpoint going into the game the only player that's definitely not going to play is Dallas Davis. He's definitely out with a hamstring. Questionable is Mike Logan and he'll do a little bit the next couple days and we'll see where he's at. Everyone else, at this time, should be available to us. As far as playing, the starters will play a series or two, not much more than that. And then we'll have an opportunity to see a lot of people competing for this roster play the rest of the game. We haven't really set a time frame as a staff. We'll see how the next couple days unfold in regards to the health status of some of the players, but I would anticipate the quarterback rotation starting with Kordell [Stewart], Tommy [Maddox] relieving him, and I can see Tommy playing the remainder of the first half, and then Charlie [Batch] and Tee [Martin] in the third and fourth quarter. Again, maybe not. We'll see how that kind of unfolds. I think the plan going in is to have all four of them playing but we'll see how the game materializes and kind of go from there. I don't want to say it's an absolute but that's kind of the plan going in. I think we're all eager to play someone other than the Pittsburgh Steelers. It seems like we've been going against each other for quite awhile here.

Q: Who will open in the slot, Terance [Mathis]?

A: No, I mean right now we have Antwaan [Randle El] and Hines [Ward] inside with Troy [Edwards] and Plax [Burress] outside.

Q: Who starts at wide receiver?

A: Hines and Plax.

Q: Are you using Hines first in that slot?

A: Yeah, that's how we'll start out.

Q: Is that an indication of how Troy has come along?

A: I think it's where we are after we went through the off-season program. Those guys have worked hard. I think they're all working very hard and we'll see how Antwaan can do there. We can always move other people around and Terance has had a pretty good camp, so we'll see how that whole thing kind of unfolds. Terance has done a lot of good things as well and Lee Mays, so we feel we have some options, but that's how we're starting.

Q: It's tough for a guy to miss those two months before training camp and jump right in as Terance has.

A: Certainly from the standpoint of not having the understanding that some of the other players have, even some of the rookies. They're still getting it on the fly but I think the other part that makes up for that is their experience. They've played at this level, been successful at this level. It's really just them getting acclimated to the terminology, not so much getting acclimated to the speed of the game or playing the game at this level. I think that allows that process to take place a lot quicker because of that.

Q: Will [John] Fiala start at inside linebacker?

A: He will probably start. Yeah, he'll start. And then James [Farrior] will play quite a bit.

Q: Are you going to go with Kendrell [Bell] in the dime on the right side and Joey [Porter] inside?

A: Yeah.

Q: How has that new dime alignment looked so far?

A: It's looked fine so far. Again, we haven't been in any game situations and so, you know, I think it's been good. I mean, they're getting comfortable. Joey, you just can't get enough repetitions for him and certainly an opportunity to play against a different offense, I think, through the course of this preseason, it's going to be an ongoing growing process for him. It's a new role with new responsibilities. There's going to be some growing pains with that. I think that's understandable. It's not something you're going to get overnight. We just have to be very patient. Same thing with Kendrell in terms of being a down rusher. There's added responsibility with him, just understanding the games, the blitzes, all those things that another down brings, responsibility-wise. I think we're putting two good football players on the field. How long they become very sound at what they're doing remains to be seen. They may make some plays and they may screw up some plays. I think we're still attempting to put the best 11 guys out there and recognizing that, as long as they keep working at it, I think, in the long run we're going to benefit from it.

Q: Will Oliver [Ross] go out after a series, too, at right guard, or will you keep him in a little bit longer?

A: Well, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. We haven't really sat down and talked. Obviously, we don't look at him like we look at Alan Faneca. Alan's fine. He knows what he's doing. Oliver still does need to play some because he is indeed like a rookie from the standpoint of not having a lot. He played a little bit there last year, but he's fighting for that job, so him and Kendall [Simmons] and Keydrick [Vincent] will play a lot, probably mostly though Oliver and Kendall at this point. We haven't set it, but that's how I would perceive it going in. He'll play a little bit longer.

Q: What about kick returns and punt returns?

A: Well, you know, Hank [Poteat], Troy, Antwaan Randle El. I think those three guys will handle the majority of it, kickoff and punt.

Q: What do you hear about Vinny [Testaverde]?

A: I'm not sure how much he'll play. If he plays at all it might be a series or two. I think we'll see a lot of Chad Pennington. That's what my understanding is.

Q: With his thumb being banged up, maybe not playing as much, is it a little unfortunate for your defense that it can't play against their No. 1 QB?

A: We don't worry about that. I think right now we're in a situation where we're not so much worried about game-planning for the Jets. We want to go out there and play well for us. Regardless of who's in there, our guys will be in there for a short period of time. Then we'll have a chance to get the other players in. It's going to be important. We want to keep it so we can allow them to play and not be an evaluation of them and how comfortable in the system. These are very important games because it's important to see how some of these young guys will be able to carry it over to the game situations, so I'm not too worried about who's playing for them. More importantly is how we're playing as a team.

Q: Anybody you're particularly curious about?

A: No. There's been some flashes of some players out here, but again I like to see now them playing extensively in games. We haven't had any true tackling for 60 minutes. We've had signs of it in the goal line. When it becomes a true contact, full hitting game, it's amazing how some things can change. Some players can step forward and when the situation arises they're football players. It will be interesting to see. There'll be a lot of interesting battles taking place, so this will be an important game for a lot of guys.

Q: What are you most interested in seeing out of Randle El?

A: Nothing really different than what we've been seeing. He's a guy -- as you saw him play in college, you saw him play at the Senior Bowl, you see him here at times – when he's got the ball in his hands he makes things happen. That's just the type of player he is. I don't think there's any question about that. Can he now make the transition into reading defenses, to making the right adjustments, to be able to move on from one play to the other? And all the multiple things he's going to be looking at. But when you look at the way he's done it against our defense in this camp, which will give you as many different looks as anybody's going to give him, I mean I think he's handled it very well. I'd be surprised if he didn't do well. I think he's just a very natural player in there and I think he's getting more comfortable in there.

Q: When you go three wides, will it be Hines first in the slot?

A: Correct.

Q: That would give us Troy and Plax outside?

A: Correct.

Q: Curious to see Todd [Peterson] kicking down there?

A: Yeah. It will be good to see him kicking. I know he's been down there before, but I'm anxious to see the whole operation again. So, yeah, that'll be -- hopefully he'll have some positive experiences.

Q: Will he handle all the kickoffs?

A: I don't think all of them. He may do some. Joe [O'Donnell] would be the next guy.

Q: How has Troy Edwards done in camp? I mean, he had a pretty difficult off-season.

A: I didn't think his off-season was that difficult to be honest with you. He's been fine. He's been good.


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