It's not that the Steelers would miss his 2.0-yard average per return, but the alternative is a scary proposition. If Holmes can't play, Cowher will consider Ricardo Colclough
After fumbling his way through training camp, Colclough muffed his only punt in the opener and then bobbled his only punt Monday night. But, there is hope.
"If he can't go, Willie Reid will be up," Cowher said of the other rookie wide receiver.
Reid made 10 of the team's 14 punt returns in preseason and averaged 8.8 yards per return. He's been inactive in the regular season. Cowher was asked if Reid would also replace Holmes on returns.
"We'll see how it unfolds but he certainly would be back there with Ricardo for kickoffs," Cowher said, before adding: "And then we'll see how it is with punts, too. We'll see how it goes."
If Cowher uses Colclough again, and Colclough fumbles again, Heinz Field could turn ugly.
"We'll know more [Friday]," Cowher said of Holmes. "He has an inflammation of the arch on his foot. We ruled out any stress fracture or anything like that. He came out yesterday and really couldn't cut on it. We'll see how he feels [Friday] and make a decision accordingly."
INJURED OR HURT?
The way safety Troy Polamalu drags his right arm on the playing field, one might think he's risking further injury by continuing to play. But Cowher believes he knows the fine line between being injured and playing hurt.
"He's hurt," Cowher said. "I've always tried to differentiate between a guy playing hurt and a guy who's injured. Someone who's injured and there's risk to further damage, we weigh that and we would not subject a player to doing something that could have long-term effects. I think what Troy is dealing with right now is something that's going to get better with time, but he's having to play with some pain. To his credit he's gone out there and played very efficiently. I think that the bye week will help immensely next week so I think he's just kind of trying to get through to then."
Polamalu and Holmes are listed as questionable.
"Questionable in a game like this means they're playing," said defensive end Aaron Smith, who was asked about the Bengals' hurt offensive line.
"The only one who's hurt is [Rich] Braham," Smith said. "Braham's a good player. He's smart and doesn't make mistakes, which is a big part of being the center. He always calls the protections and stuff. He's strong. He's a good quality player. He's not going to beat himself. That's the thing. A lot of times guys will make a mistake and that's when you capitalize. But he's not going to make those mistakes."
MONDAY NIGHT FEVER
Ben Roethlisberger's fever Monday was 100.4, not 104 as reported by ESPN's Michele Tafoya.
"I don't want to throw Michele under the bus. I think she's an awesome reporter and a good person. I'm not sure where she, you know, got the information from because, you know me, I don't share anything with you guys. I don't tell you guys anything. So I don't know if she overheard I was telling Chris Berman about it, and I told him 100.4 and I don't know if she overheard it wrong. I don't know what it was. It might've just been miscommunication but nothing against her and hopefully she doesn't hold it against me."
A PICK BUT NO PARTY
Did Haggans throw a party?
"No. I just got laughed at," he said. "We lost the game so I didn't really think about it much, but I've got the ball right there in my locker. I have it marked with the time and date." Did the boys get on him?
"They said ‘Oh my God you can actually catch.'"
THE WARD REPORT
Hines Ward, in the role of reporter, surveyed several Steelers to determine if they knew the only jersey number retired by the Pittsburgh Steelers and who wore it. Ward interviewed Roethlisberger in front of a pack of reporters and Roethlisberger told Ward it was No. 70 and it was worn by Ernie Stautner. Both answers are correct.
So, how did the stats come out in Ward's survey?
"Not too good," Ward said.
How many knew the answer? "Zero."
Didn't Roethlisberger get it right?
"No. Somebody tipped Ben off," Ward said. "I wanted to put it on my show to actually see how much guys know about their own history. Next week it's going to be: Why do we have only one sticker on our helmet? I asked Mr. Rooney that myself."
Tune in next week for the answer.