"That was my impression," Rivers told Pittsburgh reporters Wednesday. "As most players do going into the draft, they get somewhat of an idea at some point, but who knows what's going to happen. I got the impression from San Diego at the Senior Bowl, and I got the impression that if not San Diego then Pittsburgh." What did Cowher tell him during that draft season?
"I had a very brief conversation with him at the combine and the workout," Rivers said. "All the interviews and stuff were good, and he knows Chuck Amato well, who's our head coach. I was getting some feedback from him. I have a lot of respect for coach Cowher, for what he's done in Pittsburgh. Coming from the same school, we feel like we have a tie there."
The Pittsburgh Steelers, at the time, believed Rivers was ready to play sooner than Roethlisberger. But since they felt Tommy Maddox had a few years left as an effective quarterback, they coveted Roethlisberger's long-term potential and were happy to grab him with the 11th pick.
Does Rivers, who sat the bench his first two seasons, ever look at the Steelers and think that could've been him quarterbacking in the Super Bowl?
"No, I didn't," he said. "We feel like the time for the Chargers is now, so I don't. The last two years were tough at times, but I honestly am thankful for them. I really am. I feel like I benefited, that it's helped me out on the field. I'm not performing at the level I want to at this point. I feel confident that I'm getting better every week. The last two years have certainly paid off."
Rivers has the Chargers off to a 2-1 start with a passer rating of 96.9. He's turned the ball over only once and been sacked only once, but the Steelers aren't all that impressed.
"They're not letting him do too much," said linebacker Joey Porter. "But at the same time he's managing the game pretty well. They're not going to go in there and ask him to throw the ball 30 times. They'll go in there asking him to manage the game. For the most part he's been doing pretty well."
Could the Steelers confuse Rivers with some of their exotic blitzes?
"We definitely have the scheme to go out there and rattle any quarterback," Porter said. "We'll see how he handles it."
COLCLOUGH AWAITING RESULTS
Ricardo Colclough is listed as questionable with a neck injury, but he's worried about missing more than Sunday's game. There's a chance his career could come to an end.
"Possibly, if it's not taken care of," he said. "But I really don't know too much about what's going on. I have to wait for all the test results to come back to see what's happening."
Colclough practiced yesterday but must avoid contact. He felt neck pain Monday and sought out trainer John Norwig.
"He started making these decisions and different diagnoses and stuff, but I really don't know what's going on until the results come back and we sit down and talk about it."
The results are due back today and Colclough wouldn't discuss the possibilities.
On the field, he's trying to deal with his critical fourth-quarter fumble that changed the momentum in the Steelers' loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
"It's made me stronger because now I'm working harder than I was before," he said. "Before I was working hard, but now it's to the point where I'm working extra hard. I might not be doing the things that I've been doing before, but that doesn't really matter. As long as I'm out there playing football that's what makes me happy."
In case Colclough can't play football the rest of the season, the Steelers worked out a pair of rookie cornerbacks – Josh Lay of Pitt and Jovon Johnson of Iowa. The two are potential practice-squad players in case the team promotes rookie Anthony Madison.
• Nate Washington on dropping a touchdown pass against the Bengals: "I didn't use my hands. I don't want to make excuses, but my finger has been messed up so I've been second-guessing my hands lately. But it's doing a lot, lot better now, so it's back to my regular stuff."
• Hines Ward on why rookie receivers struggle: "It's hard, man, to come in, to learn on the run, to see coverage while you're running. You're doing a lot of thinking and when you're doing a lot of thinking you're not running as fast; you're not sure of your routes and whatnot. It's an adjustment. There's only been one rookie come in and dominate the game and that was Randy Moss."
• Rookie safety Anthony Smith on playing with instincts as opposed to thinking on the run: "I try not to think too much. That's one of the strengths of my game."