Notebook: McFadden making move on job

PITTSBURGH – If Bill Cowher makes a change at cornerback for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, don't assume Bryant McFadden would replace Deshea Townsend.

After Wednesday's practice, it was the other cornerback, Ike Taylor, who had the sad eyes and the mob of reporters around him.

"That's how it is," Taylor explained of his apparent benching. "I've got to work my way up, plain and simple."

What did the coaches tell Taylor?

"Coach said just fight your way out."

Apparently Taylor has gone from the man the Pittsburgh Steelers used to shadow the opponent's best receiver to dime back because of a horrible game Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

Taylor was beaten for two touchdown passes, among other passes, by Javon Walker, and was a main culprit in allowing Walker's 72-yard run for a touchdown. Taylor left his lane and bowled over safety Ryan Clark on the play, but Clark was there to lend Taylor support after Wednesday's practice.

"There's no way he should be taking all the blame and having all this media attention," Clark said. "Guy plays well every week and has a couple of bad plays. It's part of the game. Those guys get paid well too.

"I don't think you have to change it because, obviously, we've been successful doing it before. You have one week where another guy makes plays; I mean, Javon Walker is no slacker."

Walker caught six passes for 134 yards in Denver's 31-20 win last Sunday. Both of his touchdowns came on fade passes.

"Timing is probably the key with that," said McFadden, the second-year corner. "When you're going against a taller receiver and they throw the ball up, you want to use your timing to the best of your ability, not be too early or too late, and just play his hands and his eyes and fight for the ball."

Does McFadden expect to see a fade pass to New Orleans' tall rookie Marques Colston?

"I know if I was an offensive coordinator, with a guy about 6-4, 6-3, that's a nice advantage to have, so why wouldn't they?" he said.


James Harrison and Willie Reid have been ruled out for the fifth consecutive game, but both players expect to return next week.

"Hopefully," said Harrison, a linebacker and special-teams ace. "I wanted to come back this week. We'll see how the ankle feels and how my body feels. When my body feels good I'll be there."

Reid, the rookie punt returner, has been out with a mid-foot injury that was worse than at first thought.

"I'm aiming and pointing right now for next week," said Reid, who likened his injury to the dreaded Lis Franc foot injury that's cost many players their careers.

"It was something like that," he said. "I was fortunate enough not to have to have surgery on it. It wasn't that bad, but it was like a Lis Franc injury. It was messed up, but it's come back together around. My time is coming. I just have to be ready when it does."

Listed as doubtful are center Jeff Hartings (knee) and reserve buck linebacker Clint Kriewaldt (back). With starting buck backer James Farrior questionable with a groin injury, the Steelers could be without a proven signal-caller on defense.

"Larry [Foote] knows the defense good enough," Kriewaldt said. "They'll just move Larry over to buck. He can make the calls. Getting the reps all week will help him out a lot. He hasn't done it much but I know Larry could handle it."

Problem is, Foote is questionable with sore ribs, although he did practice Wednesday.


Tight end Ernie Conwell has been ruled out. Listed as questionable are OT Jammal Brown (ankle), WR Joe Horn (groin), TE Nate Lawrie (back) and CB Fred Thomas (hamstring). All but Brown missed Wednesday's practice. Brown was replaced last Sunday by rookie seventh-round pick Zach Strief from Northwestern. Strief didn't allow a sack or a pressure in the game.

"I'm not surprised," said Steelers lineman Trai Essex, a former college teammate of Strief's. "I was surprised he lasted till the seventh round to be honest. The man's an animal. He's huge, with good feet. He has great feet. I didn't know he started though. Wow."


The Steelers signed linebacker Ron Stanley to their practice squad and released Justin Kurpeikis. Stanley was with the team at the last two training camps.

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