Notebook: QBs praise Whipple

PITTSBURGH – Brian St. Pierre played at Boston College and in Pittsburgh he played under Mark Whipple. He believes the two are meant for each other.

"I think he'd do a great job there," said St. Pierre, a backup quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"He's got a lot of ties in the New England area; he's been a head coach at three different places in New England; he's had success everywhere he's been. He's just a natural fit. I'd be surprised if he didn't get it."

Whipple is the frontrunner for the Boston College job that opened recently when Tom O'Brien took the head job at North Carolina State.

Whipple left the University of Massachusetts to coach the Steelers' quarterbacks in 2004. St. Pierre was entering his second year in the NFL then. A guy named Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie.

"Coach Whip's been great for me because he's not a yeller," said Roethlisberger. "That's best for me. I don't respond well to someone who just sits there and screams at me. So, he's been a guy who's almost been a sounding board. You know, I come off [to] the sideline and I can talk. He kind of tells me what he sees; I tell him what I see. He's really helped my development as quarterback in this league."

Roethlisberger likes the fact that Whipple hasn't tried to overcoach him these past three seasons.

"He's never tried to change my mechanics," Roethlisberger said. "He's never tried to do too much with me, and that's what's been great. It's been more, ‘What do you see on the field and let's read it out and talk.' He's kind of let me come to him with stuff. I've gone up to him and we've worked through the offense, we've worked through the no-huddle stuff, we've worked through hots and sites and blitzes and stuff. That's what I like about Coach Whip. He's kind of just said, ‘When you're ready to talk about something, you'll come to me.' And I've done that. That's what's been great about having him here."

"There's an overall comfort in our room with all the quarterbacks," said St. Pierre. "It's a real open room. We all get along well and he helps breed that kind of atmosphere and environment. He's really hands-on. He can speak to you on a level that you don't always feel like you're under pressure to give the right answer. It's just a comfortable environment, very loose. And I think that's a product of how this team is, but it definitely, in that room, for sure has something to do with him too."

CAREER FIRSTS

John Kuhn averages 16 yards per carry to lead the Steelers, but he's not sure if he leads the league.

"Do I qualify with one run?" he asked.

No, but Kuhn qualified for the NFL Encyclopedia with his first pro carry for 16 yards against the Cleveland Browns last Thursday. The first-year player from Division II Shippensburg University broke through the line and converted the Steelers' last first down of the game. They took a knee on the next snap.

"It was pretty exciting," he said. "But when I looked back on it it really bothered me for awhile. I was like, man, I should've scored there. I was just so worried about staying in bounds and holding on to the ball. But we got the first down and then took the knee. I was like, man, let's run one more."

Wide receiver Walter Young also found his way onto the stat sheet for the first time. A three-year member of the Steelers' practice squad, Young converted a first down on third-and-nine with a 17-yard reception, the first of his career. He flipped the ball away, but a few wily vets retrieved it for him.

"Hines [Ward] and Charlie [Batch] worked it out. I got it yesterday," Young said. "Right after it happened, right after I threw it away, they said, ‘Man, you threw that ball away, but we got it for you.'"

INJURY REPORT

At his Monday press conference Bill Cowher called S Ryan Clark (groin) and WR Hines Ward (knee) "questionable" for Sunday's game at Carolina, but the initial injury report of the week had the two players listed as probable. Safeties Mike Logan (hamstring) and Troy Polamalu (knee), and WR Cedrick Wilson (ankle) are doubtful and missed Wednesday's practice. … Listed as questionable on the Carolina injury report are WR Taye Biddle (groin), QB Jake Delhomme (right thumb), CB Chris Gamble (thigh), RB Nick Goings (shoulder), LB Brandon Jamison (thigh), CB Ken Lucas (thigh) and TE Kris Mangum (hip). All but Jamison missed Wednesday's practice. Panthers Coach John Fox called Delhomme "day to day" and said his starting cornerbacks – Gamble and Lucas – could also return to action Sunday.

QUOTABLE

Fox on whether the league over-protects quarterbacks: "I'm not sure that this protection is really protecting them as much as it's maybe not protecting the integrity of the game."


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