Lewis owes debt to Cowher

PITTSBURGH – Marvin Lewis knows Pittsburgh. He knows the Steelers. He knows Bill Cowher. But he does not know whether Cowher is coaching his last game Sunday in Cincinnati against Lewis's Bengals.

"If it is his last game, it will be a dog-gone shame," said Lewis. "What he has done is unparalleled -- to be the head coach there for 15 seasons like that and to have the success right from the start, and all the fine players and teams and how hard they play for him. I would be very honored."

Lewis got his start in NFL coaching from Cowher, when the new Pittsburgh Steelers coach hired him from Pitt in 1992. Lewis was the Steelers' linebackers coach from 1992 to 1995 before becoming the defensive coordinator in Baltimore in 1996.

Lewis said the most important thing he learned from Cowher was "that each and every day you have to find a way to make your players better and to get them to play hard and enjoy the game, and to be demanding from the coaches as well."

Lewis may have taught Cowher something, too. When Lewis left Baltimore to become the assistant head coach of the Washington Redskins in 2002, he kept his wife, daughter and son in Baltimore while he remained in Washington to coach. Does he have any insight into whether Cowher can do the same with his family in Raleigh, North Carolina?

"I am not going to get into commenting on that stuff," Lewis said. "Bill is a very good friend of mine. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Bill Cowher."


While Lewis would consider it an honor, Steelers defensive co-captain Joey Porter would consider Cowher coaching his last game with the Steelers on Sunday "a touchy situation."

"I don't think anyone in this locker room would want this to be his last game," Porter said. "A touchy situation like that, not one of us has an impact on how that's going to go. You just kind of stay out of that situation. That's the man's business and hopefully he's here. That's all I'm hoping for. Until he tells me anything different, that's what I'm planning for."

Would the possibility of Cowher leaving provide extra motivation against the Bengals?

"No," Porter said. "That's not the motivation anyone's using because they haven't come up and said nothing like that to us in the locker room. That's not a motivational speech that you could use until something like that is said. We've heard none of that. Our motivation is to go out there and finish strong. We started off 2-6, so it'd be good to finish 6-2, finish 8-8, save face a little bit. We're not where we wanted to be but it is what it is. If finishing 8-8 is all we can do, that's what we want to do."


Willie Colon, the fourth-round pick from Hofstra, saw his first NFL action Sunday against the Ravens. He started in place of Max Starks at right tackle and wasn't responsible for any of the five sacks by the Ravens. Cowher said of Colon, "He did okay at times."

"I thought it went pretty good," Colon said. "I was able to be effective for the most part. There were a couple of slip-ups here and there but that's going to happen on your first start. It would've been better if we won."

Colon said he cramped up and "kind of gassed out a little bit" in the fourth quarter, but agreed that his second-quarter work on pass-rusher Terrell Suggs was his highlight.

"He was getting upset," Colon said. "He tried to hit me a couple plays and I just tried to show up. I just played him inside out all the way through. A lot of those guys like the inside move and I took it away and gave him a one-way option and he was getting frustrated and that happened."

Suggs hit Colon late after one play and drew a 15-yard personal foul.

"I was blessed to get this Baltimore game," Colon said. "I got to feel how the O-line communicates, how Ben is when he's back there; a lot of little things that were involved that I learned on Sunday. Now I need a lot more film work, a lot more meetings and work on technique."


Walter Young returned to the Steelers' practice squad Wednesday. The wide receiver had been promoted to the active roster, but was cut before Sunday's game to make room for linebacker Richard Seigler.


Missing Wednesday's practice for the Steelers were safety Ryan Clark (groin), tackle Max Starks (knee), linebacker Clark Haggans (knee) and center Jeff Hartings (knee). Clark and Starks have been ruled out of Sunday's game, while Haggans is doubtful and Hartings is probable.

Missing practice for the Bengals were defensive tackle Sam Adams (illness/probable), tackle Willie Anderson (foot/probable), defensive end Bryan Robinson (toe/probable), guard Eric Steinbach (illness/probable) and safety Madieu Williams (thigh/probable).

Bengals center Rich Braham, listed as doubtful, retired yesterday.


To make the playoffs, the 8-7 Bengals need a win over the 7-8 Steelers on Sunday and either A.) a loss by the New York Jets, or B.) a loss by the Denver Broncos plus a win by the Kansas City Chiefs.

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