preseason games, the Pittsburgh Steelers' running game has produced a
disappointing 260 yards on 83 attempts - a 3.1 yards per carry average. And only
159 of those yards have come from the Steelers' running backs, who are averaging
just 2.5 yards per attempt on their 63 preseason carries.
Jerome Bettis has picked up a mere 32 yards on 19 carries, while top backup Amos
Zereoue hasn't fared much better with 43 yards on 17 attempts.
in mind, head coach Bill Cowher is deviating from his usual preseason policy and
will play the team's starters a full half in the team's final tune-up before the
regular season on Thursday at Heinz Field against the Minnesota Vikings.
changing and it can't be any worse than the last two openers we played,"
said Cowher, who has seen the Steelers beaten by a combined score of 37-3
against Baltimore and Jacksonville in the past two season openers. "I look
at myself, too, and maybe I've done a poor job of getting this team prepared.
I'm taking a different approach and I've explained that to the players."
Steelers are 4-6 in 10 season openers under Cowher, who previously played his
starters for only a series or two in the team's final preseason game. But with
injuries and other factors limiting the time the starting unit has spent on the
field together, the players admit they need the extra playing time to get on the
same page together.
just been little things here and there," said right guard Oliver Ross, who
struggled mightily in the team's 34-22 victory at Detroit Saturday. "I know
myself, I'm looking forward to getting back on the field and doing some positive
things. I had a really bad game Saturday that I need to put behind me. We'll get
this thing going. It's not something to be worried about."
full days off before their regular season opener at New England, the Steelers'
regulars will have plenty of time to heal before they play again. And
considering Bettis and Zereoue have played sparingly while coming back from
serious health problems - Bettis a torn groin muscle and Zereoue an operation on
his liver - the extra playing time should be helpful.
receiver Hines Ward, who is also out with after having an appendectomy last
Friday, wishes he could play in the finale to get on the same page as
quarterback Kordell Stewart, who did not play in the team's victory over Detroit
after suffering a concussion during the first quarter against Washington nine
know our running game is not where it needs to be right now, but we're not
worried about that. It's some minor things," said Ward. "Watching the
films, we've just been a step away here and there from having a big play. I
think everything is coming along fine. Once we get myself back and Kordell back,
and get everybody healthy, we'll be all right."