BILL COWHER

OK, let me give you the players that will not play on Thursday night. They are Kendrell Bell, Clark Haggans, Kendall Simmons, Hines Ward and Troy Edwards. Everybody else should be available in some capacity. I talked about our approach to the game.">

BILL COWHER

OK, let me give you the players that will not play on Thursday night. They are Kendrell Bell, Clark Haggans, Kendall Simmons, Hines Ward and Troy Edwards. Everybody else should be available in some capacity. I talked about our approach to the game.">

Pre-Game Cowher Transcript

<font SIZE="2"> <p><b><font face="Arial" size="2">BILL COWHER</font></b></p> <p><font face="Arial" size="2">OK, let me give you the players that will not play on Thursday night. They are Kendrell Bell, Clark Haggans, Kendall Simmons, Hines Ward and Troy Edwards. Everybody else should be available in some capacity. I talked about our approach to the game.

The quarterback rotation: Kordell (Stewart) will play and we'll probably come in with Charlie (Batch) and go from there.

Q: Is Charlie second because he needs a little more work?

A: Yeah. He probably needs more work. He's spent the least amount of time with this offense.

Q: Has Kendall had a setback?

A: No. He's coming along. It's a hamstring and he's getting better. He ran a little bit yesterday. We're hopeful Monday to have the three players - Kendall, Clark Haggans and Kendrell - on the field for practice.

Q: Hines a little longer?

A: Maybe a little bit. I don't have all the information yet. Dr. Shower has to see him today and we'll get more of a clearance than. It's more from the standpoint from the cuts that were made in the stomach, see of they're healed.

Q: How much do you need to see of the running game? Or do you think it's there already?

A: No, I wouldn't say it's there. And that's not a very astute observation. Certainly, we'd like to continue to get better. We've gotten a little better but it's not where we need to be and we'll continue to work on it. That's what the preseason is for. But certainly we're nowhere near where we really would like to be as a team that prides itself on running the football. That's why, as I stated, we're further along than we've ever been throwing the ball, but certainly we've got to make sure people respect our running game and we have a lot of work to do in regards to that. Thursday will be another step in that direction.

Q: Have you spent any time the last couple of weeks working on New England?

A: No.

Q: And you won't this week?

A: No.

Q: Bill, will you be happy with the passing game as the quote unquote out pitch?

A: You've got to play with what you have. You've got to play to strengths. You've got to play to what you're doing well at this time. What are the match-ups that you have? I still think when you have a balanced offense, and that's what we're striving to create, that you now have an opportunity to adjust to a game and not feel like you're relying too heavily on one element of your football team. I think you've got to do what your players do best and what they're showing they can do on a regular basis. If that means we're becoming a throwing football team because that's what we do best, than so be it. I still think you have to be able to run the football in this league. I don't think you're going to live and die throwing the football. That's my opinion. I also think that you have to have balance. I said that last year when we were running the ball and not throwing the ball very well. You still have to be able to do both and that's what we're striving to do.

Q: Is that 60-40 one way or the other?

A: I'd like to think if you're winning football games, I'd like to think we'd be running the ball more than we'd be throwing it.

Q: Why do you think the running game isn't where it needs to be at this point?

A: That's hard to say. We're working on it. I don't sit there and assess and say, 'OK, we're right where we need to be.' Then you have a bad game and you say 'What happened?' It's an ongoing process, offensively, defensively. It's an ongoing process. …We've had breakdowns. One guy here; one guy there. Looking at the last game, we're getting closer. We're still having that one breakdown, but I can see the thing coming together a little bit closer. But we aren't where we need to be and I can't tell you why. I don't sit there and look and put it on a measuring scale and say 'This is where we need to be.' I don't know how it's going to unfold. I don't know how that first game's going to unfold. I don't know if we're going to go up to New England and end up throwing the ball 40 times, 50 times or 16 or 17 times. I can't tell you. And I probably won't be able to tell you Monday at around 6 o'clock before the game because I don't know how that game's going to unfold. But we like to feel that whatever we need to do, we can do.

Q: Bill, because of the way you guys are throwing the ball, do you think defenses are not quite as aggressive with their safeties?

A: Yeah. We haven't really game-planned anybody per se. You've got to be able to make adjustments in this game. When you're a good football team, you're going to end up having teams come at you and doing things differently. If you're an average football team or not a good football team, what you're going to see on film is probably what you're going to get. If you're a good football team, you're going to have to adjust during the game. So I look at these games and ask, 'What's our ability to adjust?' That's still what the game of football's all about. The best-laid plans don't always come to fruition when you play a game on Sunday afternoon. It's not always going to be just like you draw it up. But you know, 'Coach, I didn't go over that in practice.' I know. I didn't either. So let's talk about it and adjust to it. That's what the game of football's all about, and that to me is what the exhibition season, to a large degree, is to see how they can adjust.

It'll be interesting to see how teams play us. I don't know. We're throwing the ball pretty well, not running the ball as effectively as we are throwing it, but they still know our approach to the game and what we'd like to do.

Q: Does the offensive line as a unit need to work a little more than it has because of the injury?

A: I don't think so. I think they've worked pretty well together. Four of those five guys have been in there pretty steadily and actually Oliver's been in there a lot outside of Kendall, so I think it's been fine.

Q: Oliver's struggling at guard more than he seemed to last year. Can you touch on that?

A: He didn't play much guard last year. I think there's a little more scrutiny this year. He came in and did a good job and I think everyone's looking at him now under the microscope. He's not played up to where we think he can play at, but I like his demeanor. He's a tough kid. He'll keep battling back. You're not going to rattle the guy at all. You've just got to keep playing through it. That's what I like about Oliver Ross. He may get beat one play but he'll be back battling again the next play and that's all we can ask him to do. Hopefully he'll continue to get better with some of the little things, the techniques, some of the things he's seeing and some of the things he has to communicate.

Q: When you're putting a defense together, what's the most important aspect to stop first?

A: It's a philosophical question you're asking. I st


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