Insiders Report Wednesday 9/4/02

Despite head coach Bill Cowher's decision not to name a starter at right guard less than one week before the team's season-opener at New England, Oliver Ross continues to treat the position as his own. Ross, who entered training camp in a battle with No. 1 draft pick Kendall Simmons for the starting right guard position, said Cowher's decision hasn't changed his outlook.

"I practiced for every game like I was a starter last season and I'm still going to do that," said Ross, who started seven games last season, including five at right guard.

Simmons is back at practice this week after sitting out two weeks of practice and missing the team's final two preseason games with a hamstring injury. Right now, he's trying to figure out New England's confusing defense.

"Their defense to me is confusing," said Simmons of the Patriots. "I really don't know what's going on with them. I'm just trying to go up and watch film with the older guys and seeing what I can learn from them."

Inside out
After playing over the slot receiver in the Steelers' dime defense the past three seasons, backup cornerback Deshea Townsend has been moved outside, with starting cornerback Chad Scott sliding inside to cover the slot. The Steelers would like to take advantage of Townsend's speed on the outside while giving the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Scott's blitzing ability from the slot.

"They both have their plusses and minuses for me," said Townsend. "You get to blitz more from the slot, but you get more chances at interceptions on the outside. But as long as I'm on the field somewhere, that's all that matters to me."

Scott should also be better able to play press coverage on the slot receivers than the 5-foot-9, 191-pound Townsend. "You play a little more physically inside," Townsend said. "It's more press coverage. I've played both of them and I'll probably play both this year, too."

Patriots' games
New England head coach Bill Belichick said that two days after the Patriots' Super Bowl victory over St. Louis in January, he was already into his preparations for the upcoming season. That left the painfully stoic Belichick a whole day to savor the win. "It was great," Belichick said. "I'd like to freeze that one."

Odds and end zones
All five players listed on the Steelers' injury list - linebackers Kendrell Bell and Clark Haggans, defensive lineman Chris Hoke, guard Kendall Simmons, and wide receiver Hines Ward - practiced Wednesday. ... Tight end John Allred, who wore No. 46 in the preseason, has changed his number to 85. Simmons, who wore 71 in the preseason, will now wear 73. ... After Colorado State's upset victory over Colorado Saturday, Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart, a Colorado product, was wearing a Colorado State hat in the locker room Wednesday. Outside linebackers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are also former Colorado State players.

Quote of the Day
Plaxico Burress on Belichick: "Belichick is like a genius over there. So it's going to come down to us making the right reads and making plays."

--Dale Lolley

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