Insiders Report Thursday 9/5/02

PITTSBURGH - Boy, couldn't we all use another week to preview this game? <p>AAAARRRGGGHHH! Enough is enough. This game has been discussed more than a Super Bowl. Anyway, the countdown is now at less than 100 hours ... and we're all happier than pigs in mud about it.

Anyway, Jason Gildon missed practice today with a pain in the neck. He woke up with "a stiff neck and was held out of practice for precautionary reasons." Said Gildon: "It's not a big deal at all." He expects to practice Friday.

Hines Ward talked about how good he's feeling, but Kendrell Bell didn't linger in the locker room long enough to talk about an ankle injury that's obviously limiting his lateral movement. He'll need every one of those 100 hours to recover, although adrenaline will go a long way Monday night.

An interview with Kevin Spencer reveals at least one assistant coach who likes the way Chris Hope is playing. Not to be tough on the third-round pick, but his progress at safety has been slow, although Spencer likes what Hope's doing on special teams. Hope and Hank Poteat will be the gunners on punt coverage. Lee Mays and Poteat will return kickoffs, and Antwaan Randle El will return punts.

The Patriots may have won the Super Bowl, but that didn't prevent Bill Belichick from changing four-fifths of his offensive line. Damien Woody has moved from center to right guard; right guard Joe Andruzzi has moved to left guard; Mike Compton is the center; and Kenyatta Jones has replaced Greg Robinson-Randall at right tackle.

Said Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen: "I don't find that odd. They still play very well together. They're a smart group. One-on-one, in space, I think Woody's very good, Compton's solid, but they're better together than they are individually."

In a magazine called NFL Insider, here's what was written by Phil Barber, with an interesting quote from Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis:

How Feisty is Lewis? He bristles at the revelation that he, (Bill) Cowher, and (Lovie) Smith are lumped together in this story, arguing that focusing on his former boss disrespects current Steelers defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, who draws up most of the schemes these days. "Bill never calls plays," Marvin Lewis says of Cowher. "I think the last one he did call went for a touchdown the other way."

-- Jim Wexell

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