Notebook: Large Steelers showing expected

The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the NFL's largest fan bases, and Rams quarterback and Pittsburgh native Marc Bulger expects a big showing tonight in St. Louis.

PITTSBURGH – St. Louis has never been much of a football town, and it grew even less interested with each Rams loss this season.

Last week, Green Bay Packers fans bought up nearly half of their 66,000 tickets to the Edwards Jones Dome, according to Rams quarterback Marc Bulger.

"I'd say there were at least 30,000 of them," Bulger said. "It was pretty loud for them. Everyone's a little upset here about it, but I'm trying to warn everyone: It could be worse this week."

Steelers fans have been buying up tickets to the Rams game all season.

"When you only win three games, you only get maybe a half an article in the paper now and it's usually not good," Bulger said. "I know lot of people that are coming out, and I just know how Pittsburgh fans are, growing up there. It's going to be a lot, especially with the holiday. I think some people might be taking a couple extra days off. I'm expecting a bunch."

"It's definitely a baseball town," said Steelers fullback Carey Davis, a St. Louis native. "The Cardinals run that city. It always has been that way. I love baseball. I love the Cardinals myself. I'm a Cardinals guy."

As for Bulger, a Central Catholic High graduate, playing the Steelers isn't what it used to be.

"When I was at West Virginia playing Pitt it was a huge deal, and then my first time playing (the Steelers) in Pittsburgh was a huge deal," he said. "This one isn't quite as big a deal. I don't know if it's because we're having a bad season or because I've been in the league seven years, but it honestly does feel like another game.

"I've been out here now so long and don't get to know the team, yet before when we played the Steelers I knew every guy on defense and offense. I could tell you the whole roster but now I'm looking at it and I'm struggling, so that helps a little bit taking the personal side out of it."

Bulger, a West Virginia graduate, was asked what he thought about Rich Rodriguez leaving the program to coach Michigan.

"Yeaaahhh," he said with a sigh. "I'm still emotional about it. I don't think I should talk about it. You know, good for Michigan. They took two of our guys now and hopefully we get a good replacement."

SHUFFLING THE DECK

In the second half of their game against the Jaguars, the Steelers used Tyrone Carter at safety in place of Anthony Smith. That will continue tonight and Smith will be the third safety.

Troy Polamalu, who returned last week after a three-week absence, will be used as a free safety on occasion, since he has better coverage skills than either Carter or Smith.

The Steelers also expect to give rookie LaMarr Woodley more playing time at left outside linebacker in place of the banged-up Clark Haggans. Also, Max Starks will start at left tackle in place of the injured Marvel Smith.

Left cornerback Ike Taylor has a sprained knee and could be replaced by Bryant McFadden, who would switch sides with Deshea Townsend.

QUICK HITTERS

With 1,317 yards rushing, Willie Parker leads the NFL by six yards over LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers. … Dante Hall of the Rams is third in the NFL in punt-return average (15.1) and 11th in kickoff-return average (25.1). … Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe is tied for second in the NFL with seven interceptions. … The Rams are the worst team in the NFL in percentage of passes intercepted and covering kickoffs. … Familiar faces with the Rams include defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, defensive backs coach Wily Robinson, quarterbacks Bulger and Gus Frerotte, and former Pitt tackle Rob Petitti.


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