Cowher's Tuesday Press Conference

<b>BILL COWHER&nbsp;</b> <p> The health status of our team as we head up to Cleveland, we've got one person definitely out. That's Fu, Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, he tore his pec(toral muscle). That's a non-surgical procedure so he'll be out for two weeks. I don't plan on making any roster changes in regards to that injury. </p>

When was Fu hurt?

  • During the game, the last series. They tried to pull the ball out at that point.

Has Haynes shown that much to not force you to make a roster move?

  • Yeah. Certainly, there's an outside chance for Jerome and with two weeks we don't feel that that's a problem. Verron was the back-up again. We actually got him in for a play that was designed for him the other day. He's going to be the back-up tailback and Matt Cushing will learn the fullback position and be the back-up fullback.

Did Plaxico Burress need to apologize? And should the league suspend James Trapp?

  • I'm not going to pass judgment. I've talked to the league in regards to this situation and that conversation needs to stay between the league and myself. We've addressed it as a team and we'll address it again tomorrow when the players come back. I thought what Plax did was appropriate. I think there's a lesson to be learned in regards to the situation that took place. Again, as a football team, you like your players to defend one another and I wouldn't have expected it to be any differently. But at the same time, we've got to use good judgment and be smart about our actions because there can be an effect that can hinder the team in terms of our focus on winning football games. We're going back into another hostile environment this week. This will be a very big game. There will be a lot of high emotion. To an extent, it won't be very different than the game we just came out of.

 Do you expect fines?

  • Oh, I'm sure there will be. Any time you're ejected from the game there's an automatic fine that's associated with it.

Is there a fine line between defending yourself or your teammates and getting ejected?

  •  Sure there is. Sure there is. You certainly don't want to leave a guy out there when a situation takes place. Certainly you have to make sure you don't do anything in the heat of the moment, emotionally, that's spontaneous. They always say, "It's the second guy that gets caught."

 Why was he ejected?

  •  He was thrown out because he came in and hit a player after the play was over and, at the time the officials saw him, they felt he was a little out of control on the field.

 Was that before or after he was stomped?

  •  It was after it happened. He didn't take his helmet off. It was grabbed off his head. I don't want to go into detail. We have some footage that we've provided the league with and it's in their hands.

 You said it was appropriate?

  •  I did not.

 Yes you did.

  •  It was inappropriate. He's going to be fined, as he should be. I'm not condoning what took place on that field. Do I understand some of the things that took place? Yeah. I'm not condoning it though. I apologize if I was unclear. I appreciate you asking that follow-up question.

 Did you check in with the league over the fact the Ravens didn't list (Chris) Redman on their injured list?

  •  We've inquired about it. My understanding is that it happened Friday night and they didn't find out until Saturday. We didn't -- I didn't find out until Sunday morning.

 What were your impressions of the Browns comeback against the Jets?

  •  Impressive. I think it's been a very resilient team. They've gone through a lot. They just lost their owner and I'm sure that was very inspiring to them, as well it should be But they've been very resilient. They've come back from a lot of situations and it's a team at 4-4 that very easily could've been 5-3 or 6-2. Look at the games they lost to us in overtime and to Kansas City. This team could very easily be 6-2. So it's a very resilient team. Like I said, this will be a big, big challenge for our football team.

 Are you concerned about your team not being able to get motivated for a game?

  •  Not really. We've put ourselves in that situation. You sit back and build up to each game. That's the way the game of football in this league is. There's an emotional letdown after every game because you've thrown everything into it. You enjoy the victory. And when you come back Wednesday and I've given the players off a couple of days, they can enjoy it. It's kind of the reward for winning. But when you come back Wednesday, what you did doesn't mean a thing.

  • Our team has been pretty good about that. It's a veteran team that understands that, that there are games that have more significance than others but at the same time you can't take anybody lightly in this league. Where you are today, if you enjoy it too much, two or three weeks from now you'll say ‘What happened?' You see it happening in the league all the time, even as we speak. We knew coming in we'd be the game on a lot of people's schedule. That being the case, you can't go in there with any kind of letdown.

What was your perspective when you learned Redman would be out?

  •  Just Jeff Blake from the standpoint of what he's always done to us. Cincinnati was going through all the quarterbacks and they'd always stick Jeff Blake back in against us and it seemed like we always had a heck of a time defending him. He throws a good deep ball. He was more mobile than Redman. There was a quick understanding they had to come to about who the quarterback was. But any time you have a back-up quarterback, you're looking at that guy potentially coming in on any one play anyways. We didn't change anything dramatically, I think. We didn't call the game differently. I just think he's a veteran guy and he's seen our defenses for many years just from being in this division. His experience is the advantage he gave them over Chris Redman, who really hasn't played against us yet.

 Should you have learned about it earlier?

  •  I'm sure if they knew about it earlier they probably would have given Jeff more work during the week. It's just something to inquire about because it's the Ravens.

 Are they required to let you know if they find out about it Saturday?

  •  Yeah. You are. You guys kind of got on us a few years ago when Barry Foster got hurt on a Saturday night in Miami. This may have been before your time, I don't know. It's kind of nice to talk to you guys when I know I'm here before some of you guys. But we really got reprimanded for not informing the league that he had not worked out that night. I just know that's the procedure, particularly when you're talking about the high-profile positions. … I'm sure they were as surprised as anybody.

 How do you determine whether a player should be probable for the game?

  •  There's a lot of players sore. I don't have Tommy Maddox down here. You can say, ‘Gosh, he was charted off on a stretcher.' I mean, he's practicing tomorrow. Chris Redman practiced Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. And he wasn't on the injury list. I've got a lot of guys practicing tomorrow that aren't on this list. Most of the guys I put on here, the reason they're on there is because they're probably not going to practice and I don't want people questioning why they're not practicing. That's the basis I use. That's not the basis everyone else uses. If as guy can practice, to me, you know he's going to play.

 Is it tough to play the second half with a big lead?

  •  No. It's a nice problem to have. Look at their two touchdown drives. They converted two fourth downs. We've got to get off the field. Those are two situations that could've ended in zero points. They can talk about how they came back in the second half, and that's fine. They did. They beat us in the second half. But look at the game.

 What was the thought process when you went for it late instead of kicking the field goal?

  •  We were up 13. If you make a field goal, it's still a two-touchdown game. It was a two-touchdown game no matter what. In that situation, the field goal isn't going to create a better situation for you. And if you get the first down, it's over.

 Do you fear a block?

  •  Sure. Like I said, the three points didn't seem worth it. We shut down a lot of those third downs in the fourth quarter where Mike (Mularkey) was not allowed to throw the ball. And he called a great game. I mean, he's called a great – I mean, he has scripted the first halves, those first series, and he's got people on their heels. He's done a great job. At that point in the second half, I was not allowing him to throw the football.

 Are defenses defending Maddox differently as he gets more playing time?

  •  No. I don't think so. The other day they played a defense to take away the running game. They had 8 or 9 guys in the box. We threw the ball. That's going to be the thing. If people want to take away Plax and Hines (Ward) and start playing a little cover-two, then we have to be able to run the football. That's the dilemma you get into. You want to play a 3-deep defense and bring an eighth defender into the box; you'd like to think that now you can throw the football. That's a little bit of the chess match you have on first and second down. But I don't see it being much different. I think we've run the ball pretty effectively.

  • Once you can get up and get a lead, now you've got them on their heels. That's why at times, when they're going to defend the run, we still run it. We probably haven't been as effective. … We play the clock games. Right, wrong, at times we do.

How did Chukky Okobi play?

  •  He played very well. He played very well. Our offensive line played very well, and they've been playing well. I thought Chukky did an excellent job. He did very well. We'll get a good test this week if Jeff can't go, but it's very encouraging to see him step in and perform the way he did the other day.

 How has the turf performed at Heinz Field?

  •  When you play on grass fields in the north, the weather's going to be a factor. We're re-sodding it. We're going to do everything we can to make the footing as good as it can be. Some of it was the night time. We practiced right out here Saturday night and we had guys slipping because of the temperature and the moisture that develops at night time. The weather has a lot to do with it and I'm very comfortable that we're doing everything we need to do to make it as good as possible and that's certainly what we're looking to do.

 Have you considered an artificial surface?

  •  You'd have to look down the road. The game's always been played in mud and grass. Somehow that seems the way the game should be played. I'm an old-fashioned guy. It seems like it should be a very natural game played outside in the elements on the elements. As long as we're doing everything we can to make it as good as possible, given the weather, let's deal with it. Both teams are playing on it.

 Coach, how 'bout those special teams?

  •  Our kickoff coverage has been outstanding. I can't give them enough credit. Those last two weeks they have set the tempo. I've gone back. Look at the last three weeks. That kickoff coverage team has set a tempo. You talk about offense having confidence and defense having confidence, right now you can sense that with our coverage teams. There's a confidence that exists right now and they look forward to kicking off. And Todd (Peterson) did a good job. Todd's kicked the ball better the last couple weeks, even in practice I sensed him kicking the ball better.

  • We're doing some things different with the kickoff coverage. We've taken Chris Hope and Chidi and kind of let them try to be disruptors and everyone else is feeding off it. Mike Logan and John Fiala had great days the other day in our coverage teams. They're playing with a lot of energy. (There's been) the big kickoff return against Cincinnati; the blocked punt by Joey (Porter); the other day Antwaan (Randle El) gave us a big kickoff return – still waiting for that big punt return. There's a lot of confidence that exists right now. You don't see a lot of penalties. That's the biggest thing, too, with the return games. They've been very instrumental in our wins. That's been a big plus. Kevin Spencer's done an excellent job.

STEELERS PR: Any more questions?

 Coach, is there more trash talking today compared to when you played?

  •  I think the cameras are more prevalent now. Trash-talking's always been there. You've just got more angles and cameras. You've got more cameras on the sideline. There's more microphones on sidelines than there's ever been. Talking's always been there. Everybody's talking. It's an emotional game. You've got a helmet on. You can't tell what's being said or not being said. But nowadays there are some unbelievable angles and people are seeing things. There's so much exposure now. It's more than it's ever been.


--Jim Wexell











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