Friday's Notes

Steelers Coach Bill Cowher downgraded cornerback Chad Scott to doubtful Friday after he and inside linebacker Kendrell Bell missed practice for a third time this week.Cowher doesn't believe Scott will be able play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the NFL playoffs. His spot will be taken by Deshea Townsend, a fifth-year pro who has seven starts in his career and five interceptions, including three this season, or one more than Scott, the man he's replacing.

"He's fine," Cowher said of Townsend. "We've got a little bit of depth there and we feel good about him and Hank (Poteat), so we'll be ready to go."

Cowher said he's still holding out hope that Bell can recover from the ankle injury that knocked him out of last Sunday's game.

Bell aggravated the left ankle sprain which has nagged him all season and it's unlikely he'll play after missing the entire week of practice. If Bell can't play, rookie Larry Foote will make his fourth start of the season.

"I think he's come a long way," Cowher said. "A lot of the rookies, midway through, in talking to Antwaan (Randle El), at the Tennessee game they thought they hit the wall. It's almost like right now they can get a little rejuvenized. It makes you appreciate a guy like Kendall Simmons who hasn't really had a break."

"I think for Larry, he played a lot early, had a chance to sit back and watch Kendrell play. I think he learned a lot from watching that and I think he's looking forward to getting in here and playing. I think he was able to pick up a lot more after Kendrell came back. Now he's got a chance to apply what he was able to observe."

Foote's primary task would be stopping Browns rookie running back William Green, who's gained 726 yards rushing the last seven games.

Townsend's duties will expand from the dime, where he's been a key component the last four seasons. Because of that, and the Steelers' extensive use of the alignment over the years, Townsend doesn't believe his number of plays will increase very much.

"It can't be too many more," he said. "Hopefully there'll be a lot of three-and-outs and it won't be many more at all."

Townsend will remain at his inside cover spot in the dime defense, with Poteat, a three-year veteran, replacing Scott outside.

---Jim Wexell


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