<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> The last 11 fifth-round picks made by the Steelers lasted with the team as…
Bill Cowher Press Conference
Bill, last year, you played your starters more than a quarter. Is that a reflection of where you felt the team was then compared to this year?
Yeah, a lot of it will be relative to where I think they are. I think, as it relates to last year, we're a little farther along on the offensive side than we are the defensive. We'll see how it goes and substitute accordingly.
Will you play Clark Haggans a little more?
He's been practicing the past few weeks, so we'll see how it goes.
Will he start?
He will start.
Ike (Taylor) starts for Deshea?
How's he been doing?
He's fine. Ricardo (Colclough) and he both have had a lot of repetition, probably more than anybody. It's been good for them. There's a lot of things that have taken place that they can learn from and he's doing fine.
Would you feel comfortable playing those guys if something happened to Deshea or Chad in the regular season?
Yeah and Willie Williams is certainly a big asset. Willie Williams is a guy who hasn't had a lot of reps, but we've seen enough that we know what he is. He's a solid player. I think between those five guys, we feel very comfortable at that position.
What about Keydrick (Vincent) - We have a winner for the most asked question of the past two weeks?
He's been solid. Obviously he's not Kendall (Simmons), but he's a strong guy, he's smart and he works well with Oliver (Ross). I think the amount of time he had last year really helped his confidence. And confidence is such a big part of the game. The time that he spent at left guard last year when we moved Alan outside. He's been very solid. Like I said, you're not truly going to replace a Kendall Simmons. He was having a great camp. But Keydrick, of all the players, probably has the most experience of any backup that we have. He stepped in and we kept everything else intact and we haven't missed a beat the past couple of games.
Coach, you mentioned that talent at running back is a nice problem to have, how will you break up the carries Thursday?
We have to look at that. We haven't sat down and put anything concrete down. There's some guys we'd still like to see get some work. There's some other guys we're pretty sure we know what we have in them. We'll sit down and look at it. We really haven't put anything down concrete how we're going to handle that.
Coach, what have you seen from Todd Fordham and Barrett Brooks?
When you're looking at a back-up, versatility becomes a big part of it, particularly on game day. We've been notoriously a team that's kept seven linemen active on game day. Chukky (Okobi) is going to be one of those guys, backing up Jeff (Hartings). So you've got another player who's got to be able to play more than one position, so we've moved both Todd and Barrett around. We're fortunate that both those guys have played in different positions at some point in their careers. They played well. We'll continue to move them a little bit around this week as well. And Jim Jones is in the mix as well as a guard. He's not a tackle, but if Alan can't play we'll probably start with Jones. Those three guys, we've got to take a good hard look at. Barrett and Todd have both had good camps.
Tommy Maddox hasn't thrown very many passes this preseason. Is that a sign he's doing well?
When he's played he's played very well. I think he's been very sharp. I think he's engineered some drives and his decision making has been good, his accuracy's been good. I think he's where he needs to be. I'm very pleased with him. At the same time, when you end up losing a Charlie Batch, we've got to get that second quarterback as many reps as possible because he's one snap away. I think that has probably been more of a factor in how much we've played Ben (Roethlisberger) and Brian (St. Pierre) as much. We feel comfortable, and Tommy has played well, but when you look at the next quarterback in line we can't give him enough playing time at this point.
How much progress has Brian made from last year?
A lot. And fortunately, when Brian's come in, he's been handing off a lot and hasn't had to throw a lot of passes. But again, he's out there running the huddle and he ran the one-minute situation in Detroit. He's obviously so much more comfortable than he was last year. He's done a good job in being very consistent week in and week out, and we haven't really asked a whole lot from him at this point.
Some of last year's back-ups are very complimentary about the new defensive coordinator. Was that an issue last year?
Last year was last year. This year, coach (Dick) LeBeau is a good football coach. He's proven that. And I think his track record kind of speaks for itself. We're doing a lot of the same things but there are some different things we're doing as well, so that process is going to take time. But they're working at it. We've got some new faces over there that we're working with and I like the progress they're making. Coach LeBeau, it's nice to have him back and he's a good man to work with and he knows what he's doing. Like I said, he's been there before, understands this defense and right now he's getting a feel for the players. That's one thing about a coach coming in new. It's not so much what you know, it's getting a feel for what you're working with. I think he's gathering that as time goes on.
Was better communication what you expected when you brought him in?
You know what you're getting with coach LeBeau. I've worked with him before and I think there's no doubt about that. When you work with people, and have had success with people and you have an opportunity to bring him back here, it just worked out. We were really fortunate to have him there and him want to come back.
How has Matt Kranchick progressed?
He has gotten dramatically better with every game, even his blocking. There are still some things. At times you'd like to see him be more consistent. But you know you're getting a big guy who can stretch the field. He's caught the ball very well in games and made some plays. He's gotten a little better with each game, really a lot better with each game. He's dramatically improved from Day One.
In a pinch, could he play wide receiver too?
I don't know at this point. We're just trying to get him to play tight end.
Would it be too much for him to learn?
Oh, I think yeah, absolutely.
Coach, any thoughts about Deion Sanders coming back?
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