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83-Steelers-43
12-29-2006, 08:48 AM
Steelers Notebook: Kickers, long snappers feel pain of Bengals' St. Louis
Friday, December 29, 2006

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The tightest, and likely smallest, fraternities in the National Football League belong to kickers and long-snappers. They have limited moments when they perform and only one chore to master. Some punters have a dual role as a holder for field goals and extra points.

That's why it is hard for Greg Warren to feel anything but empathy for Cincinnati long-snapper Brad St. Louis, whose errant snap on a failed extra point in Denver likely will keep the Bengals from making the playoffs.

The botched snap, with 41 seconds remaining Sunday, prevented the Bengals from forcing overtime in a 24-23 loss to the Broncos.

"I had somebody tell me, 'Don't feel bad for him,' but I got to," said Warren, the Steelers' long-snapper. "I could be in that situation. It's nothing you want to go through. I wouldn't want to see somebody go through it. That's the last thing you want to happen."

After the Bengals scored a touchdown to cut the Broncos' lead to 1, St. Louis delivered a high, wide snap that holder Kyle Larson was unable to catch. Even if he had, it is unlikely that kicker Shayne Graham would have been able to get the kick off in time.

"The hardest snap for a holder is reaching for it," said punter Chris Gardocki, who holds for kicker Jeff Reed. "Anything in your body you can adjust to. When you reach for it, then you got to get back and try to hold it ... even if he caught that ball, I don't think he could have gotten back in time."

"It's one of those things that, the snap happens so often, people start to forget that it could mess up," Warren said. "And when it does, they always look to point fingers and try to hold someone accountable. You know, we're not perfect. It can happen."

Warren has been fortunate. His only gaffe in two years with the Steelers came last season against Baltimore when he didn't hear the snap count on a punt and unknowingly snapped the ball into Sean Morey, who was standing behind him. Gardocki picked up the ball and threw an incomplete pass, but the botched play didn't cost the Steelers in a 20-19 victory.

Haggans out

Coach Bill Cowher said outside linebacker Clark Haggans (sprained knee), who did not practice for the second day in a row, will not play Sunday against the Bengals in Cincinnati. Haggans has been downgraded from doubtful to out on the injury report.

Haggans had a second-degree sprain of his medial collateral ligament against the Baltimore Ravens, the same type of injury that forced Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu to miss three games.

With Haggans out, linebacker James Harrison (shoulder/questionable) is expected to start on the left side. Harrison has practiced the past two days.

Also, backup linebacker Clint Kriewaldt (neck/probable), who did not play against the Ravens, practiced for the second day in a row and is expected to play in Cincinnati.

Mixed results for Porter

Even though he will play in two fewer games, outside linebacker Joey Porter will finish with more tackles than he did last season (61), when he was named to the Pro Bowl.

But unless he has a four-sack game against the Bengals, Porter will finish with fewer sacks than last season, when he led all NFL linebackers with 101/2. Porter has only seven sacks in 13 games, none in the past three. He had two-sack games against Miami, Oakland and Tampa Bay.

"I played to the level I set for myself every year I'm out there on the football field," Porter said. "Now, if the numbers don't come, they don't come. I'm going to go out there and play hard every time I'm on the football field. As far as stats go, it's tough to judge a person on how he played if the numbers aren't there. For what I'm asked to do, I did it hard, 110 percent every play. That's all I can do out there when I'm on the football field."

Bengals' injury update

None of the seven Bengals players listed as probable practiced yesterday, though all are expected to play: defensive tackle Sam Adams (illness), offensive tackles Willie Anderson (foot) and Levi Jones (knee), linebacker A.J. Nicholson (illness), defensive end Bryan Robinson (toe), offensive guard Eric Steinbach (illness), safety Madieu Williams (thigh).

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06363/749846-66.stm

83-Steelers-43
12-29-2006, 08:49 AM
Steelers notebook

By Rob Biertempfel
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, December 29, 2006


? Steelers offensive lineman Kendall Simmons has noticed some changes in the Bengals' defense since the teams last met. "They don't blitz as much as they used to," he said. "They're doing a better job of getting turnovers. Getting away from the blitz creates some opportunities for people to hang back and cover the passing lanes." The Steelers committed five turnovers, including three interceptions, in their 28-20 loss to the Bengals on Sept. 24.

? The mood in the Steelers' locker room was relaxed Thursday, as the players dressed for their penultimate practice of the season. "It's hard," cornerback Ike Taylor said. "Especially coming off the run we had to the Super Bowl (last year)." The Steelers reeled off eight straight wins at the end of last season. But if they stumble Sunday against Cincinnati, the Steelers will head into 2007 riding a two-game losing skid. "When you lose at the end of the season, you've got a long wait before you get that bad taste out of your mouth," tight end Heath Miller said.

? Linebacker Clark Haggans (knee) was downgraded to doubtful and will not play against Cincinnati.

? Most Steelers players have downplayed the satisfaction they'd get from spiking Cincinnati's playoff hopes. "We've got a game Sunday. That's all I can say," Taylor said, grinning. But don't think the rivalry has cooled. "I think the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game is bigger than the Cleveland-Cincinnati game now," Bengals wideout Chad Johnson said. "It's a good way to end the season, and hopefully we can end it right."

? Last week, there was talk of moving Sunday's game to a prime-time television broadcast. But those plans died along with the Steelers' playoff chances, and kickoff was kept at 1 p.m. "That's the way the NFL works," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "Hopefully, it will still be a good game and people will want to watch it."

Digits

148 - Career regular-season victories by Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

20 - Coaching victories by Cowher in 29 career regular-season games against the Bengals. He has beaten the Bengals more than any other NFL team.

4 - Wins, in seven games, by Cowher against Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_486188.html

BigDuke6
12-29-2006, 12:30 PM
Haggans to sit. I didnt think he looked right last week against Balt.