View Full Version : Steelers cornerback battle takes a confusing turn

08-27-2006, 04:21 AM
In one of the more curious maneuvers of training camp, McFadden has gone from being the team's nickel back and a cornerback with starting potential to splitting time with Colclough, a former No. 2 draft choice in 2004 who hasn't been one of the six defensive backs in most of the team's dime defensive packages.

Colclough, not McFadden, started at right cornerback for the injured Townsend (broken thumb) Friday night in a 16-7 preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, a game in which the Eagles' only touchdown came when Colclough was beaten in single coverage for a 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

It was supposed to be a reward for Colclough, whom coach Bill Cowher and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau have praised for his performance in training camp. Nonetheless, the move appears to be something of a demotion for McFadden, a second-round draft choice last season who helped save the AFC playoff victory in Indianapolis with back-to-back pass breakups to wide receiver Reggie Wayne in the final seconds.

"Absolutely not," LeBeau said, standing in the visitors locker room after the Steelers' third consecutive defeat of the preseason. "His play in the Indianapolis game is the reason we're all smiling around Pittsburgh. If he doesn't get that ball out of there, the season has maybe a whole different slant to it at the end. We're not down on him at all."

But even McFadden said he thought the same thing last week when Cowher told him he would begin splitting time with Colclough, who has done little in two seasons with the Steelers.

Colclough got the start against the Eagles, then rotated every second series with McFadden. Cowher indicated the same rotation would probably exist for the preseason finale Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field, though McFadden likely will start if Townsend cannot play.

"Yes sir, it kind of is surprising," McFadden said. "I didn't ask any questions about their reason. Coach Cowher is an excellent coach. I'm not going to question him as far as anything he does. I'm behind him 100 percent if that's what he wants to do."

Asked if he were disappointed with the decision, McFadden said, "At first, it kind of took me ... I was kind of confused, like any other competitor would be.

"When he talked to me the last day of practice in Latrobe, he told me I'm doing everything, I'm having a real good camp, he liked the way I was preparing myself and practicing throughout the preseason and minicamp. He said it was something he wanted to look at and go with. It kind of gave me a better understanding, knowing that I wasn't messing up."

Nonetheless, the decision to elevate and expand Colclough's role remains mystifying, particularly after he was beaten badly on a deep slant by wide receiver Greg Lewis for a 61-yard touchdown. Colclough was waiting for Lewis to run another route and didn't have deep help on the play.

"It's one of the things you have to do as a player," LeBeau said. "You have to understand what's the top priority, the second priority and the third priority. You got to take away the first priority."

Colclough, though, has apparently been doing that in training camp, forcing Cowher to take a longer look at a player the Steelers traded up in the second round (38th overall) to obtain in 2004.

"I've been biding my time for the last two years," Colclough said. "Now it's time for me to go out there and seize the opportunity. It's unfortunate Deshea went down with a hand injury, but now it's time for me or Bryant to step up into that spot."

Now McFadden, a standout as a rookie, finds himself in a battle for a position he didn't anticipate.

"We want to give them both an equal opportunity," Cowher said.

"I kind of view those guys as equal," LeBeau said. "I'm looking for which one might stick his nose in front of the other."

08-27-2006, 08:55 AM
Personally, I don't see the confusion. Even though Cowher has been pimping Colclough for the last week, he looks horrible and hasn't shown me anything on the field.

Colclough gave up two receptions totaling +90 yards and a TD against the Eagles. Fans in the top sections of Lincoln Financial Field were closer to Lewis on that TD. I've also heard some say that Coke was expecting some help on the TD but if I recall correctly he was lined up shaded in, but got beat inside. In Cover 2, the CB shades out.

08-27-2006, 09:49 AM
If cowher wanted his look..he got it...and an ugly look it was....Im sure coach had his reasons for giving Coke his shot...but as everyone saw...it didnt work out real well....:cool: :cool:

08-27-2006, 10:46 AM
Competition is never bad. It will make Big Mac better and Coke closer to being off the roster come offseason. :)

08-27-2006, 10:39 PM
Competition is never bad. It will make Big Mac better and Coke closer to being off the roster come offseason. :)

Oh if only we're that lucky,......but it won't matter. Kevin Colbert will just go and draft another cat with "some" athletic upside and little else,..... from the "University Of Possum's Paw". LOL

"Hail Caesar,.......Hail the Black and Gold"