Batch, Dolphins' Taylor meet again
Steelers Notebook: Batch, Dolphins' Taylor meet again
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Charlie Batch might feel right at home Thursday night in Heinz Field, but not if fellow Homestead native Jason Taylor can help it.
Taylor and Batch attended Homestead's Barrett Elementary School together before they went their separate ways in high school -- Taylor to Woodland Hills, where he was home-schooled by his parents, and Batch to Steel Valley.
They played basketball in the summers against each other and twice appeared on a football field together. Thursday, they will square off in Heinz Field and one of Taylor's jobs as a Dolphins defensive end will be to bring Batch down.
Taylor does that almost as well as anyone in the league. He has 92 1/2 career sacks since he entered the NFL in 1997. His 76 sacks are the second-most in the league since 2000. One of those was on Batch Nov. 5, 2000 when the Dolphins won in Detroit, 23-8. It was the only time they have met on a pro field.
They also played once in college when Batch attended Eastern Michigan and Taylor was an Akron Zip.
"We've known each other for a long time," Batch said. "We've been fortunate enough to do this for a long time."
Dolphins the choice
Sports Illustrated picked the Dolphins to beat the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs on their way to the Super Bowl.
"We're not really concerned about predictions and what people are saying about us outside of our locker room," Miami quarterback Daunte Culpepper said. "We really are more concerned about the mind-set of our players and what each player has to do for us to play winning football."
The Bus waffles
Jerome Bettis was known for his consistency on and off the field in his 10 seasons with the Steelers. But he issued two different opinions last week on one of the favorite topics in these parts: Can the Steelers repeat as Super Bowl champs?
Here's what he told the Post-Gazette last week: "It's going to be very, very difficult for them to repeat. They've got their hands full."
Bettis painted a rosier picture in a column he wrote in the current Steelers Digest: "Looking at this Steelers team, I give them about a 70 percent chance of repeating, pretty high in this age of parity in the NFL."
When Bettis comes to town with NBC-TV for Thursday's opener, "He's getting no inside information from me," coach Bill Cowher declared.
Cowher expressed his disappointment in Bettis last month when his former player said he thought his old coach would retire after the season, an opinion many others have expressed.
Bettis said on a conference call Wednesday that he thought the Steelers were not as strong at halfback as they were last season, when he was their top backup.
It proved to be prophetic in one way; two days later, the Steelers traded for a halfback from the New England Patriots, Patrick Cobbs. They also put in a waiver claim for running back Artose Pinner when he was released by Detroit over the weekend, but he was awarded on another waiver claim to Minnesota.
Ward making progress
Hines Ward practiced for the second consecutive day with no apparent problems to his injured right hamstring that kept him out of every preseason game.
"It's still there, not all the way, but it's coming," Ward said.
"You know I'm not missing this game. Yes, I will be playing."
Said Cowher, "He's making good progress."
Not so for tight end Jerame Tuman, listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. He did not practice again.
"He's not making quite as good [prgress]," Cowher said.
Chukky Okobi (knee), the third player Cowher listed as questionable Saturday, returned to practice after missing Sunday.
The Steelers released running back John Kuhn to make room for quarterback Brian St. Pierre on the practice squad. A player will have to be released from the 53-man roster to make room for either St. Pierre or Omar Jacobs to back up Batch Thursday. ... There is not a true fullback on the roster or practice squad behind starter Dan Kreider. Cowher said halfback Verron Haynes would take over if need be. ... Cowher designated Ricardo Colclough and rookie Santonio Holmes as his kickoff returners. ... St. Pierre will wear his old No. 2 if he's put on the 53-man roster. Tight end Tim Euhus will wear No. 87 and running back Patrick Cobbs No. 40. ... Cowher said Ben Roethlisberger was released from a hospital yesterday, one day after having an appendectomy, and is eating, walking around and doing fine.