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Injuries zapping Steelers emotions at camp..Plus various injury updates!
Injuries zap emotions at camp
Friday, August 12, 2005
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Take Hines Ward, Joey Porter, Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis away from the Steelers' lineup, and that's a lot of missing production and firepower. It's also a drastic decline in noise.
Even coach Bill Cowher noticed how quiet it was during Wednesday night's goal-line drill at Latrobe Stadium, an event that historically produces a lot of verbal sparring between the offense and defense.
That's because the Steelers' biggest yappers -- Porter, Bettis, Staley and Ward -- did not take part.
"You take away Joey Porter, Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis, that's a lot of vocal chords really running," Cowher said yesterday at a news conference at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. "The intensity was still good, but you guys get accustomed to the jabbering. And we look for those guys to get that edge, to get it going. When they're not there, someone else has to pick it up."
Porter and Staley won't be there for a while because they're out for a month with knee injuries. And Ward is still holding out, waiting to get a contract extension. Bettis, though, was given the night off, and returned to practice yesterday.
Cowher always has been an advocate of vocal leaders -- also known as trash talkers -- so long as they back it up with production on the field. But he said he can't tell someone to all of a sudden become a talker on the field if it's out of their character.
"It will evolve," Cowher said "You can't manufacture those things."
For example, two of the Steelers' best defensive players -- inside linebacker James Farrior and safety Troy Polamalu, two Pro Bowlers -- rarely say anything on the field
"You can't ask someone to be more vocal," Farrior said. "It just happens that way."
But Farrior thinks he has a candidate to replace Porter's incessant jabbering.
"I got my money on [Larry] Foote right now," he said, referring to his inside linebacker partner. "Foote and Joey, they are the two biggest talkers on the team. Foote might have took over a little bit over Joey last year with all the plays he was making."
The Steelers welcomed one of their old wide receivers to training camp, but it wasn't Ward.
Chris Doering, who played here in 2003 before being released last season, was signed to a one-year contract and took part in the afternoon practice.
To make room on the roster, the Steelers placed veteran tight end Marco Battaglia on injured reserve.
"We needed a wide receiver," said director of football operations Kevin Colbert.
The Steelers are getting thin at the position. In addition to Ward, they are also without Antwaan Randle El, whose ankle was sprained Wednesday night. He will miss a couple of days. Also, receivers Lee Mays (hamstring) and Walter Young (hamstring) are injured and listed as day to day, though Young practiced in the afternoon.
"They called me and asked me to come back, and it took me about two seconds to say yes," Doering said. "This is my favorite place. I love it here. I love the fans and I love the organization."
Doering, an eight-year veteran, caught a career-high 18 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown in 2003, playing mostly as the fourth and fifth receiver.
"I've been trying to stay ready, but it's hard to push yourself when you're not getting a lot of positive feedback," Doering said. "I think everybody thinks I'm just a slow, skinny white dude."
In addition to Porter and Staley, the Steelers might be without defensive end Travis Kirschke for their preseason opener against Philadelphia Monday night at Heinz Field.
Also, cornerback Ricardo Colclough (hip flexor), who was injured Wednesday night, could miss a couple of days, Cowher said. Colclough did not practice yesterday.
Cornerback Deshea Townsend (Achilles' tendon) returned to practice and said he could play Monday night. Farrior (back) did not practice yesterday, but his injury is not believed to be serious.
A quarter for starters
Cowher said the starters could play as much as a quarter against the Eagles, though it is likely that will not include Bettis.
Bettis will start for Staley (knee), who is expected to miss the entire preseason after having arthroscopic surgery, but the Steelers will monitor how much time they give their 33-year-old running back.
"Jerome has run very well, as good as I've seen him run the last three or four years this early in camp," Cowher said.