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Old 09-07-2005, 12:42 AM   #1
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Exclamation Cowher concerned about passing game

Bill Cowher has one concern about his team as it prepares to open the season Sunday and it's not his defense, not his running game, not his offensive line and not a surprise.

His passing game has looked like a duck and sounded like a duck, but Cowher can only hope it's really not a duck.

"Would I like to see us more in sync in the passing game? Yes," Cowher said yesterday. "And that's the one thing I would come out of the preseason saying I wish we would have done better. But we are where we are. That's really the only true element I am, if you want to use the word, concerned or worried about. That's it."

He has the cold, hard facts to back it up: Ben Roethlisberger completed only 44.4 percent of his passes, threw two interceptions and had a miserable 32.8 passer rating; the first-team offense didn't produce a touchdown in the preseason. The team's top three receivers caught 10 passes for only 91 yards and dropped at least half that many.

"We didn't throw the ball, I think, as efficiently as I'd like to see us throw it," Cowher said.

That might be a big reason the Steelers signed veteran receiver Quincy Morgan, cut by the Cowboys, yesterday afternoon after Cowher's news conference.

The stats say the Steelers didn't run efficiently either because they averaged only 3.4 yards per carry.

But with Duce Staley out, Jerome Bettis limited to nine carries before a calf injury early in the third game and Willie Parker being held out virtually for two games, Cowher said he wasn't worried about that part of the offense.

Parker, who averaged 10.2 yards per carry in the preseason, will start Sunday against Tennessee at Heinz Field.

"I'm not worried about the running game, at least from the preseason standpoint," Cowher said. "It doesn't mean we won't come in here and have a tough time running the ball. It's not because of the preseason, it's because Tennessee's pretty good and they may take that element away from us."

Cowher made it plain that if the Steelers have a tough time throwing, it won't be because of the Titans' defense as much as it will be because their passing offense is not performing.

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