Steelers Notebook: Ward finds humor in Cowher's picks
Friday, September 07, 2007
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Hines Ward said he found it amusing that former coach Bill Cowher is already in the prediction business.
"It's kind of funny how he was in here a year ago and next thing you know he's predicting us to finish third," Ward said.
Cowher, who will work this season as a studio an-alyst for CBS Sports, said the Steelers will finish third in the AFC North this season, behind Baltimore and Cincinnati. He made the prediction the other day on the NFL Network.
"I don't make anything of it," said Ward, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver. "He's just doing the media job. I don't know if he really believes it. To let him tell it, he'd probably say he's helping us out."
Mike Tomlin, who is replacing Cowher as head coach, said he doesn't care about predictions or who makes them.
"It's really kind of irrelevant," Tomlin said. "The only people who remember them are the ones who got them right."
It has been noticeably quiet on the South Side this week, and for good reason:
Unlike Cowher, Tomlin does not like to simulate crowd noise during practice to prepare his players for road games.
If he does pump-in crowd noise, Tomlin said he will do it on Fridays, when most of the teaching and game preparation is complete.
"We won't use it every day," Tomlin said. "There's too much instruction, and adjustments need to be made early in the week. If I need that tool, it will be added on a Friday."
Tomlin has vivid memories of Allen Rossum, his newest return specialist, even if his memory of Tampa Bay history is skewed.
He remembers in 2001 when Rossum, who was with the Green Bay Packers, returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown with three minutes remaining to give the Packers a 21-20 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tomlin and Rossum each said the return knocked the Buccaneers from the playoff race in the NFC. But the game was played Nov. 4, and Tampa Bay lost three more games after that to finish with a 9-7 record. The Buccaneers still made the playoffs.
"He kind of brought it up to me when I got here and I kind of chuckled," said Rossum, who has returned three punts and three kickoffs for touchdowns in his 10-year career.
Tomlin said he still hasn't determined if Rossum will return punts and kickoffs against the Browns, though it appears to be a foregone conclusion he will handle both duties.
"I don't presume anything," Rossum said.
There will be one change. After being given No. 29 when he reported Monday, Rossum has switched numbers and will wear No. 30 against the Browns.
Road sweet road
Jeff Reed does not like to complain about the surface at Heinz Field, but the numbers indicate he would much rather kick on the road than at home.
Reed has made 15 consecutive field goals on the road (18 in a row counting playoffs), dating to the 2005 season. He was 10 for 10 last season and has not missed a field goal on the road since he was wide with a 41-yard attempt Nov. 28, 2005, in Indianapolis.
In the past two seasons, Reed is 24 for 26 on the road in the regular season, 27 of 29 including playoffs. In that time, he is 20 of 30 at home.