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Old 10-28-2007, 06:36 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' McFadden stuck in a corner

Steelers' McFadden stuck in a corner
By John Harris
Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cornerback Bryant McFadden understands his Steelers' teammates need him playing in today's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. But McFadden also understands it's a long season, and four weeks might not be enough time to recover from the dreaded high ankle sprain.
"It's kind of a crazy injury," said McFadden, who went down Sept. 30 against Arizona. "Playing cornerback and being able to play against fast athletes, I need to have all my lateral movement to be able to do what I did before I hurt my ankle."

McFadden admits to being in a quandary that all football players face -- the desire to play versus the need to recover from injury.

"Only I know if I'm ready," he said.

As the Steelers' nickel back, McFadden's value is never greater than it is against a pass-happy attack like Cincinnati's. He's at least two inches taller and is more experienced than rookie William Gay, his replacement.
It's only logical that the Bengals, who feature explosive receivers Chad Johnson and T.J Houshmandzadeh, will attempt to identify and create mismatches against Gay, a fifth-round draft pick who's still learning the defense.

"The more guys you have in coverage, the better it is for the defense," McFadden said. "The way they throw the ball, you're going to need guys that can cover and make an impact."

Starting left cornerback Ike Taylor said the secondary will have its hands full covering Cincinnati's talented receivers.

"Other than Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne (with the Colts), you've got to put those two right up there," Taylor said.

The Steelers have invested considerable time and money in McFadden, a second-round draft pick in 2005 who has started a total of 10 games and tied for the team lead with three interceptions last season.

Gay was a late-round draft pick who wasn't expected to contribute right away. Because of McFadden's injury, he's been forced to grow up quickly.

"(The injury) feels a whole lot better, which is positive for me, letting me know I am making progress," said McFadden, who has 13 tackles and a fumble recovery in 2007 and also returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown against San Francisco. "But the trainers told me I have to be very, very patient. Sometimes I might think it's all the way where I need to be, and end up reinjuring myself. It's an injury where I have to be patient and not try to rush it.

"Playing cornerback, especially in our defense, we're man-to-man a whole lot. If I'm not 100 percent, I'm pretty much on an island. If I'm not able to move laterally and come out of my breaks and be quick to the point of attack, I'm going to end up hurting myself and hurting the team. You really have to understand the nature of the injury and the nature of the position. If I was playing defensive line or linebacker, it'd be a quicker recovery because I'm not asked to do too much in open space the way we play defense."
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