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|01-24-2009, 08:35 AM||#1|
A Son of Martha
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Steelers don't need a look at Cards' 'book'
Steelers don't need a look at Cards' 'book'
By Kevin Gorman
Friday, January 23, 2009
It might be a good book, but the Steelers aren't treating the one Ken Whisenhunt called plays from as if it's the Bible.
The Arizona Cardinals coach spent six seasons with the Steelers, including three as their offensive coordinator. So, Steelers coordinators Bruce Arians (offense) and Dick LeBeau (defense) are familiar with Whisenhunt's playbook and aware of his tendencies when calling a game.
Not that they believe it will matter much in Super Bowl XLIII.
"I think you can hand the playbook to the guys, and it wouldn't do them any good," Arians said. "I have all those playbooks. Coach LeBeau didn't ask for any of them. It's the guy and at the moment. You know they're going to have some things that break tendencies. It still comes down to the players. They're going to make the plays or not make the plays. We try to put them in position best we can, but it's still up to them."
Added LeBeau: "Oh, I've had Kenny's playbook for a long, long time."
LeBeau counts Whisenhunt among his good friends. The two matched wits in practice, as well as on the golf course, as they always played on opposite sides because they were evenly skilled. LeBeau admitted that he has "ambivalent" feelings about facing his friend-turned-foe.
"I think it's a wash," LeBeau said, "because anything that I would know about coach Whisenhunt, he would know about me - and vice versa. I think it's going to come down to how our players play. We'll be trying to get one-up on each other, just like we were on the golf course, but it's going to come down to how our players play. I know he'll have some good stuff for us."
Likewise, Arians worked with Cardinals defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast in 2003 when both were assistants with the Cleveland Browns.
Where his coordinators are familiar with their opponent, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is not as concerned about the Cardinals' playbook or tendencies as he is making sure his team is prepared to play.
"Playbooks won't make a play -- players will," Tomlin said. "I like to keep that in perspective in preparing for this game."
That Arizona has four former Steelers on its roster only adds to the intrigue of a game involving so many people with Pittsburgh ties.
Steelers-turned-Cardinals include third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre, special teams star Sean Morey, tight end/long snapper Jerame Tuman and linebacker Clark Haggans, who is on injured reserve.
Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith thinks it will add to the intensity.
"It'll be interesting," he said. "I told somebody, 'I've got a special (place in my) heart for those guys.' We all had good relationships when they were here. It's like playing your brothers in the backyard. Some of the most competitive times I've had in my life (were) when I was playing in the backyard with my brothers."
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (back) and backup running back Mewelde Moore (ankle) returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's workouts, as did running back Willie Parker, Smith and cornerback Deshea Townsend.
All three were excused from Wednesday's workout.
Linebacker Patrick Bailey (hamstring), center Justin Hartwig (knee), left tackle Max Starks (knee), linebacker Lawrence Timmons (illness) and wide receiver Hines Ward (knee) did not practice. Tomlin said Timmons picked up a cold from his child but was not concerned about Timmons' status.
For the Cardinals, running back J.J. Arrington (knee) did not practice for the second consecutive day. Defensive end Travis LaBoy (biceps) returned to practice after missing Wednesday but was limited in participation. The same goes for punter Ben Graham (groin) and defensive end Antonio Smith (knee).
Kevin Gorman can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7812.
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