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Old 10-21-2006, 07:53 AM   #1
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Default Townsend sells Cowher on hamstring health

By Mike Prisuta
Saturday, October 21, 2006

Deshea Townsend accomplished the near-impossible last weekend.
He got Bill Cowher to reconsider.

The Steelers coach reported to Heinz Field for last Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs convinced Townsend, who had been listed as questionable because of a cranky hamstring, wouldn't be participating.

"My intentions were not to play him," Cowher said.

So sure was Cowher that Townsend would be unavailable that the Steelers had activated cornerback Jovon Johnson from their practice squad last Saturday.

And, to do that, they had to release quarterback Brian St. Pierre from the 53-man roster.

Townsend wound up making the roster move superfluous by convincing Cowher the hamstring would hold up well enough for Townsend to contribute as an extra defensive back in obvious passing situations.

To do so, Townsend needed neither magic tricks nor a hypnotist.

He simply performed to the best of his physical abilities in a pregame audition for Cowher and player development coordinator Ray Jackson and then spoke from the heart to Cowher.

"One thing he always says is, 'tell me the truth.' " Townsend said. "I told him."

Cowher responded by telling Townsend to suit up. It was a reflection of the relationship that exists between Cowher and his players and of the value of Townsend to the Steelers defense -- whether he's playing a starting or supporting role.

"That lets me know he can trust what I say," Townsend said. "He knows how I know my body and what I want to do for the team. It feels good for me for him to trust me like that.

"I would have hated to have told him I could play and then go out there on the first play and re-injure it. I'd have felt bad. But I made it through the whole game."

Townsend, in effect trading places with Bryant McFadden, who normally plays as the nickel back, contributed three tackles and two passes defensed.

Beyond that, Townsend freed up strong safety Troy Polamalu to continue playing his normal role, rather than having to worry about replacing Townsend as a slot cornerback in passing situations -- the position Townsend occupies on third downs when he starts.

"Bringing him back allowed us to put Troy back in his position," Cowher said.

Townsend also provided a solid presence to a secondary that wound up contributing seven of the Steelers' season-high 13 passes defensed and two of their season-high three interceptions.

"He's so smart," Cowher said of Townsend. "It's like having another coach out there. He has a great feel for the game."

Townsend, listed as probable this week for Sunday's game in Atlanta, isn't sure when his hamstring will allow him to resume more than a part-time role.

"I didn't want to feel like I wasn't out there for the rest of my DBs, for the rest of the team," Townsend said of the Chiefs game. "That's what we always talk about, sell out for the team."
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Old 10-21-2006, 08:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: Townsend sells Cowher on hamstring health

What a great attitude on Townsend's part! It's very cool to hear about that kind of trust in his relationship with Cowher too. Hope he continues to heal quickly.

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Old 10-21-2006, 08:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: Townsend sells Cowher on hamstring health

Anything and anyone that helps Troy do his thing is ok by me!! We are finally seeing these guys come together as a T-E-A-M!!

Hope he's not pushing that hammy, though. We already have 2 too many of those healing up.
"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 10-21-2006, 09:17 AM   #4
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Default Re: Townsend sells Cowher on hamstring health

Pretty interesting. I was surprised to see him on the field.

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