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Old 12-12-2006, 10:59 AM   #1
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Default Steelers rested, ready for Panthers

Steelers rested, ready for Panthers

By Scott Brown
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Steelers should be rested for a season-ending stretch that includes games at Carolina and Cincinnati and one against the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Eve at Heinz Field.

The Steelers visit Carolina on Sunday, and the game pits a pair of preseason Super Bowl favorites that find themselves at 6-7 and in must-win situations against one another.

Despite a four-day break the players received following a 27-7 win over the Browns, the Steelers still have some health issues.

All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu (knee) will likely miss Sunday's 1 p.m. game. Along with Polamalu, wide receiver Cedrick Wilson (ankle) and safety Mike Logan are listed as doubtful.

Wide receiver Hines Ward (knee) is questionable for the game, though following the Steelers' win last Thursday night the wide receiver sounded optimistic that he would play against the Panthers.

Starting free safety Ryan Clark (groin) is also listed as questionable on the Steelers' injury report.

One thing that isn't in question: the Steelers having to account for two Panthers in particular at Bank of America Stadium.

Steve Smith has caught 71 passes for 1,025 yards and is as feared as any wide receiver in the NFL. Defensive end Julius Peppers, meanwhile, leads the NFC with 11 sacks and is such a disruptive force that coach Bill Cowher indicated that he will be at least double-teamed when he is rushing the passer Sunday.

"They may have two of the best players at their position on their team when I talk about Steve Smith and Julius Peppers," Cowher said Monday at his weekly news conference.

The Panthers could be without starting quarterback Jake Delhomme, who missed Sunday's game because of an injured thumb on his throwing hand.

What is more encouraging for the Steelers' prospects of winning in Charlotte is they are probably playing their best football of the season.

They have won four of their last five games and have generally taken better care of the football than they did earlier in the season, particularly in losses to Cincinnati, Atlanta, Oakland and Denver.

"We're playing better, there's no question about it," said Cowher, whose team returns to practice today. "I look at the last three weeks, our coverage teams have been excellent. We have guys getting takeaways, we're getting key stops. The one game that sticks out is the (27-0 loss) at Baltimore. That got out of hand early and we could never catch up. I'd like to think we're playing better."

There isn't a lot of difference between last season and this one, Cowher said, even though the result in each may be vastly different.

The Steelers needed to win four games at the end of the 2005 regular season. They did that, and won four more on the way to capturing the franchise's fifth Super Bowl title.

The Steelers need to win their last four regular-season games this season to finish 9-7 and give themselves a chance to return to the playoffs.

"Going into last week's game, someone said we were 5-7 and what was the difference between the year before," Cowher said. "You're talking about two games difference. I can think of two or three games a year ago that we would have won. It didn't happen.

"We have an opportunity in front of us right now. We'll need help but we have to take care of business and those other things will take care of themselves."

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Old 12-12-2006, 06:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers rested, ready for Panthers

Steve Smith will definitely have an impact IF their quarterback can get him the ball consistantly. I expect the other Smith, on our team, to make some really big hits as well.
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Old 12-12-2006, 11:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers rested, ready for Panthers

Don't think BC doesn't know the google spreedsheet...The STEELERS chances...its on his fridge like it is mine...
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Old 12-13-2006, 02:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers rested, ready for Panthers

He doesn't care about the google spreadsheets. He just wants to get wins first.

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