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Old 08-15-2006, 09:20 PM   #1
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Default Cowher: One of our best practices

Cowher: One of our best practices
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

LATROBE, Pa. ? The goal of every NFL team at every training camp is to get to a place where it is ready for the start of the regular season. Coach Bill Cowher has made it clear on many occasions that he doesn't believe the Steelers are anywhere close to that destination, but at least Tuesday's afternoon practice was a step in the right direction.

"I thought it was a good practice, actually one of our best practices since we've been up here," said Cowher. "There was good hitting, it was very fast-paced. I liked it."

There hasn't been too much at this camp that has drawn unqualified praise from Cowher, and he didn't go there after Tuesday's practice either. But Cowher knows he has a team that hates to lose, and even though it was just the preseason opener, the Steelers' overall performance in Arizona wasn't good.

"We're not even thinking about breaking camp," said Cowher. "We still have a ways to go up here. The biggest thing is coming off the game we just played, getting ourselves ready for the next one, and it's getting closer to the regular season. You have to be able to take it up a notch.

"We've set very high standards, and we did not get off at the level where we expect to be. That being the case, we need to prepare with that same approach, knowing where we need to be."

As for highlights from the workout, near the top of the list would be a play made by Joey Porter. In his most extensive action since coming off the physically unable to perform list late last week, Porter was in coverage on Willie Parker when Charlie Batch scrambled out of the pocket.

Parker immediately took off deep down the sideline, and Batch laid the ball up for him. But Porter stuck with his man, tracked the football and made a leaping interception. It was an All-Pro type of play by a linebacker.

"He's doing more and more each day," said Cowher. "That's the biggest thing if you're going to get back and get confidence back in that leg."

The session ended with two repetitions of the one-minute drill, and the defense kept the offense out of the end zone both times.

One of the things that disappointed Cowher about the game against the Cardinals was the defense's performance on third downs. On Tuesday, going against Batch, the first-team defense didn't even allow a first down.

After a 6-yard pass to Nate Washington, Batch was sacked by James Harrison to set up a third-and-11. The offense got 4 yards on a pass to Santonio Holmes, but on fourth down, James Farrior stopped Verron Haynes short of the sticks to turn the ball over on downs.

Omar Jacobs was next up, and this was a possession extended by some creative officiating at a couple of crucial moments, but it all was in the interest of getting some young players some quality work. But the bottom line was the defense kept the offense out of the end zone again.

"They understand where we need to be, and the fact is we aren't there, and we're really not that close to being there," said Cowher. "But we took a step in the right direction today."

CAMP NOTES: Based on what Cowher had to say after practice, Duce Staley may be seeing more carries in the next couple of preseason games.

"Duce needs to play," said Cowher. "He needs to get some carries. The last couple of days, I've seen him look like he has a better feel. The guy hasn't run the ball, outside of that one game in Green Bay, for almost two years. It's something where he just needs to play, and he understands that. We need to get him more carries in this preseason, so he gets to where he needs to be."

INJURY UPDATE: Clark Haggans was excused from practice for personal reasons. He is expected to return to work on Wednesday. Isaac West may have aggravated his knee injury. Hines Ward (hamstring), Jerame Tuman (hamstring) and Chukky Okobi (neck) were the only three players not participating on Tuesday afternoon.

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Old 08-15-2006, 09:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: Cowher: One of our best practices

they're getting there...good news on Porter!!!!
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: Cowher: One of our best practices

It's just a matter of time before they start jelling again. I can hear the rust chipping off.
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