By The Tribune-Review
Monday, August 28, 2006
Second-year cornerback Bryant McFadden didn't get the start at cornerback against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he did line up inside in the Steelers' nickel defensive package. That was a departure from last season, when McFadden was used on the outside in such situations. McFadden said he was used inside because of cornerback Deshea Townsend's injury. If Townsend remains sidelined, McFadden could start Thursday against Carolina. Ricardo Colclough started ahead of McFadden last week, but the two alternated every other series.
• Tackle Max Starks wasn't worried about breakdowns in the running game against the Eagles.
"We were working against a base defense, and they were bringing an all-out blitz package," Starks said. "When they're bringing more guys than we can put a hat on, that's when it gets tough."
If it were a regular season game, Starks said the Steelers would have been prepared for the Eagles' strategy.
• It didn't surprisecoach Bill Cowher when rookie third-round draft pick Anthony Smith flattened Eagles punt returner J. R. Reed, who had to be helped from the field after the jarring collision.
"I think he has the ability to be a good football player," Cowher said. "I really do. He's getting better every day." Smith will provide depth at free safety behind Tyrone Carter and Ryan Clark, who are vying for the starting job.
• Starks was impressed with guard Kendall Simmons' debut at center. Simmons took 13 snaps at center during three drives in the second quarter. Simmons was used in the hurry-up offense when the Steelers scored their only touchdown and had to make several snaps with quarterback Charlie Batch in the shotgun formation.
"He did a good job of communicating, and I didn't hear anything from the quarterback about any of his snaps," Starks said. "He looked pretty good out there."
• The Steelers have 85 players remaining on the roster, but that number must be reduced to 75 before 4 p.m. Tuesday. The 53-man roster must be set by Saturday, and eight players may be added to the practice squad the next day.