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Steelers Steelers Report: 10/26/01

Friday, October 26, 2001

By Gerry Dulac, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

LOOKING AHEAD

Steelers (4-1) vs. Titans (2-3), 9 p.m. Monday, Heinz Field. TV: WTAE. Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970) and Steelers Radio Network.

NOTEBOOK

Wayne Gandy, who played most of last season with a torn rotator in his right shoulder, appeared to re-injure the same shoulder yesterday when he lay face down on the field at the Steelers' indoor practice facility. Gandy had to be helped from the field by team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jim Bradley and did not return.

Afterward, Coach Bill Cowher said Gandy, the starting left tackle, did not sustain any serious injury to the shoulder and should resume practicing today. Cowher said he might add Gandy to the team's injury report, in accordance with league rules, but would list him as probable for Monday night's game against the Tennessee Titans if he did.

"He got hit on the elbow and it kind of jammed his shoulder," Cowher said. "He looks like he will be OK."

Gandy had surgery in the off-season to repair a torn rotator that also affected his neck and trapezius muscles. Despite the injury, Gandy started all 16 games last season and played so well his teammates thought he should have been selected to the Pro Bowl.

WR Hines Ward (ankle), who is listed as probable, did not take part in team drills for the second day in a row. Ward, though, worked some in 7-on-7 individual drills.

Cowher said he is hoping Ward, the AFC's sixth-leading receiver with 31 catches, will be able to practice today.

Also, backup CB Jason Simmons (hamstring) did not practice for the second day in a row. Simmons is listed as questionable.

The defense blamed itself for both losses to Tennessee last season because it failed to prevent the Titans from scoring the winning points on their final possession in each game.

In the 23-20 defeat at Three Rivers Stadium, QB Steve McNair came off the bench when Neil O'Donnell was injured and threw an 18-yard scoring pass to TE Erron Kinney with 1:31 remaining.

A month later, the Steelers let McNair convert a 17-yard pass to WR Derrick Mason on fourth-and-8 to set up Al Del Greco's 29-yard field goal with four seconds remaining in a 9-7 victory. Cowher, though, took responsibility for the defeat because he -- not defensive coordinator Tim Lewis -- called the defense that left Mason in single coverage on fourth down, even though Mason had caught three consecutive passes on that series. What's more, because of injuries, the Titans did not have another receiver on the field who had caught an NFL pass.

The Steelers, who finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs by one game, pointed to the Tennessee losses as one of the reasons they missed the playoffs for the third year in a row.

"We not only let our teammates down, we let the coaches down and we let the city down," S Lee Flowers said. "We had a good game plan and we stuck with it till the last couple of minutes.

"That call wasn't the coach's fault. They don't take the credit for a call when we get an interception and return it for a touchdown. We got to know the situations and do whatever it takes to get off the field. The way we've been playing lately, letting teams come back, we can't let that happen this week."

Vice president Art Rooney II said the new Heinz Field sign that will cover the back of the scoreboard and face the city should be in place for Monday night's game.

Smaller signs above Gates B and C are already in place.

When Cowher was asked the other day about the giant ketchup bottles above the scoreboard -- designed to pump red "ketchup" into the scoreboard when the team gets into the red zone -- he said he knew nothing about them.

That has all changed. Cowher became curious about the bottles so he asked team owner Dan Rooney the next time he saw him. Rooney explained the promotional concept to him.

"I know what they are now," Cowher said.

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