BEREA, Ohio—Eric Mangini won’t come out and say it, but it looks more and more like Colt McCoy will make his NFL debut in Pittsburgh this Sunday, although he said he’s still holding out hope that Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace might be available.
“That’s the way I’m leaning if Jake and Seneca aren’t available, but I want to see how things progress,” Mangini said. “I have confidence in him and he will get the majority of the reps.”
Delhomme and Wallace did not practice Wednesday, and the only thing he said about the pair was that they were walking a little better each day.
With that being said, McCoy looks as though he will get the call. Mike Holmgren said before the season that he hopes McCoy would be red-shirted this season. Mangini was asked the same question and he didn’t rule it out at the time.
“That’s why you never, say never,” Mangini said. “It’s the same things with guys on the roster, because you just don’t know.”
Mangini said that McCoy has improved just being around and practicing every day.
“The general operation because he’s a lot more comfortable in the reads and how to manage the offense,” Mangini said. “With each week that goes on, there’s more a sense of belonging and being around good mentors. Jake and Seneca are good mentors.”
McCoy said he expects to be prepared.
“Coach Mangini said I’m going to get most of the reps in practice this week,” McCoy said. “It’s going to be a big transition, a big change.
“But, the first five or six weeks I prepared like I was going to be the starter,” he said. “I’ll continue to do that and I understand what we’re trying to do as I’ve been in those meetings.”
After red shirting his freshman year at Texas, McCoy was the undisputed of the Longhorns the past four seasons when he led Texas to more victories than any quarterback in college history.
“I’m excited to be out there with my teammates,” he said. “I’m back in the huddle calling plays. I’ve been third string and I know this is not where we want to be as I was told I was going to watch and learn (this year).”
McCoy’s last action was in the preseason when he finished 13-of-13 for 131 yards against the Bears, primarily against third and fourth string players.
“Obviously, that was good anytime you complete all your passes, that is good,” McCoy said. “I don’t want to talk about the past. I have a lot of confident going into Pittsburgh. They have tremendous players. They’re all good and I have all the respect in the world for those guys.”
Mangini said that McCoy has made strides.
“It was good he was 13-of-13 and you want to see strides,” Mangini said. “He really has a chance to show those strides this week.
“Colt has played a lot of football games and if he gets a chance I feel he’ll be successful.”
McCoy says he’s not overwhelmed with what’s before him.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for me,” he said. “I just want to go out and play.
“I’m just one person going out there and I’m just thinking about what I need to do,” Obviously, it’s Pittsburgh and the odds are stacked against us.”
Mangini said that the offense won’t be scaled down for McCoy.
“I don’t see it scaled down, but when Jake is in he has his call sheet,” he said. “When Seneca is in he has his call sheet. When Colt is in he has his call sheet. When a player goes in, you want to use the things he is good at.”
Mangini was asked about the possibility of starting Ratliff over McCoy as Ratliff has been in the NFL three years, even though he’s never played a down in the regular season.
“I’m not ruling that out because Brett does have a lot of few reps with the ones and the offense, in general,” Mangini said. “Both are facing some challenges in lack of game experience. Ratliff has built up reps over a period of time and Colt in a more condensed time frame.”
Mangini feels Ratliff will be able to pick up the offense very quickly.
He’s very bright and there’s a lot of recall there,” he said. “He was with New England and there is a lot of carry over. As soon as he signed, he was in the meetings.”
Ratliff said he feels very comfortable with the offense.
“I’m ready to do my part,” Ratliff said. “I will be prepared.”
Ben’s Advice to Colt: QB Ben Roethlisberger offered his opinion about McCoy starting his first NFL game.
“Coming to Heinz Field is going to be a big challenge for him,” Roethlisberger said. “I think he’s going to get a taste really quick of what the AFC North and the Pittsburgh and Cleveland rivalry is all about.”
He was asked in his conference call what advice he would give to McCoy.
“It’s always tough when you go on the road,” he said. “The thing I would say to him is be patient and let the game come to him.”
Big Ben Ready: Roethlisberger makes his season debut against the Browns after serving a four game league suspension. Mangini expects Roethlisberger to play at a high level.
“With Ben coming back, he’s going to play at a high level,” he said. “He always plays at a high level. He’s had another week to get back in the flow of things and he’s a really good player.”
The Browns have had success in putting pressure on Roethlisberger in recent games.
“They get a lot of pressure and they pride themselves in causing chaos out there,” Roethlisberger said.
Injury Update: Many of the usual characters missed practice Wednesday, but Mangini said the ‘bulk’ of them he expected to practice prior to the end of the week.
Besides the two quarterbacks, DB Nick Sorenson (calf), DL Robaire Smith (back), DL Kenyon Coleman (knee), DL Shaun Rogers (hip, ankle), OL Alex Mack, RB Peyton Hillis (quad) didn’t practice Wednesday.
“I expect Peyton to practice this week, maybe Thursday,” he said.
Regarding Rogers, who has missed Wednesday practices all year, Mangini said he feels he’s progressing.
“It’s definitely a positive that he’ll play more,” Mangini said. “We have had to limit him and we haven’t been able to build in the flexibility to play end. As we build weeks, he can be playing more.”
Tomlin on Troy: Mike Tomlin was asked in the press conference about safety Troy Polamalu. He summed it up in two words.