Andy Russell has the locker next to Fuqua. "You'll play," he said. "Don't worry about it."
Russell has been with the Steelers for seven years. He makes up for his lack of size with exceptional intelligence and the ability to diagnose plays. Last year, against Cleveland, he overheard Quarterback Bill Nelsen warn Leroy Kelly to watch for a safety blitz. Russell's assignment on the play was to cover Kelly on a pass. Instead he blitzed himself, knowing Kelly would be staying in, and dumped Nelsen for a big loss.
"It's coming to the point where we feel we can win," Russell said. "We used to keep wondering when the other team was going to make the big play. Now we wonder when we will. And we're reacting more quickly. We're getting more comfortable in this defense and we move instinctively, without thinking. We no longer suffer from what Coach Noll calls the paralysis of analysis. Greene is a perfect example of that. He has the ability to make an instinctive, confident decision and act upon it immediately. That's why he's in their backfield all the time."
Russell stroked his mustache. "This team does not think of itself as a powerhouse," he said. "But we feel we have a real good chance to win our division. After that, we'll see."
Art Rooney is waiting.