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Cowher: 'I like their resiliency'

Bill Cowher laughed when he was reminded about the comment he made when the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger back in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.

"This kid has a lot of upside," said Cowher at the time.

Standing outside the library at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, just having wrapped up an interview with Roethlisberger for NFL on CBS's coverage of the Steelers Divisional Round Game against the Jaguars, Cowher talked about the change in Roethlisberger since the day he made that statement.

"This is clearly his team. He understands that," said Cowher. "He accepts the responsibility that goes with it. You can how he relates to the players, the young players. He has grown as a player, as a person. He came in as a young kid and is now a father of three. That is what is nice to see, a young player who turned into a great player and matured along the way."

Maturity is something that Cowher likes about this Steelers team in general. Yes, there is youth, but the way the veterans have brought the young players into the mix is the key.

"It's a unique blend of veterans with youth," said Cowher. "You see the energetic youthfulness of JuJu Smith-Schuster and the veteran leadership of Ben. Antonio Brown understanding what it takes. A veteran offensive line that has been pretty healthy all year long. There is a youthful energy, but veteran wisdom that has been a good blend for the team.

"That has helped them in a lot of areas. I like their resiliency. They have been seasoned, hardened to a degree with the ebb and flow they have been through. There have been some highs and lows, but they are a seasoned group playing with confidence."

The addition of Joe Haden to the defense is something Cowher said had a definite impact, and again, it's that combination of veterans and youth that stands out.

"He gives you experience," said Cowher. "You have a lot of young corners, in Artie Burns and Mike Hilton, and you bring experience at a position that is critical. It's like with Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis. There are veterans and youth mixed in. Cam Heyward is stabilizing the front seven, with young guys like T.J. Watt and Stephon Tuitt.

"You see a defense that is fast. They play fast, they have been productive."  

There is one area, though, that it's all about the veterans. And that is the fans. Cowher is well aware of the home field advantage Steelers Nation provides at Heinz Field, and knows Sunday will be no different.

"It's pretty special," said Cowher. "You start to feel it as the week goes on. Everyone is wearing their black and gold. You walk into the stadium and the Terrible Towels are waving. You draw energy from it. It's a special place to play, a special city to play in."

He then turned and looked back at the library, where the team's six Lombardi Trophies are proudly displayed.

"That is why I see the six trophies and hopefully soon it will be seven," said Cowher.

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