Notebook: Porter moves back to spot in dime

<b> PITTSBURGH - </b> James Farrior leads the Steelers in tackles, and performed well enough in the dime defense during Joey Porter's absence for the team to rank first in the AFC in pass defense. <br><br> However, Farrior's days as the Steelers' lone linebacker in the dime defense are over. Porter will move back to the position on a full-time basis Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Porter, of course, missed three games with a gunshot wound, but returned to the lineup last Sunday to play the Cincinnati Bengals. Porter was tentative in the first half, but by the end of the game, coaches felt, he was back to his old self.

"I wasn't even thinking about being tired," Porter said after the game. "It ended up costing us a timeout because I was out there when I wasn't supposed to be. They kept shuffling me in and out, and I'm used to being an every-down player and it kind of caught me off guard a little bit." Porter didn't take any snaps as the dime backer against the Bengals, but played in 37 snaps. He had a sack and two other tackles. He'll resume his full-time duties Sunday.

Kendrell Bell, who had two sacks as the rush end in the dime, will remain in that position in the dime.

Jerome Bettis wouldn't admit to being comfortable with the way he's being used in relief of starting tailback Amos Zereoue.

"But I'm understanding of it," Bettis said. "The biggest thing for me now is to stay sharp and stay loose during the game. I watch all the offensive plays and keep my head in what they're doing. When the defense is on the field, I'll go loosen up, run in place, things like that to stay ready because I don't want to go in there cold."

Bettis and the Steelers will find the running a little tougher this week against the Titans, who rank first in the NFL in run defense. They limited Deuce McAllister to 11 yards last week, but Bettis wasn't impressed.

"I don't know if New Orleans employs a power running game," Bettis said. "I think you've got to have some type of a power game because they're really fast and they're physical. Typically the teams that are able to have success running the ball against us are physical running attacks. I think you have to have a physical running attack in order to get after those guys.

"Look at Kansas City against us. They had a physical running game. They come right at you, so they had some success against us, but, as a whole, most teams won't be able to run the ball against us. I think it's the same way with them. If you have a physical attack and run right at them, you have a chance. But if you try to run around them, you don't have a chance. I don't know if New Orleans was as physical running the football."

Fullback Dan Kreider is coming off his most productive day as a pro. He carried a career-high three times for 13 yards and also caught two passes for seven yards. His best play, though, will be remembered for knocking teammate Hines Ward and three Bengals into the end zone from the one-yard line.

"The coaches just told me it was a good hustle play," Kreider said when asked whether it was a legal play. "A couple people told me that as long as there are a couple people on the player together, than you can push the pile, but if it's only one defender hanging on it might be illegal. I guess it's one thing to push the pile, but it's illegal to push the runner."

Kreider did both, but made no apologies, except to Ward after knocking the wind out of him.

Was it the fourth-year pro's best game?

"I touched the ball more than I had in awhile, but I think I've had better blocking games," Kreider said. "There were a couple plays I wish I had back."

Tommy Maddox came out of college for the NFL draft after his redshirt sophomore year, but he thinks Maurice Clarett, who's suing the NFL in order to come out next spring after only two years, should stay put.

"I'd hate to see him come out early," Maddox said. "I've always said that if I had to do it over again they'd have to kick me out of college. There's so much you don't know until you get here. Those college days are precious days and sometimes we're in a hurry to get through them."

Jim Wexell

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