Running game clicks with Duce

Was Bill Cowher sandbagging the media in training camp with all of his talk about a running back rotation? <br><br> Quite possibly. <br><br> Not only did Cowher start Duce Staley, the Steelers ran Staley nine times on their opening drive in Saturday night's 27-21 preseason loss at Detroit. That's a commitment to the running game, folks.

"I liked the establishment of what we're trying to do with the running game," said Cowher. "It starts up front. It was good to see the line coming on the ball. I thought the first unit, there was a lot of good things that were done."

On the downside, that ninth carry was a fumble that was batted through the end zone for a touchback. Duce hasn't been known as a fumbler, though, so it's not a big concern.

Staley's final numbers in two series: 11 carries for 45 yards.

That'll do.

Jerome Bettis, on the other hand, looked slow hitting the hole and just doesn't look like he can get it done any longer. He had five yards on five carries in a very lackluster effort.

That said, Cowher said he may go with Bettis as the starter next week.

"There was no one reason," Cowher said of his reason for starting Staley instead of Bettis, who was listed as No. 1 on the team's depth chart. "We'll probably start Jerome next week. We'll see."
  • Both Tommy Maddox and Ben Roethlisberger looked sharp throwing the ball. Maddox completed 4-of-5 passes for 52 yards, while Roethlisberger was 8 for 13 for 84 yards and a nice touchdown pass to Antwaan Randle El.

    Roethlisberger was especially effective avoiding the pass rush, something we were all waiting to see. On one occasion, he sidestepped a defensive end, leaving him grasping for air. Roethlisberger has all of the tools to be a great one.

  • It's tough to really look too hard at Brian St. Pierre's night since he spent a good deal of it on his back.

    The third-team offensive line, led by rookie right tackle Max Starks, was awful. Anyone who had any hopes of Starks playing at some point this season should seriously re-think that position.

    Starks was beaten several times on speed rushes to the outside and on another occasion came out of his stance on a running play and stood straight up as if he thought he was pass blocking again.

    Starks' man consistently got pressure on the quarterback and he wasn't playing against first-teamers, folks.

  • Brett Keisel was especially impressive getting after the passer. He'll step into Rodney Harrison's role as the third defensive end quite nicely, with Travis Kirschke also figuring into the mix.

  • How about that 29-yard catch by Zamir Cobb on fourth down as he was getting hit coming across the middle? He can play and should make this team, though I'm not sure at this point who goes.

  • As Cowher alluded to, the first team offensive line was excellent. Kendall Simmons pulled a couple of times and really blew open some holes. If they can stay healthy, the Steelers' offense will be hard to stop.

  • Dante Brown fumbled his first carry, but rebounded to run the ball well, getting 41 yards on eight carries. I'd still like to see him earlier in a game, however, to see what he'd do against some first or second-team players.

  • If nothing else, Ricardo Colcough showed he can help out this season as a return man. Colclough was this close to breaking a return on at least three occasions.

    That said, Antwaan Randle El is still the top punt returner on this team.

  • I thought Colclough was better in coverage than Ike Taylor. It's just an initial thought, though.

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