Staley's reaction?">
Staley's reaction?">

Steelers deflect interest in RBs

<b>LATROBE </b> - The Steelers rushed for 205 yards Saturday night, and just about every one of those yards was gained by someone other than big-ticket free-agent acquisition Duce Staley. He carried twice for five yards.<br><br> "He wasn't real happy about the rotation the other night," said Coach Bill Cowher.<br><br> Staley's reaction?

"Yeah," he said. "Everybody got a touchdown except me and the fullbacks."

Most coaches would call this a good problem to have. Cowher?

"These are nice problems to have," he said. "They really are."

The Steelers find themselves with an embarrassment of riches at a time when several other teams are having a difficult time finding healthy bodies to run the ball.

In fact, the Steelers' opponent Thursday night, the Philadelphia Eagles, have a dire need at running back. They recently signed 34-year-old Dorsey Levens to replace the injured Correll Buckhalter. Earlier in camp, the Eagles lost rookie draft pick Bruce Perry to an injury. In the off-season, they lost Staley to the Steelers.

Obviously, Staley, who rotated with two other backs last season, isn't feeling too bad about the Eagles' predicament.

"I don't want to talk about them. That's their problem," he said. "Every year you lose some good players. Unfortunately for them, they lost one of their good running backs. My prayers go out to him."

The Eagles aren't the only team looking for a running back.

"There are a few other teams that need them, too - the team we just played," Cowher said of the Houston Texans.

Texans back-up Tony Hollings, filling in for injured starter Domanick Davis, injured his ribs against the Steelers after gaining 9 yards on 14 carries.

The Miami Dolphins are also searching for running backs. The Miami Herald reported Monday that the Dolphins are looking at Verron Haynes and Dante Brown of the Steelers. Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' director of football operations, dismissed the trade talk with a laugh.

Haynes and Brown are the Steelers' third- and fourth-team tailbacks, respectively, and they are certainly good enough to draw interest. Against the Texans, Haynes carried 8 times for 31 yards, scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run and turned a short pass in the flat into a 21-yard gain.

"Verron ran hard and probably got better as the game went on," Cowher said. "He hasn't had a lot of carries, but I think you see him run harder, quicker and see things a little better the more he got into the game."

Brown gained 37 yards on 9 carries and is the team's rushing leader after two games with 78 yards on 17 carries (4.6 avg.). He was the Steelers' rushing leader last preseason as an undrafted rookie out of Memphis.

The Steelers' top rusher Saturday night was rookie Willie Parker, another undrafted free agent. Easily the Steelers' fastest running back, Parker carried 12 times for 71 yards and a 25-yard touchdown run.

Jerome Bettis gained 48 yards on 10 carries Saturday night, while Staley played only in the initial third-down package.

In two games, Bettis has 53 yards on 15 carries and Staley has 50 yards on 13 carries in what is becoming a very crowded backfield, one that will be watched closely by several teams in the coming weeks.

NOTES - The Steelers released defensive back Shane Walton and are "in the process of placing Kendall (Simmons) and Zamir Cobb on injured reserve," said Cowher. "If it doesn't get done (Monday) it'll probably be done (Tuesday)." Simmons suffered an ACL tear in his right knee last week in practice. Cobb, a rookie wide receiver from Temple, broke his ankle returning a punt Saturday night. Once Simmons and Cobb are placed on IR, the Steelers will have 84 players on their roster. With seven NFL Europe exemptions, they are allowed 87. They must cut down to 65 (72 if they keep their NFL Europe players) by Tuesday.

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