Busy weekend for Steelers

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> Antwaan Randle El stepped back into the quarterback picture Monday without even trying.<br><br> The third-year wide receiver became the Steelers' emergency quarterback on Labor Day after the team released Brian St. Pierre.

The Steelers cut the second-year quarterback from Boston College to make room for wide receiver Sean Morey, who was cut Sunday by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Morey (5-11, 200) hasn't caught a pass in two NFL seasons, but was the Eagles' special teams MVP last season by making 28 tackles, second on the team. Morey also returned seven kickoffs for an average of 13.3 yards per return.

The release of St. Pierre wasn't the only surprising move made by the Steelers this weekend. On Sunday, they traded back-up offensive tackle Todd Fordham to the Carolina Panthers for a draft pick.

Terms of the future pick were not released. Coach Bill Cowher explained the move.

"You look at the makeup of the offensive line and we felt very good about Max Starks and his development at the right tackle position," Cowher said. "You looked at where we were at left tackle, and we considered the overall camp that Barrett Brooks had. And then you had to look at Jim Jones as a guy who has played both guard spots. It came down to Barrett Brooks and Todd Fordham, and we felt like the left side was more of a concern than the right side at this time."

Fordham was one of 11 players let go on Sunday.

On Saturday, the Steelers released quarterback Kurt Kittner, punter Mike Barr, defensive tackle Grant Bowman, cornerback Nashville Dyer, center Jimond Pugh and wide receivers Glenn Martinez and Huey Whittaker.

On Sunday, they traded Fordham and released the following players: linebacker Adrian Ross, nose tackle Kendrick Clancy, running back Dante Brown, safety Russell Stuvaints, kicker Rob Bironas, fullback J.T. Wall, long-snapper Drew Caylor, offensive tackle Bo Lacy, linebacker Dedrick Roper and defensive end Eric Taylor.

On Monday, the Steelers re-signed these five players to their practice squad: Lacy, Caylor, Taylor, Brown and Bowman. They also signed wide receivers Andrae Thurman and Walter Young.

Thurman was in camp with the Houston Texans. He'd been signed after the draft by the New York Giants before being released and signed by the Texans in July.

In college, Thurman (5-11, 192) made 10 starts at Arizona in 2002 and had 61 receptions for 915 yards. He transferred to Southern Oregon and caught 55 passes for 845 yards in 2003.

Young (6-4, 220) was a seventh-round draft pick by the Panthers out of Illinois in 2003. He led the Panthers that preseason with 10 receptions for 159 yards, and appeared in seven games without making a catch. A wrist injury forced him to injured reserve.

Morey was also a seventh-round draft pick. The Patriots took him out of Brown in the 1999 draft and he played two games that season. His only action since has been the 16 games in which he appeared last season with the Eagles.

At a Sunday press conference, Cowher talked about a couple of rookies.

On tight end Matt Kranchick from Penn State, Cowher said: "You see what Matt Kranchick has done though this whole camp and what we feel like he can become, and even though we don't know if he's ready to do that now those were some of the things you have to look at when you make up a 53-man roster. It's not just where you are, but you also have to look down the road some."

On undrafted rookie running back Willie Parker: "He's got very unique speed. He's got excellent hands. He had no problem picking up the offense, and we were even able to play him on third downs some. He's got a lot of very unique qualities that are intriguing, and the opportunities he had - even though a lot of it was late in games - he made the most of it. It's rare to find a big, tough guy like he is who can catch and can run like he can, with the speed that he has."

The Steelers can sign one more player to the newly expanded eight-man practice squad.

They began preparations yesterday for their opener Sunday against the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field. Today is an off day. Practice will resume Wednesday.

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