Staley one of finishing touches

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Duce Staley may have finished fourth in preseason rushing for the Steelers, but Staley is No. 1 on the depth chart.<br><br> Coach Bill Cowher announced, among other moves yesterday, that Staley will start at halfback Sunday at Heinz Field in the opener against the Oakland Raiders.

The free-agent acquisition rushed for 87 yards on 20 preseason carries (4.4 average per carry), but he was named the starter over incumbent Jerome Bettis.

"Jerome will be active on game day," Cowher said. "There's no real set plan going in to how they will be used from the standpoint of anything predetermined, and we'll just have to go with that. Hopefully we'll need them both at some point during the season, but that's how we're going into the season."

Rookie Willie Parker led the Steelers this preseason with 202 yards on 46 carries (4.4), and the undrafted free agent from the University of North Carolina made the team. Cowher called Parker the surprise of camp.

The team's No. 2 preseason rusher, Dante Brown (27-120, 4.4), is on the practice squad. Bettis was third with 88 yards on 26 carries (3.4). Cowher talked to him before making the announcement yesterday.

"I will say this, it's probably the best he's looked in the last three years in camp, in terms of his feet," Cowher said of Bettis. "Last year he was still coming off the surgery. His weight's been good the last couple years. I think he was probably somewhat disappointed but understood. I think he was very much aware of the parameters going in and I think they both had an equal opportunity to run in the preseason and a decision was made based on that and now we're moving on. He's got a lot of respect for Duce, as Duce does for Jerome. I think it's a healthy situation and hopefully we'll be able to get them both involved."

Cowher also said Verron Haynes (16-67, 4.2) would be worked into the halfback rotation, mainly on third down, in order to "have both those guys fresh through the course of a whole season."

The Steelers have twice as many halfbacks as quarterbacks following the release of Brian St. Pierre on Monday. Cowher said wide receiver Antwaan Randle El will be given an emergency package with which to prepare as a quarterback during the week. Cowher also said he wasn't looking to release St. Pierre before he looked over the rest of the league's cuts.

"When we saw Sean Morey on the wire, I mean, here's a guy who was the MVP of their special teams and it wasn't just any special teams. They were ranked second or first in the NFL last year," Cowher said of the Philadelphia Eagles. "He's a very, very special player from that standpoint, and to find a way to get him on the roster without it being disrupting, it was the move we made. Is it a little bit of a roll of the dice? Yeah, it is. But we're going to go in and Ben (Roethlisberger)'s going to back up Tommy (Maddox). We feel good about Brian and the progress he's made and we'll see where we are as of four o'clock today, but we will have a quarterback on the practice squad and hopefully it will be Brian. If not, then we've got to get another guy trained quickly."

The Steelers had not announced any such move as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Cowher also announced during his press conference that Ricardo Colclough has replaced Ike Taylor as the fifth defensive back in the nickel and dime defenses and that Willie Williams has replaced Taylor as the sixth defensive back in the dime defense.

Cowher was asked if Taylor had played poorly in the fourth preseason game, and Cowher would only say that "we felt this was the best way to go."

Colclough will also return kickoffs along with Randle El, who'll also return punts.

The only player listed as questionable for the Steelers this week is inside linebacker Kendrell Bell, who remains bothered by a left shoulder injury.

"He's questionable really (Tuesday) based on the fact we practiced Monday and we didn't hit anybody," Cowher said. "We'll put the pads on Wednesday and hopefully he'll get through that and he'll be ready to play on Sunday."

Right cornerback Deshea Townsend (groin) and back-up safety Ainsley Battles (ankle) are probable for the game.

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