Notebook: Porter ready for action

PITTSBURGH – Joey Porter returned to practice Monday with the Steelers and all but pronounced himself the starter at right outside linebacker in Sunday's opener against the Tennessee Titans.

I felt good," said Porter, who missed all four preseason games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery early in camp.

"I ain't no metal so I don't get rusty," he said. "I might get tired, a little fatigued, but I ain't rusty."

Running back Duce Staley underwent knee surgery earlier than Porter, but didn't practice yesterday. He dressed and participated in light drills.

"I feel good. It's slowly but surely coming back," Staley said.

Staley probably won't play in Sunday's opener, but, like Porter, refused to discuss details that pertained to his injury. Both players referred such questions to coach Bill Cowher, as did Jerome Bettis, who missed practice with his calf injury.

"I feel pretty good, but other than that I'm going to have to defer to upstairs," Bettis said. "You'll have to talk to coach Cowher about that one, but I feel pretty good."

Did Cowher lay down the law about discussing injuries?

"You're going to have to talk to coach Cowher about that," Bettis repeated.

What can you do in practice?

"You're going to have to talk to coach Cowher about that one."

How about global warming?

"You're going to have to talk to coach Cowher about that one."

How about Notre Dame's win?

"I can't talk to you about that. No, that was HUGE," laughed Bettis, formerly of Notre Dame.

TO THE VICTOR GOES THE DEEP BALL

Antwaan Randle El will start at split end after having defeated challenger Cedrick Wilson at training camp. What, Randle El was asked, put him over the top?

"I think maybe it went back to mini-camp," he said. "My whole thing is to try and catch every ball and make a play, especially when the ball goes deep. It goes back to: Can you go deep?"

Randle El dismissed the team's reliance on short passes this preseason, saying it was just that, preseason.

"You'll see," he said of the deep ball. "We're going to get it going around here."

UNION MAN

With the release of Mike Schneck, the team's new player representative is Kimo von Oelhoffen, who was Schneck's assistant. What will von Oelhoffen bring to the job?

"More strength," he said. "I am not afraid to say what I feel. Some guys are."

PRACTICE SQUAD

The Steelers signed the following players to their practice squad: LB Andre Frazier, OG Jim Jones, DE Shaun Nua, LB Dedrick Roper, WR Chris Samp, DE Eric Taylor, FB Zach Tuiasosopo and WR Walter Young.

All were in camp with the Steelers, except Samp, who led Division II in receiving yards last year with 1,587 at Winona State. He also caught 78 passes and scored 22 touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 224-pounder is 25 years old and had been cut this off-season by Green Bay and Philadelphia.

NUMBER CHANGES

Rookie linebacker Rian Wallace will trade in No. 94 for No. 54 and rookie wide receiver Nate Washington will trade No. 14 for the No. 85 he wore at Tiffin.

Washington's reaction to making the team?

"I was dumbfounded. It was breathtaking," he said. "I knew I had a chance but in my situation you never really know. When they finally told me I was flabbergasted."

Washington was asked if he has any read on what role he'll fill with the Steelers.

"When they used two wides, (Sean Morey) would go in with the second group," he said. "When they went four wides, I was in the first group, but I really don't know the whole situation right now."


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