Q&A: Duce Staley

Bill Cowher downgraded Jerome Bettis to doubtful because of a quadriceps injury he sustained when he took a helmet to the thigh against Cincinnati. Cowher said Duce Staley will probably play for the first time this season. Here's Duce:

DUCE STALEY

So, you're playing?
Finally, right? It's been a long time. I actually had a chance to talk to coach earlier this week about the possibility of me getting out there and getting some playing time. I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited.

How do you feel?
I feel pretty good. I had a chance to run around this week, as I have the last couple weeks. Each week it gets better and that's all you can hope for.

Are you 100 percent?
Close to it.

With Ben out, is this a good game to run about 60 times?
I hope so, but I don't think the game plan will change. We'll stick to what we do and that is run the ball. Of course, we'll probably run it a little more with Ben out, but that's been our make-up this year and last year. That's been our make-up and nothing's going to change.

How will you fit in?
I have no idea how the rotation will go. I've got to get into the feel of the game. It's my first game since last year – no pre-season or any games. I've got to get back in and get my feet wet again.

Are you anxious?
I really didn't know what to expect. They tell you two or three weeks with my injury. I really didn't know during rehab. It was going back and forth. Some days it's feeling good; some days it's not feeling too good. So it was really a day-to-day process. It's been a long time coming. Each day lately has been pretty good so I look forward to capitalizing off that.

Didn't you suffer a meniscus tear, too?
Yeah. Actually I had a little more arthritis in my knee so that's why it took as long coming back. I had a little more surface damage. When you think you're coming back two or three weeks, in my situation, it took a little bit longer. The rehab was longer and getting the strength back in the knee was longer.

How difficult was it to sit?
It's still tough. You have to understand, we're all competitive. I'm definitely competitive. I want to get out there and compete and help my team win if I can. It goes both ways. If I had to sit down to help my team win, I would do the same. You saw that the last couple weeks. I still love playing the game; still want to play the game; still want to be productive. That's what it's all about.

Were you lobbying to play?
What really happened, and you guys can talk to Jerome about it, Jerome and I are such close friends, I got a chance to talk to him and I got a feeling this might be his last year. Jerome fell back from the injury he had but came back earlier than I did. I thought it was only right that I actually give up my playing time to him, let him play and let him go out with a bang. It makes me feel good to be in a position to do that.

How nice is it to get along with teammates like that?
A lot of teams have had the two, three-back rotation, but you never know how those guys get along. You heard stuff but you never knew what was actually going on. What's unique about our situation – with Jerome and I and Willie and Verron -- the relationship is genuine. If the relationship was not genuine, you couldn't go and do what we've done the last two years.

Have you lost weight the last couple weeks?
I don't know. Why? Does it look like I've lost weight? Do I look fit?

You look fit.
I can't waste away in this offense. I'd better try and put some on. Thank you, I'm going to go get me about four sandwiches right now.

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