Staley set to step in

PITTSBURGH – Jerome Bettis was downgraded to doubtful yesterday because of a two-week old quadriceps injury, so Duce Staley expects to take his place in the rotation and make his first carry of the season Sunday.

"Finally, right?" said Staley. "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."

Staley tore his lateral meniscus the opening week of training camp and has appeared in only one game – New England – to run a few pass patterns. Staley said his injury differed from Ben Roethlisberger's injury in that Staley had some arthritis in his knee.

"That's why it took so long coming back," he said. "I had a little more surface damage."

Steelers coach Bill Cowher had said earlier this season that Staley wouldn't be 100 percent healthy this season, but Staley said he's close to that level now.

"I feel pretty good," he said. "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."

Staley was asked if he'd been lobbying Cowher for playing time.

"What really happened," Staley said, "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 (calf) 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."

The 30-year-old appears fit. When asked if he's lost weight recently, Staley smiled.

"No," he said. "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."


Bettis said his injury occurred against the Cincinnati Bengals when he was hit in the thigh by a helmet. Bettis missed Thursday's practice and was one of three downgrades. The others were Roethlisberger and defensive end Travis Kirschke, who's now questionable with a back injury. Offensive tackle Trai Essex was added to the injury report as probable after missing Thursday's practice with an illness. The only other player to miss Thursday's practice was safety Mike Logan, who's out with a hamstring injury.

Steel City Insider Top Stories