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Friday, September 01, 2006

Staley by default?

Duce Staley and Bill Cowher both spoke after Thursday’s preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers as if there was nothing wrong with the Pittsburgh Steelers running back.

If they really think that, neither is as smart as I’ve given them credit for.

It’s obvious Staley is no longer hitting the hole like he once did. Heck, he’s not even hitting the hole like Jerome Bettis once did and Bettis was never exactly quick into the hole.

What Bettis did have, was that wiggle to go along with the power to do something even if he didn’t exactly get to the hole that was there.

We did see a little bit of power running out of Staley against the Panthers. More often than not, he drove forward through the tackle. But there were times when a faster running back would have taken the ball for a nice gain and Staley rumbled forward for a two-yard gain.

The question is, can the Steelers live with that in their backup running back?

The thinking here is yes, unless a better option comes along.

John Kuhn didn’t help distinguish himself by fumbling for the second time in this preseason, while Cedric Humes just hasn’t shown enough to be a better option than Staley.

Carolina’s Eric Shelton is rumored to be on his way out and ran well against the Steelers, but he was a second-round pick last year. The Steelers would likely have to work out some kind of trade to get him since they probably wouldn’t get a shot at him in waivers.

Nehemiah Broughton is another guy the Steelers liked last year when he was coming out of college who may not have a spot on Washington’s roster this season with the team’s trade for T.J. Duckett.

© Arnold Harrison may have won himself a job on this team with his performance against the Panthers.

Harrison had played well during this preseason and put the exclamation point on that by recording eight tackles and two sacks – along with a special teams tackle – against the Panthers.

It may help matters that Richard Seigler, who was also pushing for a spot, was in a walking boot after the game. That injury may allow the Steelers to sneak Seigler through waivers or even put him on injured reserve if they so choose.

© Harrison wasn’t the only young linebacker who did good things Thursday night. The team’s four leading tacklers in the game were Rian Wallace (9), Harrison and Andre Frazier (8) and Seigler (6).

Not bad for a team who was questioned for not taking a linebacker in the draft.

© Chris Kemoeatu continues to impress with his aggressiveness, but sometimes his nature gets the best of him.

His offensive facemask penalty on a play on which Kuhn fumbled got him a good tongue lashing from Cowher.

© I don’t think it matters who Cowher names the starter at free safety. They are only keeping the position warm for Anthony Smith, who continued to show off his skills as a big hitter against the Panthers.

When will that move come? Maybe as soon as the bye week.

© Did Omar Jacobs win a spot on the 53-man roster with his performance Thursday?


It’s more likely the team will still try to sneak him onto the practice squad, but Jacobs’ performance may have made that move a little more difficult. Before Thursday’s game, the Steelers could have put Jacobs on the practice squad and not worried about him getting picked up by anyone else. Now, who knows?

At the very least, Jacobs threw his name into the mix to stay on the 53-man roster. He also probably saved himself a phone call at least until Saturday. He won’t be among Friday’s cuts.

© I like the signing of Willie Parker to what should turn out to be a bargain deal.

Parker is going to have a big season both running with and catching the ball and would have cost the Steelers much more than what they paid him after this season.

It’s too bad cornerback Ike Taylor didn’t realize he would have saved himself a lot of sleepless nights by taking a similar deal. Taylor has to realize he is in a similar situation to Parker.

No matter how good they were last season, they have still only done it for one year. Sure, he’s confident in his ability to play well again.

But if he does indeed like Pittsburgh as much as he says, he has to realize the team wasn’t going to break the bank to sign him – not with the bank-breaking contracts the team is going to have to pay safety Troy Polamalu and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the near future.

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