Running back Duce Staley indicated he was OK when walking off the field Thursday at the conclusion of the Steelers' training camp workout, but his lack of participation revealed otherwise.
He missed his second consecutive day of camp due to inflammation in his right knee. Coach Bill Cowher said he will hold Staley out of today's two workouts and expects him back Saturday.
"It's nothing serious. It's precautionary," Cowher said.
Staley had the knee drained two days ago to reduce the swelling and has been icing the injury at workouts. The 30-year-old back, who was held out of the team's run test Monday, practiced Tuesday, but has not participated since.
Staley has struggled with injuries throughout his career, including a bruised hamstring that forced him to miss six games last season and a season-ending foot injury in 2000.
"He's fine, it's nothing that we haven't done in the past," Cowher said. "Like I've said, we're just monitoring that. He'll be back out there Saturday."
Cowher said Staley is not undergoing any special treatments other than the fact he had the fluid drained.
Staley is expected to be the Steelers' featured back this season, but who would fill his role if he were unable to go? Jerome Bettis filled in solidly last season, nearly rushing for 1,000 yards, but he is 33 and would prefer to see his number of attempts reduced. He ran the ball 250 times last season.
Second-year back Willie Parker could be asked to play a more prominent role, in addition to four-year veteran Verron Haynes, and, perhaps, rookie Noah Herron, who's looked good at camp.
Cowher said he is confident in Haynes, a third-down back, and Parker, who was the hit of training camp last season. Haynes had 272 yards last season, and Parker had 186 with a 5.8-yard rushing average.
"I think Willie, like a lot of second-year players, is so much more comfortable now. He knows what to anticipate and what to expect. ... Noah Herron has done some good things since he's been here. So that's another guy we'll get a good chance to look at in the preseason and a lot of Verron."