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Old 08-24-2006, 04:39 AM   #1
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Default Does the Bus have a replacement?

Associated Press
Posted: 7 hours ago

LATROBE, Pa. (AP) - One of the intriguing questions before the Pittsburgh Steelers opened training camp was this: Who would replace Jerome Bettis as their short-yardage and goal-line specialist, the running back who gained a game's most important yardage?

The answer, apparently, is nobody. Or everybody.

Former starter Duce Staley or third-down back Verron Haynes appeared to be competing for the job, but coach Bill Cowher said Wednesday the Steelers probably won't have such a specialist this season. That means starter Willie Parker might get the ball frequently inside the 10-yard line, something that rarely happened last season.

"It's hard for me to say when we get into short yardage that we're going to make any kind of change," Cowher said. "If somebody starts to surface and becomes that guy, I wouldn't rule it out, but I can't say right now there's been one person like there was with Jerome. And I don't think that's a bad thing. That's the way it was last year. This year's a different year."

Staley is more of a power runner than Parker and looked to be a logical replacement for Bettis. But Staley has had an uneven training camp and has rushed for only 25 yards on 12 carries in two exhibition games.

The Steelers are rumored to be willing to trade Staley, though it seems unlikely they would go into the season with only Haynes as a backup to Parker.

Staley opened the 2004 season as the starter, averaging 100-plus yards for seven games until getting hurt, yet was frequently pulled for Bettis in goal-line situations. Bettis kept that role last season when Parker started. Parker outrushed Bettis 1,202 yards to 368 yards and averaged 1.4 yards per carry more than Bettis did, but Bettis ran for nine touchdowns to Parker's four.
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