Steelers Notebook: Parker thrives in home games

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Willie Parker has as many 100-yard games as he did last season after seven games. And he is tied for fourth in rushing in the American Football Conference with 564 yards.

But Parker, a second-year starter, is already behind his pace of a year ago when he rushed for 1,202 yards and was second among 1,000-yard rushers in the AFC with a per-carry average of 4.7 yards.

That, though, could change in a hurry.

Parker has three 100-yard rushing games this season, and they have all come at Heinz Field. He gets another chance Sunday against the Denver Broncos (5-2), who are fourth in the AFC in rush defense.

Last year, in the eighth game of the season, Parker had his lowest output of the season, gaining 13 yards on five carries before injuring his ankle against the Green Bay Packers. He had rushed for 602 yards on 127 carries in his first seven games.

"We need to get this turned around in a hurry," Parker said.

He was referring to the team's 2-5 start, not his rushing totals.

Parker is coming off a performance in which he rushed for 83 yards on 22 carries against the Oakland Raiders, numbers that were helped by a 39-yard run. But he also had 11 rushes of 1 yard or less, including a loss of 1 on first-and-goal at the Oakland 1 late in the fourth quarter.

"That's just how it was," Parker said. "There were so many runs that were just so close. We left a lot of stuff on that field. One play, I didn't pick up my feet. It's frustrating to me, knowing I could have done this or that."

Parker, though, has increased his touchdowns and receiving totals from last season. After catching five passes for 74 yards in seven games last season, he has 13 catches for 75 yards in 2006, including a 25-yard touchdown against the Raiders. It was Parker's sixth touchdown this season, third most in the AFC behind San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson (11) and Kansas City's Larry Johnson (10).

"We just got to get better," Parker said.

A silent Staley

Running back Duce Staley has declined interviews this week, likely because he will not be activated against the Broncos, even with the season-ending injury to running back Verron Haynes.

Fullback John Kuhn, who was signed from the practice squad this week, will likely dress against the Broncos because of his ability to play on special teams.

Haynes had knee surgery Wednesday to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and was placed on injured reserve.

Slow to heal

Wide receiver/kick returner Willie Reid, who got a mid-foot sprain in his only appearance this season, is healing slower than anticipated -- the reason he keeps going backward on the injury report.

Reid was injured Oct. 15 game against Kansas City and listed as questionable for the following week in Atlanta.

After not playing against the Falcons, he was listed as doubtful for the game in Oakland. Now, after not playing in Oakland, Reid has already been proclaimed out for the game against the Broncos.

"It was worse than what we thought," Reid said of the injury. "It's like a bad sprain. It's just taking time to heal."

Quick hits

The Steelers signed running back Carey Davis to their practice squad to replace rookie running back Cedric Humes, who was replaced on the practice injured list. That means Humes, a seventh-round draft choice, cannot practice with the team the rest of the year. Davis, who played at the University of Illinois, is a first-year free agent who was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in training camp. He was cut by Tampa Bay, signed to the practice squad by the Miami Dolphins, and released. ... Cornerback Deshea Townsend (quad/probable) returned to practice. He was the only player on the injury report who did not practice Wednesday. ... Nose tackle Casey Hampton (hamstring), who did not play in Oakland, has practiced the past two days and was upgraded from questionable to probable on the injury report.


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