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Steelers win preseason opener

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, August 8, 2008

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The Steelers are actively trying to sign a veteran quarterback Friday night after losing Charlie Batch for at least a month to a broken right collarbone in their 16-10 win over the Eagles at Heinz Field.

Batch left the game early in the second quarter after rushing for 6 yards on a broken play.

Coach Mike Tomlin said he is expected to miss four to six weeks.

"Unfortunate incident," Tomlin said, "but our approach is it's part of football. We'll regroup and make necessary adjustments."

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The loss of Batch leaves the Steelers with two rookies, fifth-round pick Dennis Dixon and undrafted free agent Mike Potts, behind Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

Their inexperience is why the Steelers were working the phones right after they beat the Eagles in the preseason opener for each team.

Batch ended up with the ball in the Steelers' backfield after Mewelde Moore went the wrong way on a running play. He broke a couple of tackles but paid dearly for the surprising gain he made.

"The competitor got the best of him and he lowered his shoulder," Tomlin said. "The end result was a broken collarbone."

Said Moore, who signed with the Steelers in March, "I'm wearing it. Nobody 's trying to make mistakes like that. It's tough"

Willie Parker had been the story before the Steelers announced the severity of Batch's injury.

Playing in his first game since breaking his lower right leg last December, Parker gained 20 yards on three carries in the Steelers' win/loss to the Eagles at Heinz Field. His night ended long before the sun went down Friday -- and even before Santonio Holmes capped the Steelers' opening drive of the night with a 19-yard touchdown reception.

"It was big for me personally, getting on that field and running and getting everything all back," Parker said. "It's just like a dream come true. I've been thinking about this for a long time."

As with Parker, the Steelers turned Roethlisberger into a spectator even before the first quarter had ended.

Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense made it look easy the one series the starters did play together.

The Steelers marched 80 yards in just eight plays and gave the Eagles a steady dose of Parker and rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Roethlisberger completed both of his pass attempts for 38 yards before giving way to Batch. On Steelers' first touchdown, Holmes caught a short pass in the flat, put a couple of jukes on safety Brian Dawkins and raced past the perennial Pro Bowler as if he were a statue.

"It was a big statement about what our offense is going to be like in the games to comes," Holmes said.

Indeed, the Steelers' opening drive Friday gave a glimpse into how many weapons Roethlisberger may have at his disposal. That is especially true with Parker looking like he has fully recovered from the injury that ended his season in 2007 when he was leading the NFL in rushing.

If his leg holds up and Mendenhall emerges as a true complement to Parker, the Steelers' running game could be robust this season.

Mendenhall, the Steelers' first-round pick in this year's draft, made a good first impression. He ran with authority and banged out 34 yards on seven carries in the first half.

"We ran the ball really well," Roethlisberger said. "I think it was awesome that the offensive line did a great job of run blocking."

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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