With or Without Parker and Roethlisberger, Dungy Says Preparing for Steelers the Same
INDIANAPOLIS – Their starting quarterback may or may not play.
That much has been known about the Pittsburgh Steelers all week, and on Friday came the news that starting running back Willie Parker's status is uncertain, too.
All of which is fine, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said Friday morning, but Dungy said the thing to remember as the Colts prepared to play the AFC North-leading Steelers was as true Friday as it was early in the week.
No matter the personnel, the task remains the same.
"You have to play their system," Dungy said Friday as the Colts (4-4) continued preparing to play the Steelers (6-2) at Heinz Field Sunday at 4:15 p.m.
"They're not going to change what they do, whether (quarterback Byron) Leftwich is in there, whether (running back Mewelde) Moore is in there. (Tight end) Heath Miller may or may not play. They are kind of like we are on that side of things in that they just do what they're supposed to do. The next guy steps up and does his job.
"They've done it with a lot of different guys in the lineup this year."
Parker, who started the first three games of the season before missing four games with a knee injury, returned to the lineup this past Monday against Washington. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a shoulder injury, and media resaid Friday he could miss Sunday's game.
Mewelde Moore, who signed with the Steelers as a free agent in the offseason, started in Parker's absence, rushing for 303 yards in three starts. Parker has rushed for 333 yards and four touchdowns on 87 carries this season.
"He's a good back for them, and obviously when you lose one of your top players, other guys have to step up," Dungy said of Moore. "He picks his way and has great vision – cutback stuff. He doesn't have the burst outside, necessarily, that Parker has, but he's a good back.
"He's been productive for them in the last month."
Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a shoulder injury.
Roethlisberger, a Pro Bowl selection last season, left the Steelers' victory over the Washington Redskins this past Monday after scoring on a 1-yard sneak just before halftime. He had sustained a slight separation of his right – and throwing – shoulder in the Steelers' opener, but started the next seven games.
Roethlisberger, who has started 38 of the last 39 games, completed 5 of 17 passes for 50 yards and no touchdowns with an interception against Washington.
Leftwich, who started for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-2006, completed seven of 10 second-half passes for 129 yards and a touchdown in Roethlisberger's place in a 23-6 Steelers victory.
"We don't know who all's going to play for them," Dungy said. "Coming off a Monday Night game – we kind of went through that same thing, where you're not quite in sync, but they'll be ready, I'm sure."
Also on Friday, the Colts released their third injury report of the week, with wide receiver Roy Hall (knee), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) and defensive tackle Dan Muir (hamstring) listed as questionable for Sunday and quarterback Jim Sorgi (right hand), tight end Tom Santi (shoulder) and right tackle Ryan Diem (ankle) listed as probable.
Hayden, Muir and Hall were listed as not participating in practice Friday, and Sorgi was listed as participating on a limited basis.
"All in all, I think we should be ready," Dungy said. "They're a tough, physical team. The more you watch, the more impressed you are, and it will be a rough game."