Willie Parker stepped in a hole while practicing on Wednesday and aggravated the knee injury that caused him to miss the last two games. His status for Sunday's game vs. the Bengals is uncertain. Also missing practice were left tackle Marvel Smith (back spasms) and starting nose tackle Casey Hampton. Hampton was expected to practice on Thursday.
Willie Parker's injury is disconcerting, as fullback Carey Davis is listed as out for Sunday's game with a sprained ankle and Rashard Mendenhall is out for the season. If Parker is unable to play, that would leave the Steelers with only Mewelde Moore and Najeh Davenport in the backfield. Although Moore filled in quite capably against the Jaguars nearly two weeks ago (17 carries for 99 yards), he is much better suited to third-down duties.
The Steelers should be able to overcome one more game without Parker, as the Bengals have been barely able to get our of their own way. However, the following four games are versus the Giants, Redskins, Colts, and Chargers. In the Steelers favor is that only the Redskins game is on the road.
If Parker can't play, look for more spread offense sets with quick passes, screens, and draw plays.