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Steelers waiting to pick starting RB

Running backs Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley split time during practice Tuesday, and Steelers coach Bill Cowher might not announce a starter until Saturday.

"They're both going to play," Cowher said after the Steelers resumed practice following a three-day layoff before their divisional playoff game against the Jets. "We'll see how we are on game day."

Bettis (941 yards) and Staley (830 yards) split time during the regular season, but only after Staley injured a hamstring Oct. 31 against New England.

Bettis, used mostly as a short-yardage back until then, stepped in with six 100-yard games in as many starts before sitting out Jan. 2 at Buffalo with a sprained ankle. Staley started but was pulled from what was a meaningless game for Pittsburgh after carrying eight times for 21 yards.

Staley had four 100-yard games in a five-game stretch before he was injured, but he didn't gain more than 51 yards in any game during the second half of the season. He appeared to have less acceleration and power after returning, but Cowher was happy Tuesday. "He looked good today," he said.

BIG-HEARTED BEN: Steelers rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced he'll donate his first playoff paycheck to the tsunami victims relief effort.

Even on a team that encourages its players to participate in charity and community events, Roethlisberger's $18,000 gesture created a positive stir.

"Wow, I didn't even know that," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "Guys do a lot of different things in different ways that people don't always hear about, but that's great; that's for a great cause, definitely."

Roethlisberger hopes other players follow his lead.

"I'm going to donate my game check this week to the tsunami relief, and hopefully maybe (it will be) a challenge for other people to do that, too," he said.

KICKER RILES OPPONENT: Mike Vanderjagt's mouth is still causing trouble, even though he's criticizing his opponents and not his coach and quarterback.

Shortly after the Colts dominated Denver 49-24 in the first round of the AFC playoffs, Vanderjagt said of the Patriots, "I think they're ripe for the picking" in Sunday's playoff game.

Two years ago after the Super Bowl, Vanderjagt said QB Peyton Manning should show more emotion and coach Tony Dungy is too mild-mannered to be effective.

Two days later, Patriots safety Rodney Harrison fired back.

"He should focus on making the field goals, not worried about what we're doing over here, okay?" Harrison said. "I mean, he has to be a jerk, Vanderjerk, if he sits there and criticizes Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy, one of the best quarterbacks in the game and one of the best coaches in the game. And then for him to put his foot in his mouth again just shows what type of character he has."

VICK'S POTENTIAL BONANZA: Falcons quarterback Michael Vick might parlay postseason success into mega-millions in endorsements, according to sports marketing experts.

"Let's say he wins the Super Bowl," said Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp, a consulting firm in Chicago. "He would end up being, other than Peyton Manning, the poster child for NFL sponsors. The sky would be the limit; he'd have a rocket pack attached to his back."

DE STILL SORE: Jets defensive end John Abraham is questionable for Saturday's game with a sprained right knee.

_ TIMES WIRES

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