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STEELERS DOMINATE SAINTS AS TOMLIN WINS DEBUT

A dominant first half by the Steelers made former Bucs assistant Mike Tomlin a winner in his debut, 20-7 over the Saints on Sunday night in the preseason opener.

Ben Roethlisberger was sharp in his only series in the Hall of Fame Game, completing 2 of 3 for 73 yards. On a 55-yard play, Cedric Wilson got behind safety Kevin Kaesviharn, then he beat New Orleans' top cornerback, Mike McKenzie, for 18 yards.

Running back Najeh Davenport, starting for the Steelers' Willie Parker, bulled in from the 4 for a 7-0 lead.

In the first half, Pittsburgh outgained New Orleans 305-56. Overall, it was 413-214.

The Saints didn't use starting running back Deuce McAllister and gave Reggie Bush only two carries for 8 yards.

"We had a good first step," Tomlin said. "We did some good things, got some big plays, some chunks (of yardage). I tried to create an environment for the coaches and players to do their jobs.''

Saints first-round pick Robert Meachem, a receiver from Tennessee, was laid out by rookie cornerback William Gay in the fourth. Gay also had an interception.

"Obviously, we still have some work to do," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees after going 1-for-6 for 6 yards.

PANTHERS, CHIEFS SIGN PICKS: Panthers rookie Jon Beason, a linebacker from the University of Miami, ended his eight-day holdout when he signed a five-year contract that includes more than $6-million in guaranteed money.

Agent Michael Huyghue said Beason, the 25th pick, will get a $3.2-million signing bonus.

Also, the Chiefs have come to terms with their first-round pick.

Former LSU receiver Dwayne Bowe, the 23rd pick, agreed to terms. Bowe is expected in camp today and should be available for Saturday's preseason opener against the Browns.

BILLS RESERVE CHARGED: Buffalo reserve defensive end Anthony Hargrove was charged with several misdemeanors after a confrontation with police outside a nightclub early Sunday in Rochester, N.Y. Hargrove was one of hundreds involved in an altercation outside the Venu Night Club around 2 a.m., according to police spokeswoman Deidre Taccone. He was arguing with a bouncer when police arrived. He is accused of shoving an officer in the face, breaking his glasses but not injuring him.

OWENS OUT: Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens missed practice because of lower back tightness. Owner Jerry Jones said he wasn't worried about Owens' absence, and that the team didn't consider the muscle stiffness to be serious. It wasn't clear if Owens would return to practice today, and his availability for the preseason opener Thursday against the Colts was uncertain.

GIANTS: Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan said his holdout has nothing to do with money or his recent divorce. "When an athlete like myself who does what I do for a living starts having doubts, then it's time to take a step back and seriously consider my future," Strahan, 35, said in an open letter to Giants fans that was distributed via e-mail by his agent. "Anyone who plays in the NFL with doubts or second guessing is not only putting themselves at risk, but their teammates also. I will never do that."

FAST FACTS

Unsigned first-round picks

Overall draft pick, team

1. QB J. Russell, Oakland

14. CB Darrelle Revis, NYJ

22. QB Brady Quinn, Clev.

Signed Sunday

23. WR Dwayne Bowe, K.C.

25. LB Jon Beason, Carolina

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