Originally created 09/09/06

Batch comes through for city of Pittsburgh



PITTSBURGH - Charlie Batch grew up in Pittsburgh and returned to play as the Steelers reserve quarterback even though he could have gone elsewhere and made more money.

He is one of the few Steelers players who lives in the city all year, so he understands the intensity of the fans as well as anyone. Batch knows the Steelers are more than a team - they are part of the town's fabric.

So when Batch was unexpectedly needed to start the NFL opening-night game against Miami on Thursday, he felt the pressure to win. On an otherwise somber day when the Steelers tried to uplift their city, Batch knew he couldn't let anyone down.

"It was time to lead this team," Batch said.

Batch did that in his first season-opening start in five years, throwing three touchdown passes and overcoming a potentially momentum-stopping fumble in the fourth quarter during a 28-17 victory.

Hours before the game, Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor was buried following a funeral service. O'Connor, who died Friday of brain cancer, was a longtime Steelers season ticket holder.

- Former Packers running back Najeh Davenport signed with Pittsburgh on Friday.

PANTHERS: All-Pro receiver Steve Smith missed his third consecutive day of practice with a sore right hamstring, and it's questionable if he'll play in the season opener against Atlanta.

"There is nothing new with the injury report. Everyone is still listed the same," coach John Fox said.

REDSKINS: Running back Clinton Portis is targeting Washington's second game for his return from a shoulder injury.

He essentially ruled himself out for the Monday night opener against Minnesota. He wore a helmet and jersey during the entire practice Friday for the first time since partially dislocating his left shoulder four weeks ago, but said he was focusing on the upcoming games against Dallas and Houston.

JAGUARS: Cornerback Brian Williams, arrested last weekend on drunken-driving charges, apologized for his actions.

According to league rules, the Jaguars have no authority to fine or suspend Williams for matters involving criminal conduct or substance abuse, meaning Williams will play Sunday's season opener against Dallas.

- Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud missed a second consecutive day of practice and remained questionable for the season opener.

COWBOYS: Mike Vanderjagt probably won't kick in the regular season opener.

Parcells said Shaun Suisham would likely kick Sunday against Jacksonville instead of Vanderjagt.