By Teresa Varley
Running back Willie Parker missed his second day of practice on Thursday and his status for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals is day-to-day.
"We are still hopeful towards Sunday, but maybe not as hopeful as we were earlier in the week," said head coach Mike Tomlin.
Parker, who missed the Baltimore and Jacksonville games with a sprained knee, returned to practice on Monday and the outlook was promising for him to play in Cincinnati this week. But Parker was working out on Tuesday and felt discomfort in the knee, causing the setback.
"He took a small step backwards so he wasn't able to practice (Wednesday) and we didn't practice him (Thursday)," said Tomlin. "We will see where he is (Friday) morning and we will make the judgment whether or not we activate him as we push closer to Sunday. The big thing is we look at how he is in the morning and see if he is capable of practicing."
If Parker doesn't play against the Bengals Mewelde Moore will get the majority of the carries with Gary Russell and Najeh Davenport giving him a breather.
Nose tackle Casey Hampton, who also missed the last two games with a groin injury, saw limited action in practice on Thursday.
"He felt pretty good; we will see where he is (Friday) morning," said Tomlin.
Tackle Marvel Smith, who has had back spasms, is still experiencing discomfort and has yet to practice this week. If he can't go on Sunday Max Starks will get the start in his place.
"He has looked good; but we all know that there is a difference between practice and Sunday afternoon at one o'clock," said Tomlin of Starks. "He is working well, communicating well with the other men. We are just pushing him to prepare for Sunday. Should we have to call on him, we will expect him to deliver."
There is good news, though. Kicker Jeff Reed practiced on Thursday and he is expected to handle field goal and kickoff duties on Sunday.
"He kicked well," said Tomlin. "His was one of the injury situations we have been pleasantly surprised with this week. It looks like he is going to be fine."