The Pittsburgh Steelers beat St. Louis, 41-24, Thursday night but lost franchise running back Willie Parker, who suffered a broken leg.

The Steelers (10-5) were desperate to win after dropping two in a row, and they did - but at a potentially terrible cost. The NFL's leading rusher with 1,316 yards, Parker broke his right fibula on his first carry and won't carry the ball again until off-season workouts begin.

By winning, the Steelers are all but certain of making the postseason; a loss by either Tennessee or Cleveland the next two weekends would ensure that, as would a Steelers victory in Baltimore on Dec. 30.

Parker's absence, however, may force the Steelers to greatly alter their offensive approach during the postseason, even though backup Najeh Davenport ran for 123 yards and scored two touchdowns against St. Louis.

Also, rookie linebacker Lawrence Timmons apparently broke a hand, but he might be ready for Baltimore.

Packers.

Green Bay might have to face the rival Chicago Bears tomorrow without Ryan Pickett, a key member of the defense.

The defensive tackle hurt his groin Sunday in the Packers' 33-14 win over the Rams and took part only in a limited portion of practice yesterday. He was listed as questionable for tomorrow's game.

Panthers.

Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers is doubtful for today's game against Dallas with a sprained right knee.

He missed his fourth consecutive practice and likely will be replaced by Stanley McClover or rookie Charles Johnson.

Peppers, who was hurt in Sunday's win over Seattle, has been held to three sacks. His streak of three straight Pro Bowl selections ended this week.

Safety Chris Harris, who has a sore hip, is listed as probable to play today.

Quarterback Vinny Testaverde (Achilles tendon) also participated in yesterday's walk-through after a day off and is listed as probable. Testaverde likely will be the No. 2 quarterback behind Matt Moore, who will make his second straight start.

Bills.

Buffalo receiver Roscoe Parrish is questionable for tomorrow's game against the New York Giants because of a shoulder injury. He fell on the shoulder late in Thursday's practice.

Parrish, Buffalo's third receiver, leads the league with a 17.5-yard punt-return average. He also has 33 catches for 307 yards and has scored a rushing, receiving and return touchdown.

Tight end Robert Royal (knee) practiced yesterday and is probable.

Raiders.

Josh McCown will start at quarterback for Oakland tomorrow in Jacksonville, with rookie JaMarcus Russell slated to come off the bench as a reserve.

Jurisprudence.

The attorney for one of the four suspects charged with killing Washington Pro Bowler Sean Taylor said he was talking with prosecutors about a plea agreement that may include testifying against the others.

Michael Hornung, who represents Venjah Hunte, said his client has maintained that he was not aware anyone had a weapon when they arrived at Taylor's home outside Miami or that violence would occur, and that he was not inside the home when Taylor was shot Nov. 26.

The attorney's comments came after a brief hearing for the four suspects, who have filed written pleas of not guilty to charges of first-degree felony murder and armed burglary. Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy set an April 7 trial date but indicated that might be delayed.