Pittsburgh Steelers LB Porter gets starting nod

Joey Porter's comeback from a gunshot wound to starting linebacker in three weeks isn't a miracle, but it's astounding to him and many around him. Porter was upgraded to probable on Thursday and will start against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

A 9mm bullet passed through his buttocks and lodged in his right thigh on Aug. 31 when he was shot randomly outside a popular sports bar in downtown Denver. The bullet was removed the next day in Pittsburgh and Porter will have missed just two games, not half the season as many predicted when he was first shot.

Porter went through two full practices Wednesday and Thursday and said he felt good.

"I'm definitely blessed," Porter said. "God is good. He definitely touched me and put me in a situation now that lets me put everything in front of me that means something, lets me know where life stands. I'm just happy to be here. What I've come through and having the chance to go out there and do what I love to do best, play football, 20 days after what happened is actually amazing."

Said coach Bill Cowher: "It's amazing. Where he is at today, where he's been ... everything kept getting positive. We kept waiting for that one little setback. It was almost too good to be true. Now he is out there, and even at the end of last week he was getting ornery and lobbying. Three weeks ago when we first got the news and to think he would be where he is today -- it's an amazing story."

-- LB Clark Haggans will lose his starting job now that Joey Porter is back, but Haggans could return in some pass defenses. Haggans started at right OLB in the first two games and played right rush end in the nickel defense.

-- RB Verron Haynes remains questionable and may not play on third downs in Cincinnati. Starting RB Amos Zereoue would likely add to his duties by playing on third downs, a job he held last year when Jerome Bettis was the starting RB.

-- S Troy Polamalu looks lost playing in the nickel and dime defenses. Their first-round draft choice could not win a starting job as expected and is struggling against the pass as a deep safety.

-- LB Kendrell Bell is off to a slow start. He has just seven tackles and no sacks even though he's playing every down on defense.

-- SS Mike Logan resumed practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday with a bruised quad. He will play. He leads the Steelers with three passes defensed and is third on the team with 11 tackles.

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