Wednesday afternoon's practice report

<b>LATROBE -</b> The Steelers got a very big scare Wednesday afternoon when guard Kendall Simmons crumpled to the ground clutching his knee midway through practice.

Simmons, the team's starting right guard, lay on the field for about 5 minutes while being checked out by doctors before finally getting to his feet. Simmons limped around for the remainder of practice, but seemed OK by the time things ended.

"It was just a mild knee sprain," said head coach Bill Cowher. "He may be out here working tomorrow, so we'll see."

Simmons joined a bevy of players who took the afternoon off as Cowher had his own version of "Veteran's Day" Wednesday.

Sitting out the afternoon practice were Hines Ward, Kimo von Oelhoffen, Jerome Bettis, Duce Staley, Mike Logan, Joey Porter, Jeff Hartings and Jay Riemersma. None were because of injuries, however, as Cowher just gave them the day off because they had been working hard.

Only Terry Fair, Kendrick Clancy and Shane Walton missed practice because of injuries, though Kendrell Bell sat out the contact portion.

Cowher said Clark Haggans will definitely not play Saturday against Houston, though Haggans has lobbied though the media to do so.

In the drills, Alonzo Jackson again failed to impress as a pass rusher. In fact, Jackson appeared to quit the drill after easily being pushed to the outside by Max Starks. Jackson hit his initial burst and quickly turned and ran to the other side of the field, where the passing drills were taking place. Nice effort.

Keydrick Vincent had a tough day in the drill, getting beaten soundly by Eric Taylor and later by Aaron Smith. Oliver Ross was solid, while Starks looked decent, despite being run out there more than any other lineman as Russ Grimm appeared to be testing him against a number of players.

Troy Polamalu had a interception over the middle off of Kurt Kittner, but Cowher was quick to point out - quite angrily - that the play would have been nullified by Dedrick Roper being offsides.

The team finished the session with a one-minute drill led by Ben Roethlisberger.

But with so many guys sitting out, it was like the first-and-a-half offense vs. its defensive counterpart.

Roethlisberger completed consecutive dump-offs to Verron Haynes for 15 yards, but was then sacked by Brett Keisel, who whipped Vincent handily.

But Roethlisberger then completed a 20-yard out to a diving Plaxico Burress - who made a great catch - before throwing incomplete to Lee Mays.

On his final play, Roethlisberger completed a 15-yard pass to Chris Doering to get the team into field goal range. Since that was all Cowher was looking for, he ended practice there, despite the fact 20 seconds remained on the clock.

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