Notebook: Adibi heads cut list

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> The last 11 fifth-round picks made by the Steelers lasted with the team as rookies, but the streak apparently came to an end Tuesday when fifth-round pick Nathaniel Adibi was cut along with five others.<br><br> The Steelers completed their first round of cuts Tuesday by releasing Adibi, cornerback Terry Fair, wide receivers Freddie Milons and Brian Robinson, defensive tackle David Upchurch and inside linebacker Allen Augustin.

Adibi, a defensive end from Virginia Tech, failed as a 3-4 outside linebacker for the Steelers. He's the only member of the 2004 draft class to be cut so far.

Fair, a veteran cornerback attempting to recover from a 2001 injury, reached an injury settlement with the Steelers. His interception in the preseason opener is the team's only turnover through three games.

Milons, a third-year veteran, was acquired by the Steelers last season in a trade for a conditional draft pick. He has one catch for 26 yards this preseason.

Robinson is a one-year veteran who was cut by the team last preseason. Upchurch, of West Virginia University, was a member of the Steelers' practice squad last season. Augustin was one of the Steelers' undrafted free-agent rookies this season.

INJURY REPORT
Bill Cowher said his starters will play a quarter Thursday night against Carolina. The kickoff has been changed to 6:30 p.m.

The only player Cowher lists as out is cornerback Deshea Townsend with a groin injury. Cowher said Townsend would be "ready to go full-tilt next week."

Ike Taylor will replace Townsend in the lineup, but will likely play left cornerback with Chad Scott moving over to Townsend's right cornerback position.

Questionable for the game are left guard Alan Faneca (shoulder), inside linebacker Kendrell Bell (shoulder/bicep) and back-up nose tackle Kendrick Clancy (groin).

"We'll see where Alan is and Kendrell is making progress," said Cowher. "There have been no setbacks and we'll see where he is come Thursday."

Jim Jones would replace Faneca and Larry Foote would replace Bell.

Listed as probable is wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who was kicked in the calf in the last game.

Running back Jerome Bettis missed practice Tuesday with an upper respiratory infection. He's expected back for Wednesday's practice.

BOUNCING BACK
Steelers radio analyst Myron Cope said he'll be back to announce the game Thursday night. He's missed the last two games with swollen vocal cords as a result of minor throat surgery this summer.

"I watched them all on television," Cope said. "Every time an idea hit me I would yell it out. It was like I was in prison."

HIGH PRAISE
Tight end Matt Kranchick has three receptions this preseason for 64 yards. The 6-foot-7 rookie from Penn State drew praise from Cowher at his Tuesday press conference.

"He has gotten dramatically better with every game, even his blocking," Cowher said. "There are still some things. At times you'd like to see him be more consistent, but you know you're getting a big guy who can stretch the field. He's caught the ball very well in games and made some plays. He's gotten a little better with each game, really a lot better with each game. He's dramatically improved from day one."

GOIN' HOME
Former Pitt quarterback Rod Rutherford is the Carolina Panthers' fourth-string quarterback. He was asked by the Charlotte Observer for his thoughts about playing Thursday night at Heinz Field.

"It's kind of exciting, going back home. I've been playing in Heinz Field for the last three years. Going back home with the opportunity to see my family is great."

Has the undrafted rookie given it much thought?

"Maybe once I get there, once I get back in the city, come through the tunnels and see the city just open up in front of my eyes I will," Rutherford said. "Right now, I'm just looking forward to seeing my family and having a good game."

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