GAME SNAPSHOT: Steelers - Raiders

<b>KICKOFF: </b> Sunday, 1:00 ET <BR><b>GAMEDATE: </b> 9/12/04 <BR><b>SURFACE: </b> Grass <BR><b>TV: </b> CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Lesley Visser <BR><b>SERIES: </b> 22nd meeting. The Oakland Raiders lead the series, 11-10. The Steelers are 5-4 at home and 4-1 vs. the Raiders under coach Bill Cowher. This is the third straight season the two former archrivals will meet, the first time that has happened since 1972-74. Pittsburgh won Dec. 7 in Heinz Field, 27-7.

2003 RANKINGS: Raiders: offense 25th (16th rush, 27th pass); defense 30th (32nd rush, 22nd pass). Steelers: offense 22nd (31st rush, 14th pass); defense 9th (12th rush, 11th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Steelers are determined to improve their running game with RBs Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis. That said, they will avoid massive Raiders DT Ted Washington and run at Warren Sapp, who will often line up at end when Oakland goes to a 3-4 front. Sapp's only edict is to rush the passer and he will play a big role in helping out the secondary, which is likely to have CB Charles Woodson only in as a nickel corner. The Raiders want to stretch the field in coach Norv Turner's offensive system, and QB Rich Gannon must prove that, at 38, he has the arm to get the ball deep to WR Jerry Porter. The Steelers' secondary can give up chunks of yards, especially if the line fails to create pressure. RB Tyrone Wheatley is starting because Turner likes his power and ability to draw the defense in.

FAST FACTS: The teams are meeting for a third consecutive season, the first time that has happened since 1972-74. Raiders: Lead the series 11-10. ... Are 1-8 in road openers since 1991. Steelers: The defense did not record a sack, interception or forced fumble in four preseason games. ... Staley led the NFL with 6.4 yards-per-touch last season.

PREDICTED SCORE: Steelers 23, Raiders 20

The Raiders have reached an injury settlement with G Mo Collins, a first round draft pick in 1998. He was placed on injured reserve last week.

Rookie T Robert Gallery has worked out mostly on the right side this week but still has not been declared a starter for the opener at Pittsburgh.

WR Jerry Rice said he was relieved when he saw the playbook Norv Turner brought with him to the Raiders. "When I first came here, the terminology was intense," he said. "It was just like going back to college. If you missed one word, you didn't know where to line up. It's easier now. You don't have to really do that much thinking. You can just go out there and let your natural ability take over. You can just go and play football."

LB Napoleon Harris practiced on a limited basis Thursday and will probably not be forced into the lineup against Pittsburgh. "We're going to be smart about it," Turner said.

SS David Terrell could earn the start against the Steelers in place of injured Derrick Gibson but the Raiders are still holding out hope that recently acquired Marques Anderson can master the defensive system in time to be used.

SS Derrick Gibson underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder Wednesday and is out for the year.

The Raiders reached an injury settlement with CB Clarence Love Thursday.

CB Chad Scott was added to the injury report as probable on Thursday. He jammed his thumb in practice on Wednesday and has it heavily taped up.

LB Larry Foote will start if Kendrell Bell does not play and Foote also will play in the nickel defense for Bell even if Bell can play.

WR Lee Mays has won the No. 4 job over veteran Chris Doering, who held it last season.

S Mike Logan resigned with the Steelers as a free agent, turning down an offer from Green Bay. He started at strong safety last year. Not only did he lose that job, but he's not in any of their nickel and dime packages.

LB Joey Porter will play on all downs, at right outside linebacker in the regular defense and right rush end in the nickel and dime defenses.


Rich Gannon's spot in the Raiders' starting lineup has not changed but his contract has.

In a renegotiated deal, Gannon agreed to a base salary cut from $7 million to $4.5 million this week. He can make up the $2.5 million difference through incentives.

If he plays in 50 percent of Oakland's offensive plays this year, he will receive an additional $1.5 million and if he reaches 65 percent, the pot is sweetened another $1 million.

Gannon said that "it's not entirely true" that incentives had totally replaced any bonus money in his re-worked deal but did not elaborate.

Gannon said he was satisfied with the outcome of the new deal, obviously confident he can hold on to his starting job ahead of Kerry Collins.

Speculation has abounded since the Raiders signed Collins to a three-year deal in May that Gannon would be on the way out. Coach Norv Turner has remained steadfast that Gannon is his starter, even though Collins had a remarkable preseason in which he threw four touchdown passes totaling 228 yards. Gannon also played well, completing 58 percent of his passes for 298 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

Gannon is slated to make $8 million in 2005 and the numbers progress until he tops out at $11.5 million in 2008. Collins' base salary this year is $660,000 but he will make $4.7 million next year and $6 million in 2006.

Gannon said in January that he would renegotiate his deal but would not take "a penny less" than the $7 million he had coming.


Pittsburgh linebacker Kendrell Bell has come down with yet another injury and may not play on Sunday against Oakland.

Listed as questionable all week with a shoulder injury, Bell nevertheless got through practices on Monday and Wednesday. However, he did not practice on Thursday and a new injury appeared on the Steelers report for him: Groin.

Neither coach Bill Cowher nor Bell would comment after practice.

The linebacker was in a sullen mood all week. He did not play in the final three preseason games because of the shoulder injury, which was described as an "arthritic condition" by Cowher. He also missed all of the team's spring workouts after injuring his groin on the very first day.

Bell has not been the same since he earned NFL rookie defensive player of the year honors in 2001, a year in which he also went to the Pro Bowl. A sprained ankle hurt his cause in 2002 and he had an average season in 2003.

The Steelers dropped plans to use him on the nickel and dime defenses and he has reverted to a two-down player. Also, the team pulled its offer in negotiations several weeks ago and will allow Bell to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

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