Notebook: Harrison's heavy heart

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> James Harrison was thrust into the spotlight Sunday afternoon, little more than 24 hours after learning one of his closest friends had died.

Roy Attieh, who came to camp in 2003 with the Steelers, was killed early Saturday morning in a car accident. He was driving on Interstate 76 near Akron when his pickup truck veered out of control. The accident occurred between 2:30 and 3 a.m.

Attieh and Harrison played together at Kent State from 1999 to 2001.

"Me and Roy were real close," said Harrison. "Anytime I went home, I went to see him. He was just driving home after a night out, and maybe he overcorrected while he was driving and the truck flipped six times."

Harrison learned of the accident Saturday morning. On Sunday morning, after second-team right outside linebacker Alonzo Harrison had been deactivated, first-team ROLB Joey Porter was ejected for spitting and punching during pre-game warm-ups. Harrison, a special-teams player, was the only outside linebacker left on the active roster, and so he made his first pro start.

Harrison said adrenaline was the reason he made two tackles in the game's first three plays, and those tackles helped hold the Browns to a field goal after Richard Alston had returned the opening kickoff to the Pittsburgh 18. Harrison finished the game with six tackles to lead the team.

Steelers coach Bill Cowher was asked if he was surprised by Harrison's performance.

"Surprised from that standpoint that you find out about 10 minutes before the game starts that you are going to start," Cowher said. He also praised Harrison's versatility, special-teams play, professional approach, attention to detail and explosiveness.

"He did a great job stepping in for Joey," Cowher said. "He really did."

Harrison was asked if he'd given thought to the tragedy in any way being connected to his big professional break.

"Not really," he said. "I can't really explain it. Looking back on it now, hey, maybe he talked to somebody up there and got Joey a little hot and that was my chance to get some burn. I don't know. I do believe everything happens for a reason. I haven't figured out what this one was though."


The talk in the locker room Wednesday, at least via several reporters, was the racy introduction to the recent Monday Night Football in which an actress from another ABC show staged a seduction of Terrell Owens. The scene upset chairman Dan Rooney, who complained to a Pittsburgh reporter on Tuesday, but it didn't seem to bother Hines Ward or Jerome Bettis.

"He needs to work on his acting skills," Ward said of Owens. "But it was funny to me. It's all about getting ratings up. They want to promote their other show. I don't see anything wrong with it."

Said Bettis: "I don't know how tasteful it was, but I mean the show is hot. Monday Night Football always is on the cutting edge of doing things. I didn't have a problem with it."

Is anything involved with pop culture these days truly cutting edge?

"Yeah," Bettis said. "You're trying to mix in mainstream television with football, and you're trying to incorporate two different audiences. So I understand what they're trying to do. Maybe it didn't come off the best way."


Missing practice Wednesday were Chad Scott (quadricep), Verron Haynes (toe), Jay Riemersma (groin), Duce Staley (hamstring), von Oelhoffen (back), Jerome Bettis (knee), James Harrison (shoulder) and Hines Ward (blister/foot). Scott has again been ruled out of Sunday's game at Cincinnati, while Haynes, Riemersma, Staley and von Oelhoffen are questionable.

Cincinnati Bengals who missed practice Wednesday were right tackle Willie Anderson (knee), cornerback Deltha O'Neal (elbow) and linebacker Caleb Miller (ankle). All three players are questionable for Sunday's game. Back-ups who missed practice were cornerback Rashad Bauman (Achilles), defensive end Carl Powell (knee) and cornerback Reggie Myles (chest).


After an enthusiastic and energetic practice for the Steelers on Wednesday, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked if it was a wild practice:

"A wild practice?" he said. "Oh, no. I think everyone was a little dead at first and then it picked up, especially when you start going against the first defense in third down. It gets competitive and we were out there having a little bit of fun with each other."

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