Notebook: Health for the holidays

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> Kendrell Bell returned to practice yesterday for the first time since Nov. 21. Chad Scott and Plaxico Burress practiced for a second consecutive day. Even Duce Staley practiced.

The Steelers are returning to health at the right time, but the only player to cause a ripple on the injury list was Clint Kriewaldt, who didn't practice at all.

A trainer approached Kevin Spencer and whispered the good news to the special-teams coach, that his unit's captain has a chance to play this week.

Kriewaldt was upgraded to questionable, joining Burress, Scott and Staley. Of the four, Burress is the most confident of playing.

The only players ruled out of Sunday's game for the Steelers are Bell and Clark Haggans.

Missing practice for the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday were Todd Heap (ankle), Jamal Lewis (ankle), Ray Lewis (wrist) and Deion Sanders (foot). It was the second consecutive practice missed by all four players, who are listed as questionable.


Ben Roethlisberger bought expensive suits for his offensive linemen yesterday, but it's a wonder they'll fit considering the rampage the boys went on a few weeks ago at the expense of rookie Max Starks.

Per tradition, the rookie offensive linemen treat the veteran offensive linemen to dinner at Morton's. The bill this season came to $13,000.

"Aw, he was sick," Keydrick Vincent said of Starks, who split the bill 67-33 with then-practice squad rookie Bo Lacy.

Lacy was picked up by another team the following week.

"I'm glad it wasn't a week earlier," said Starks. "That may have hurt drastically."

The bill set a new team record. "When me Keydrick and Mathias (Nkwenti) were rookies, the bill was half that," said Chukky Okobi.

"I tried my best to have fun," Starks said. "It was an experience to say the least."

Starks expected a big tab after hearing previous stories. "But I realized it was skewed because there were a couple more guys, higher-round guys," Starks said. "Also, they wanted to set a new record. They ordered the food they wanted. It just came out in platters instead of regular servings."

Does Starks, a third-round pick, now feel more closely bonded with the vets?

"I don't know if that would classify as a bonding experience, but it was an initiation I had to go through at some point," he said.

How was the food?

"It tasted good," said Vincent, "because I didn't have to pay. I just kept ordering stuff."


Defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen on:
  • The Steelers' MVP - "It's a tie. The two Smitties (Aaron Smith, Marvel Smith), Ben (Roethlisberger), (James) Farrior. That decision is going to be tough. I'll probably vote for all four and let them decide."

  • The Ravens' running game - "It's (Jonathan Ogden) and Edwin Mulitalo. When they both weren't playing, they didn't win. When you put both of those boys in there, it's the toughest duo I've faced in 11 years."

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