Notebook: QBs feeling better

PITTSBURGH – The Steelers' quarterback situation improved to the point that all three are in the running for the starting job Sunday against Jacksonville.

Coach Bill Cowher said "it'll probably be a game-time decision", so here's how the derby's shaping up:

Ben Roethlisberger (hyperextended knee) didn't practice Thursday, but jogged and threw briefly.

How did he feel?

"There's nothing wrong with my shoulder," Roethlisberger said with a smirk. "But, no, it felt alright."

"We'll see how he feels (Friday)," said Cowher. "But he made significant progress from (Wednesday)."

Roethlisberger is listed as doubtful.

Tommy Maddox (calf) was upgraded from questionable to probable and practiced more than he had the previous day. "He appears to be very good," Cowher said.

Charlie Batch (injury-ravaged career) remained healthy through a second practice this week.

The Steelers will hold another full practice Friday and a walk-through Saturday. Cowher said a player doesn't necessarily have to practice in order to play on Sunday.

"It's case by case," he said. "Obviously if somebody doesn't practice all week you've got to take that into account. I've never had a blanket rule in regards to that, but we'll certainly look at all the circumstances and go from there."

As for the starting halfback, Cowher said his intention is to start Willie Parker and work Jerome Bettis into the game. Cowher also said Duce Staley has "gotten better and better every week."


Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo feels bad about his hit on Roethlisberger that hyperextended the quarterback's knee. The rookie from Northwestern called his former teammate, Steelers rookie Trai Essex, after the game.

"He was very apologetic," said Essex. "It was definitely an accident. He didn't do it on purpose. He's not a cheap player; he never has been. Max (Starks) told me he started apologizing right after the play."

Before the game, Castillo and Essex reminisced about Roethlisberger's big game in college against Northwestern, and Castillo told Essex he felt honored to play against him again.

"He really admires Ben," Essex said. "They gave it to us bad that day. Ben threw for like 400 yards, three or four touchdowns, and beat us by 20 points or so. I knew he was the real deal after that game."


Aside from Roethlisberger and Hines Ward -- and those who've already been ruled out (Ricardo Colclough and Clark Haggans) -- the only other player to miss Thursday's practice was linebacker James Harrison, who's questionable with a groin injury. And, no, Harrison didn't hurt himself while hurdling LaDainian Tomlinson on an interception return in the second quarter. The injury occurred in the first quarter.

"He did a little bit of running today," Cowher said. "So I'm encouraged and hopefully he'll be able to get out there and work (Friday)."

The Jaguars downgraded running back Fred Taylor from probable to questionable with an ankle injury. They also added cornerback Rashean Mathis (hip) and safety Nick Sorenson (calf) to their list as probable, as are LB Akin Ayodele (back), DT John Henderson (shoulder) and WR Jimmy Smith (foot).


Cowher talked about his confidence in kicker Jeff Reed, who booted a 40-yarder with six seconds left to beat the Chargers. Cowher then was asked if Reed has ever missed a last-minute kick.

"No, but must we keep talking about it?" Cowher said. "This is like the kiss of death."

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