Sunday Afternoon Report

<p>LATROBE -- Wayne Gandy injured his left ankle on a sweep play to Jerome Bettis and left the practice field. He's expected to miss at least the next couple of days and the first replacement was not his back up, second-year man Mathias Nkwenti, but right guard Oliver Ross.

When Ross moved to left tackle, first-round draft pick Kendall Simmons was inserted at right guard. Line coach Russ Grimm didn't give a good explanation for not using Gandy's back up, but did say that Nkwenti would receive reps with the first team Monday.

The reviews are widely mixed on Nkwenti. Joe Moore loves his potential but thinks his inconsistency will kill the team. Tunch Ilkin calls him the most improved player at camp but would be scared to death to use him in a game. Cowher made his statement by not using him first up as Gandy's replacement. Grimm is on his case constantly. Kimo von Oelhoffen, when asked about his ability, said "it's up to him." When I told Kimo I understood what he was NOT saying, he replied "Exactly." And then went on to say how much Kendall Simmons studies the game. So, that's the ups and downs on the kid from Cameroon. He played well Thursday, has a great body, is strong and fast, drives a Vette, and doesn't seem to have many friends on the team.

Cowher, after practice, gave a big vote of confidence to special teams coach Kevin Spencer. Cowher was also asked why he didn't go for the touchdown the other night instead of the short field goal. Cowher explained that he was trying to win the game. The reporter then came back with the best line of the year by the media: "I'm not questioning you. I'm just asking." That ranks up there with these Cowher-isms this year: "The starters will start," and "the heat was hot."

Dewayne Washington missed practice with a virus. Don't be surprised if we learn later that it's food poisoning because his wife is also sick. It's supposed to be a 24-hour thing. Deshea Townsend replaced Washington and LaVar Glover moved into the dime.

Hines Ward was still working in the slot, so perhaps Troy Edwards' mental mistakes didn't cost him. Why not?

TE John Allred had a strong practice.

Townsend had two interceptions to lead the defense.

Lenzie Jackson's dropped pass ended the 7 on 7 passing drills. Lenzie can't keep blowing opportunities if he wants to make the team.

The second team OLine with Gandy out: Nkwenti LT, Chukky Okobi LG, Matt Anderson C, Keydrick Vincent RG, Josh Burr RT.

-- Jim Wexell


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