"There's some nagging injuries we have and that's this time of camp right now," Cowher said. "You've got to fight through that. That's where we are."
The news on Kendrell Bell's injured ankle was positive for the Steelers. He underwent x-rays and an MRI, which revealed a high ankle sprain. Since Bell had a similar injury in college, Cowher doesn't expect the recovery period to be as long as normal.
"A study showed that people who've had high ankle sprains previously will have a faster recovery time on the second one," Cowher said. "That has proven to be the case. The worst ones are the first ones. They take longer. Again, we are encouraged. He had x-rays done on his ankle this morning, MRI, everything was done and all the results were very positive. We'll keep him in a cast for the week and then go from there. We're still cautiously optimistic for the first game."
The Steelers lined up with John Fiala at the buck inside linebacker position and moved James Farrior into Bell's mac inside linebacker spot. Outside linebacker Clark Haggans replaced Bell as the rush end in the dime defense.
Kordell Stewart (concussion), Charlie Batch (chin laceration) and Amos Zereoue (ankle) returned to practice after leaving Sunday's game with injuries. LaVar Glover did not return and Cowher called his abdominal strain "the most significant injury." Wayne Gandy (ankle) and Jerame Tuman (abdomen) returned to practice after missing last week with injuries. Deshea Townsend (shoulder) and Rameel Connor (knee) continued to miss practice, although Townsend is expected back tomorrow. Chad Scott missed practice with an illness, through which Cowher said the cornerback played Sunday. Scott's also expected back Wednesday.
During practice, rookie first-round pick Kendall Simmons injured his right hamstring after planting his right foot and slipping with his left foot.
"It popped," said the dejected right guard.
"It might be a couple days with that," said Cowher.
With Gandy back, Simmons' was replaced in the lineup by Oliver Ross. Hines Ward injured his left shoulder in practice after going up for a pass and landing on it. The Steelers' other starting receiver, Plaxico Burress, hyperextended his left knee and then caught Stewart's pass while lying on the ground in pain. Cowher doesn't believe either injury is serious.
PRACTICE HIGHLIGHTS -- Stewart threw a couple of beautiful long bombs to Burress, but just when you thought the cobwebs were gone from Stewart's concussion the other night, he was picked off by defensive lineman/long snapper Bobby Jones as he dropped in zone blitz coverage. Another highlight was made by Chris Hope, who blanketed tight end Matt Cushing to break up a pass from Batch. Maybe there's hope for the third-round pick yet.
TOP QUOTE -- Cowher on Bettis' performance Sunday night: "Yeah, he, for the first time, showed some signs. He's not there yet, but it was very encouraging to see the way he ran the other night."
-- Jim Wexell