Wednesday Practice Report

Steelers running back Jerome Bettis practiced sparingly Wednesday as he tries to come back from two weeks of inactivity after a knee sprain.<p> Head coach Bill Cowher said Bettis will practice more Thursday as he works to get back into the lineup in time for Sunday's game against Atlanta at Heinz Field.<p>

In other news Wednesday, after reviewing the game tape from Sunday's win over Cleveland, Aaron Smith had two sacks taken away from him and given to other players. Linebacker Clark Haggans was the biggest beneficiary, gaining 1 & 1/2 sacks to give him six for the season. That ties him with Joey Porter for the team lead. Linebacker Jason Gildon received the other 1/2 sack, sharing a second quarter sack with Haggans. Gildon now has 1 & 1/2 sacks for the season, while Smith has 2.

Safeties Mike Logan (hamstring) and Brent Alexander (elbow), and running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (chest) did not practice Wednesday. Alexander is expected to practice Thursday.

Following is a question-and-answer period with Cowher after practice:

How was Jerome?

Cowher: He didn't do a whole lot today. We wanted to kind of ease him into it. He'll do a lot more tomorrow.

How long did he practice?

Cowher: I wasn't counting the plays, to be honest with you.

Whole afternoon, a little bit?

Very little.

If he's 100 percent by the end of this week, who starts at running back?

Cowher: We'll have to wait and see if he is 100 percent, so I can't answer that right now.

How healthy is Kendrell and does he need to get back to where he was last year to make this defense really speccial?

Cowher: I think he's back now. We don't need anyone to do anything special. I think we're on track now.

So he's recovered from the ankle?

Cowher: Yes.

Bill, what's up with Brent Alexander?

Cowher: He's got an elbow. If I missed him, I'll put him on the list as probable.

That was the bruise from when he hit it on a helmut during the game?

Cowher: Yeah. Sunday, he came back in and finished. We just wanted to keep him out of any contact today. He'll do everything tomorrow.

Coach, we had Dan Reeves on the conference call today and he spoke very highly of Terrance Mathis. What are your thoughts about how he's helped the team on the field and off the field?

Cowher: He's been a great addition. He's a verteran who's been in this league for a long time. I just have so much respect for the guy and so do the players. He's got a good perspective of things. He's got a great work ethic. He's meshed in very well with this football team and he's highly respected. I know I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.

Bill, I know this is off the subject, but how hard is it to get a backup quarterback with the salary cap structure?

Cowher: You're going to develop young players and bring them along. I don't know if it's so much a hinderance as it is a problem because of the expansion of teams. You're always trying to find a good young quarterback to develop, and with the demands put on winning that it takes sometimes - that with the growing pains, some teams aren't able to throw them in there and allow them to grow as they have in the past. I don't know so much if it's the salary cap as it is that position.

--Dale Lolley

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