Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sat out the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice Wednesday to rest the hyperextended and bruised left knee that he suffered in Monday night's triumph at San Diego.
The Steelers aren't ruling out having Roethlisberger start Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field and he might do some throwing today. It seems unlikely that the Steelers would risk playing their prized second-year quarterback if he's not healthy, so they're preparing for backup Tommy Maddox or third-stringer Charlie Batch to start against the Jaguars.
The two split the practice-field snaps Wednesday. Maddox also is returning from an injury, having hurt his calf muscle during a practice last week. It was originally thought that he'd be sidelined for three to four weeks, but he's made a quick return. He was the Steelers' starter before getting hurt in the second game of last season and giving way to Roethlisberger, who has a 16-1 regular-season record as an NFL starter.
Batch replaced Roethlisberger for the final three offensive plays of the Chargers game. He's a former starter for the Detroit Lions. His last NFL start came on Dec. 2, 2001, and he hasn't thrown a regular-season pass since the 2003 season.
Quarterback Michael Vick took a step toward returning to the Atlanta Falcons' lineup this week, testing his injured right knee by participating in Wednesday's practice. Coach Jim Mora stopped short of declaring that Vick will start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints in San Antonio, but the chances of that seem to be improving.
Vick sat out Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots because of a sprained medial collateral ligament. Matt Schaub started in Vick's place and would get the nod again if Vick is unable to play against the Saints.
Rosenhaus Plays Deal-Maker for Shockey
Agent Drew Rosenhaus gained a national reputation for combativeness during the offseason contract stare-down between wide receiver Terrell Owens and the Philadelphia Eagles. Owens still hasn't gotten the new deal that he wants. But Rosenhaus has demonstrated over and over in other sets of negotiations that he is perhaps the premier deal-maker in his industry, and that was reinforced Wednesday when he completed a five-year contract extension with the New York Giants for tight end Jeremy Shockey.
The deal is worth about $26.4 million, including a $3 million signing bonus and another $7.5 million bonus due in March. The contract runs through the 2011 season. Shockey's previous contract was to run through the 2006 season, with salaries of $1.7 million this season and $2 million next season.
R. Williams Practices
Tailback Ricky Williams participated in the Miami Dolphins' practice Wednesday. He is returning from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, that on the heels of sitting out last season after informing the Dolphins just before training camp that he was retiring.
Rookie Ronnie Brown likely will remain the Dolphins' primary ball carrier Sunday at Tampa but Williams is slated to get some carries and perhaps will line up in the same backfield with Brown at times. . . .
The Dolphins signed wide receiver Cliff Russell and defensive tackle Josh Shaw and released defensive tackle Tim McGill. . . .
Buccaneers rookie tailback Carnell (Cadillac) Williams practiced Wednesday and could return to the lineup against the Dolphins. He sat out last weekend's loss to the New York Jets because of foot and hamstring injuries. . . .
Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber plans to appeal the $30,000 fine he was assessed by the league Wednesday for inadvertently punching an official during the Jets game. . . .
Tailback Julius Jones's sprained ankle kept him out of the Dallas Cowboys' practice Wednesday. It's unclear if he'll be able to play Sunday against the Giants at Texas Stadium. . . .
Tailbacks Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster missed the Carolina Panthers' practice because of knee injuries. . . .
The Saints placed tailback Deuce McAllister on the injured reserve list, officially ending his season because of the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that he suffered during last Sunday's defeat at Green Bay. The Saints signed safety Siddeeq Shabazz to take McAllister's roster spot. . . .
Saints wide receiver Joe Horn practiced Wednesday and likely will return to the lineup this weekend after missing two games because of a strained hamstring muscle. . . .
Buffalo placed defensive tackle Ron Edwards, who underwent shoulder surgery last week, on the IR list. The Bills signed defensive tackle Jason Jefferson off Philadelphia's practice squad. . . .
The Falcons put middle linebacker Edgerton Hartwell and cornerback Chris Cash on IR. Hartwell suffered a torn Achilles' tendon last weekend, and Cash broke his arm. . . .
San Francisco linebacker Jeff Ulbrich is headed to the IR list after he undergoes surgery today to repair a ruptured biceps muscle in his left arm suffered during Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts. . . .
Chicago released kicker Doug Brien, the postseason goat for the Jets last season, and handed its kicking job to Robbie Gould. . . .
The Eagles re-signed wide receiver Darnerien McCants.