Brian Griese is the new heir apparent to John Elway with his promotion yesterday as the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback ahead of Bubby Brister.

"It is not that Bubby Brister has not played at the level I think he can," Coach Mike Shanahan said. "It's that Brian Griese has played so well throughout camp and preseason games that I think he deserves that opportunity.

"All blame doesn't go to one person," Shanahan said.

Brister inherited the job after winning four straight games as a starter last year when Elway was out with assorted injuries.

The 37-year-old Brister has struggled in the preseason, however, twice throwing interceptions on his first pass attempt of a game.

The two-time Super Bowl champions are 2-2 in preseason.

Griese, 24, who led Michigan to a Rose Bowl victory and a shared national championship in 1998, has never started an NFL game. He is the son of Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese of the Miami Dolphins.

DOLPHINS: Enigmatic Dimitrius Underwood is becoming predictable. The rookie defensive end failed to show yesterday for his first practice, which didn't surprise his family and didn't seem to bother Coach Jimmy Johnson.

Underwood, who left the Minnesota Vikings unannounced to focus on his religion, was claimed off waivers Aug. 16 by the Dolphins and agreed to report for practice Monday. But he failed to make his flight Sunday night from Michigan to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"He missed the plane," said his sister, Andrea. "That's the norm. I've never known Dimitrius to catch the plane he's supposed to catch. I wouldn't get alarmed at that."

Underwood caught a later flight, arrived Monday night and was expected for practice Tuesday. Johnson shrugged off the situation, despite renewed doubts about the rookie's commitment to a football career.

"You've got to understand our motive here," Johnson said. "Our whole thought process was to get an outstanding talent for the future. It would have been fine with me if he had reported next year.

"We feel he's going to want to play football eventually. We just didn't know when."

STEELERS: Running back Jerome Bettis resumed practicing, nearly a month after undergoing his second arthroscopic knee operation in seven months. Bettis, who has gained at least 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons in Pittsburgh, still isn't certain whether he will play in the Sept. 12 opener at Cleveland.

BENGALS: Cincinnati safety Kelvin Moore is able to get out of his hospital bed and walk with help from physical therapists as he recovers from a broken bone in his neck, the team said.

Moore, 24, suffered the career-threatening injury Aug. 20 in Pontiac, Mich., as he tackled a Detroit Lions player in a preseason game. The injury was diagnosed as a fractured vertebra in his neck.

Moore has feeling in his arms and legs and is expected to make a full recovery, said Robert Heidt Jr., the Bengals' team physician. It is not known whether Moore will ever play football again.

TITANS: Steve McNair practiced for the second straight day, and Tennessee Coach Jeff Fisher said the quarterback likely will start the Titans' final preseason game Thursday. McNair missed last week's game with a bad back.

RAMS: St. Louis traded backup tight end Mitch Jacoby to the Kansas City Chiefs for an undisclosed draft pick. The Rams also put quarterback Trent Green and center John Flannery on injured reserve. Both will miss the entire season.

49ERS 16, RAIDERS 8: It was taken as seriously as a preseason game can be, at least by Oakland and its fans. Given a chance to show their stuff against San Francisco, their more glamorous and successful cross-bay rival, the Raiders couldn't prevent second-half scoring passes by Jim Druckenmiller and Jeff Garcia.

"There's a lot of excitement for football in this city," San Francisco linebacker Ken Norton Jr. said. "It was electric. It was fun. It sure didn't feel like a preseason game. This felt real."