Ben Roethlisberger, Brian Cushing, and Santonio Holmes are among seven players eligible to return this week after serving four-game suspensions.
Two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Roethlisberger returned to the Steelers yesterday. He was suspended for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Cushing, the 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year, returns to the Texans after being suspended for use of performance-enhancing drugs, as were Titans linebacker Gerald McRath and Falcons linebacker Robert James.
Holmes, a receiver with the Jets, Bills tight end Shawn Nelson, and Broncos running back LenDale White were sidelined for substance abuse. White is on injured reserve and out for the season.
Roethlisberger exchanged hugs and smiles with teammates and team employees. Although the Steelers don’t play again until Oct. 17 against Cleveland, Roethlisberger quickly settled back into a routine — offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had drawn-up plays waiting for him to review.
“I couldn’t wait to get here,’’ Roethlisberger said.
While the Steelers were a half-minute away from going 4-0 before losing to Baltimore, 17-14, Sunday, their offense wasn’t the same without the two-time Super Bowl winner. The Steelers are a much-improved No. 7 in rushing (133.5 yards per game), but are only 30th in passing. They’re throwing for about 200 yards per game fewer than NFL-leading Denver.
Roethlisberger was accused of, but not charged with, sexually assaulting a Georgia college student following a night of drinking in a college bar March 5. Despite not being charged, he was suspended under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Cushing was not available for comment but coach Gary Kubiak said he’ll play in Sunday’s game against the Giants. Cushing was suspended in May for testing positive for HCG, a fertility drug that’s on the NFL’s banned substances list. HCG can be used to mask steroid use.
The Jets waived wide receivers David Clowney and Patrick Turner to make roster room for Holmes, and re-signed defensive tackle Howard Green.
Cutler ‘feeling OK’
Bears coach Lovie Smith
sounded optimistic that quarterback Jay Cutler
will be back soon from his concussion, although he would not say just how severe the injury is.
Smith said Cutler was back at the practice facility and was “feeling OK’’ after sitting out the second half of a 17-3 loss Sunday night against the Giants. However, his status for Sunday’s game against Carolina is in question.
“Jay is here,’’ Smith said. “It seemed like he was in pretty good shape right now. There are no visual signs or anything that I could tell. I try not to be the doctor, and I leave that to other people. It seems like he’s OK today.’’
Smith said the Bears started noticing symptoms after the second-to-last play of the second quarter, when Cutler’s head banged the turf while being taken down by Aaron Ross on the Giants’ ninth sack. The Bears then went with a run by Chester Taylor, and Todd Collins replaced Cutler to start the third quarter.
On a night when the Bears wound up allowing 10 sacks, their most ever, Cutler absorbed more than a few big hits by the time Ross got to him late in the first half. He hung on to the ball too long at times, in an effort to make plays that just weren’t there, and the result was more hits from a relentless defense.
“As I said, when we thought something was going on was after that last sack that he took right before the half,’’ Smith said. “That’s when he showed the symptoms of a concussion, and we did something about it.’’ He would not elaborate on those symptoms.
Vick out 2 weeks?
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick
suffered a rib cartilage injury during Sunday’s 17-12 loss to the Redskins, but he said he is hopeful he won’t miss more than two weeks. “There is some cartilage damage up in there and a small fracture, so maybe a week, maybe two weeks. We’ll have to see,’’ Vick told a Philadelphia radio station last night. Kevin Kolb
, who began the season as the Eagles’ No. 1 quarterback, will start if Vick can’t play, beginning with Sunday’s game against San Francisco. Vick wasn’t the only one hurt against the Redskins. Running back LeSean McCoy
broke a rib during the first half but played through it. His status also is uncertain. Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel
and wide receiver Riley Cooper
sustained mild concussions . . . Jets coach Rex Ryan
said for the first time that he would have tried to bring Brett Favre
out of retirement last year to play another season in New York if the team hadn’t drafted Mark Sanchez
. “There would have been some major recruiting done,’’ Ryan said. “I can say that absolutely. And, maybe no one knows it or whatever, but I can promise you that’s how I was feeling.’’ Favre briefly retired after playing with New York in 2008, when he injured his shoulder down the stretch and slumped. After Ryan was hired as coach, he hoped Favre would stick around. Instead, Favre retired, was granted his release by the Jets, and eventually unretired — again — and signed with Minnesota.
Chargers strong safety Steve Gregory
was suspended by the NFL for four games without pay for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Neither the NFL nor Gregory said what substance the player tested positive for. “I was completely shocked to find out about this positive test from May during the offseason,’’ Gregory said in a statement. “I have never knowingly used any form of performance-enhancing substance.’’ The Chargers also announced outside linebacker Jyles Tucker
was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, ending his season . . . Packers
rookie safety Morgan Burnett
will miss the rest of the season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in the victory over Detroit . . . Titans rookie defensive end Derrick Morgan
tore his left anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the rest of the season . . . The NFL fined Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil
$40,000 for his obscene gesture at game officials during Tennessee’s 26-20 loss to the Broncos. Television cameras caught Cecil using his right hand to make the gesture when officials flagged his defense for a neutral-zone infraction during the second quarter Sunday . . . The winless Panthers are likely without top receiver Steve Smith
for at least one game because of an ankle sprain. Smith was limping noticeably yesterday and wearing a protective boot . . . Bills starting cornerback Terrence McGee
will miss at least the next two weeks because of a surgical procedure performed last week on his left leg . . . The 49ers released Michael Lewis
, two days after the veteran safety reportedly requested his release. Lewis did not travel with the team to Atlanta for Sunday’s game after leaving the team Friday for what coach Mike Singletary
deemed personal reasons . . . Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill
will be suspended for one game and fined one additional paycheck for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Hill will be able to serve the punishment despite being on injured reserve with an Achilles’ injury that will require surgery. Hill was arrested this spring on a domestic violence charge . . . Vikings
defensive end Jared Allen
has been told by the NFL to rein in his calf-roping act after getting a sack. Allen said he found out his signature celebration is against league rules because his knee touches the turf while doing it.
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