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Cowher: Big Ben questionable Sunday, but ...

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger's second concussion in
slightly more than four months may not keep him out of the
Pittsburgh Steelers' lineup Sunday or prevent him from practicing
this week.

The Super Bowl-winning quarterback is questionable for Sunday's
game in Oakland, but Bill Cowher sounded Tuesday very much like a
coach who expects to have his starting quarterback ready to go this
week.

"He had an MRI done on his brain and neck, and both of those
came back normal," Cowher said. "We also did the concussion test,
and we're very encouraged by the results. We'll monitor his
progress as the week goes on, but again, I emphasize that we're
very encouraged by where he is."

Asked if Roethlisberger would practice Wednesday, Cowher said,
"We'll see how he feels."

Roethlisberger was briefly knocked unconscious during a
helmet-to-helmet hit with the Falcons' Chauncey Davis midway
through the third quarter of Pittsburgh's 41-38 overtime loss in
Atlanta. The injury came in Roethlisberger's best game of the
season -- he was 16-of-22 for 238 yards and three touchdowns.

Cowher expects the NFL to review the hit for a possible fine or
disciplinary action, as the league does with almost any play that
involves a quarterback's head injury.

Roethlisberger was woozy and appeared dazed a few minutes later
while being taken to the locker room on a motorized cart, but
returned later to watch the rest of the game on the sideline.

His replacement, Charlie Batch, threw two touchdown passes
during a day the Steelers passed for 413 yards in 60 minutes -- the
most they've had in a game in which their quarterback never stepped
on the field past the fourth quarter. Their only better passing day
was Tommy Maddox's 473-yard effort in the Steelers' previous game
against Atlanta, a 34-34 tie in 2002 that lasted 75 minutes.

Roethlisberger was deemed well enough to fly home on the team
plane Sunday night, and he drove his car to a team meeting Monday.
Later Monday, he met with a neurosurgeon and took the ImPACT
concussion test that many NFL teams use to determine the severity
of a concussion and when a player is fit to return.

The test measures a player's memory, attention, mental
processing speed and reaction time. The results are compared to
those taken when the player was healthy.

"He will take the test again later in the week to make sure he
is cleared medically before we would subject him to playing,"
Cowher said. "Again, it's too early to make a final decision on
that. We will definitely do so by taking all necessary precautions
to make sure he is cleared."

This is Roethlisberger's third significant medical-related
problem since June. He also sustained a concussion, and needed
seven hours of surgery mostly to repair facial injuries, when his
motorcycle collided with a car June 12 in Pittsburgh.

He also missed the Sept. 7 season opener against Miami after
needing an emergency appendectomy Sept. 3. He looked rusty after
returning, losing his first three starts, but has looked much
sharper the last two games by going 32-of-41 for 476 yards, five
touchdowns and no interceptions against the Chiefs and Falcons.

By contrast, he had seven interceptions and no touchdowns in his
first three starts.

Despite the Steelers' optimism about Roethlisberger's condition,
a football player receiving a second concussion in a relatively
brief time can be susceptible to succeeding concussions, according
to doctors who have studied the issue.

Also, a player receiving multiple concussions in a brief time
span may need a longer recovery time before playing again than one
coming off his initial concussion.

"I don't take these things lightly and I don't think anybody
should," Cowher said. "I think as coaches, we have to know where
our boundaries end. We have to leave that up to the people who are
professionals. ... If they're not cleared, they're not going to
play."

Several doctors that the Steelers (2-4) use to test their
players are those that helped develop the concussion tests and
analyze the data for the NFL. The tests also are being implemented
on the college and high school level, with several studies done in
the Pittsburgh area.

The Steelers' lengthy injury list includes four other starters
who are questionable: linebacker Joey Porter and nose tackle Casey
Hampton with hamstring injuries, Clark Haggans (ankle) and wide
receiver Cedrick Wilson (groin). Porter has missed the last two
games.

Linebacker James Harrison (ankle) and safety Mike Logan
(hamstring) are out, and rookie wide receiver Willie Reid (foot) is
doubtful.