Steelers Notebook: Okobi, Townsend recover from injuries, rejoin practice
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Steelers welcomed two injured players back to full-time practice yesterday. Backup Chukky Okobi, who had neck surgery the second week of training camp, and cornerback Deshea Townsend, whose right thumb was broken two weeks ago, could each play in the final exhibition game Thursday night against Carolina at Heinz Field.
"If I practice, I'm ready to play," Townsend said. "Even if it's Carolina, if they want me to play I'll play."
Okobi downplayed talk of making a miracle comeback. The day before Dr. Joseph Maroon performed a diskectomy on his neck, coach Bill Cowher warned it could be career-threatening.
"I don't anticipate any problems," Okobi said. "Dr. Maroon told me everything should be fine. It's probably a 2, 3 percent chance of happening in the first place. It's not a typical injury. The chance of reinjuring it is about the same. So if I reinjure it, that just means I'm cursed."
Okobi does not expect any of his defensive linemen to go easy on him as he returns to practice.
"They might be, but they'll see very quickly that's a mistake."
Hines Ward did not practice again but he had some good news. An MRI Saturday on the hamstring injury that has kept him out most of the summer and each of the three preseason games showed more healing.
Still, he won't play in the game Thursday.
"I am getting better, but I'm not going to force it for one series," Ward said. "We don't need to do that, but it is getting better. I'm encouraged. It just takes time but it felt better."
Ward ran again yesterday and said he will use this week to get his leg better so he can play against Miami in the opener Sept. 7.