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Steelers safety feeling fine after workout

Not everything was a loss for Steelers safety Ryan Clark during his trip to Denver.

His team won despite Clark sitting out because of the possibility of complications with his sickle-cell trait in the high altitude.

But just as important to Clark, he may have got the peace of mind he needed if the Steelers have to make a return trip to Denver in January for the playoffs.

Clark said Wednesday that he worked out before the game Monday and had tests done to see how his body reacted to the thin air after having his spleen and gall bladder removed two years ago.

He passed all the administered tests, although the level of exertion wasn't close to what he would experience during games.

So does that mean he can play in Denver the next time?

"I'm not sure," Clark said. "We haven't really talked about it. If we meet again I just hope it's in Pittsburgh. That's my only wish."

Both Denver and the Steelers have a 6-2 record at the midway point, with the Steelers holding the tiebreaker by virtue of Monday's victory. But it is still conceivable that the Steelers could be forced to go back to Denver, especially if the Broncos win the division and the Steelers finish second behind Cincinnati and claim the wild card.

· Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons practiced Wednesday, and he could return to the starting lineup Sunday when the Steelers host the Bengals with first place on the line in the AFC North. Timmons missed the Steelers' game Monday night because of a sprained ankle. Starting defensive end Travis Kirschke (calf strain) also didn't play in Denver, and the 13th-year veteran did not practice yesterday. Also missing practice were fullback Carey Davis, who is not expected to play Sunday because of a bad hamstring, as well as starting right guard Trai Essex, who was sick. Wide receiver Hines Ward, linebacker James Farrior and cornerback Deshea Townsend were given practice off.

· A number of Steelers wore black baseball caps with U.S. Army stitched across the front of them after practice in observance of Veterans Day. Like many of his teammates, defensive end Brett Keisel has a close relative that is serving or has served overseas.

Keisel said he has a nephew that has done a tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Offensive line coach Larry Zierlein is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and he served in Vietnam in 1967.

"I've got a lot of love for those guys," Keisel said of veterans and active members of the military. "The reason we have it so good over here is because we have great military."

· Tyrone Carter, who intercepted a pair of passes in the Steelers' 28-10 win over the Broncos, has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Carter started at free safety for Clark, and scored the Steelers' first touchdown on a 48-yard interception return.

DIGITS

18 — Touchdowns in 23 possessions Cincinnati has scored in the red zone.

16 — Touchdowns in 27 possessions the Steelers have scored in the red zone.

QUOTABLE

"This is the NFL. Every single week there are going to be opponents that are going to step up. That is the great thing about this league. Every single year, things change. It is not consistent. It is not like college football, where you can say Florida is No. 1 or that Texas is going to be in the top five. This league changes because there is a high turnover rate, a high transition rate. Teams change. Teams don't stay the same, except for Cleveland." — Steelers left tackle Max Starks, when asked if it is fun to have Cincinnati as a player in the division to go along with Baltimore.

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