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Steelers expect Maddox to start throwing Friday

Three days after getting the scare of his life, Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox became a football player again. He rode an exercise bike, hugged his teammates, tossed a football casually, attended the daily quarterbacks meeting and began plowing through 1,000 e-mails sent him by relieved and appreciative fans.

Maddox only watched Wednesday but is expected to begin throwing to the receivers in practice by Friday. Cowher said Maddox looked so good, he didn't hesitate to mention the three interceptions Maddox threw before being injured in Sunday's 31-23 loss to Tennessee.

"He said he was fine _ and I made sure he was fine before I sat down to talk with him about the game and some of the bad throws he made," Cowher said. "But it's really good to have him back."

Maddox shows no fear about playing again. The emotion he showed while meeting with reporters _ tears welling and voice quaking _ came when he talked about the hundreds of phone calls and thousands of get-well wishes his family has received.

"I'm anxious to see what I can do, anxious to get back on the horse. This is what I do, and this is what I love to do," he said. "I don't remember the hit, but I've seen the hit, and I've been hit a lot harder. I've probably been hit where it looked a lot worse, and that was my only question: Why this hit? I don't know if they have an explanation for that."

COLTS: Running back Edgerrin James is questionable for Sunday night's game at Denver with a sprained right ankle. The team also placed safety Cory Bird on injured reserve with a hip injury.

COWBOYS: Emmitt Smith has spoken to owner Jerry Jones and coach Dave Campo about his diminishing role. Smith said he was satisfied after talking to Jones and Campo, but the NFL's career rushing leader refused to go into detail about what was said. Offensive lineman Darnell Alford was claimed off waivers from the Jets.