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At 4-7, Steelers' Cowher dismayed, but not giving up

There are several things Bill Cowher won't accept from his Steelers: not working hard in practice, looking toward next year rather than focusing on what remains of this one, and, most of all, giving up on the season.

The Steelers (4-7) have five games left, but they couldn't have expected to be so far out of playoff contention with more than a month of the season remaining.

"It certainly is not where we expected to be at this point, but we're going to deal with it and proceed," said Cowher, whose team next entertains the Bucs.

The Steelers' 27-0 loss Sunday at Baltimore exposed season-long weaknesses and ended any thoughts about staging another late-season rally and reaching the playoffs like last season.

Cowher also is dealing with a depleted roster. Two of his best players, wide receiver Hines Ward (knee surgery) and safety Troy Polamalu (sprained knee ligament), will miss Sunday's game against Tampa Bay (3-8) and possibly the Dec. 7 game against Cleveland (3-8).

CHIEFS: Running back Priest Holmes will not return this season, but general manager Carl Peterson said recent medical tests have been encouraging and Holmes hopes to return for the 2007 season. Tuesday was the last day the team could have activated him. Holmes hasn't played since Oct. 30, 2005, when he sustained head and neck trauma.

EAGLES: Donovan McNabb could be sidelined between eight and 12 months after having surgery to repair his right knee. The five-time Pro Bowl quarterback tore the anterior cruciate ligament in a loss to Tennessee on Nov. 19. It was his third season-ending injury in mid November in the past five years. Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said McNabb also needed expected repairs to his meniscus, fibers and cartilage in the knee. The team also learned it will be without long snapper Mike Bartrum for the rest of the season because of a neck injury.

JETS: Offensive lineman Adrian Jones apologized to the team and his family three days after being charged with driving while intoxicated. Jones, 25, was fined $20,000 by the team and will be monitored by the NFL as a first-time offender of its substance abuse policy. Jones was arrested about 4:45 a.m. Saturday about a mile from the team's training facility. A preliminary field sobriety test revealed a blood-alcohol reading of 0.22, police said.

RAIDERS: The team replaced offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, promoting tight ends coach John Shoop to take charge of the NFL's worst offense. Shoop was offensive coordinator for Chicago from 2001-03, helping the team post a 13-3 record and win the NFC Central in 2001. He has also worked for Tampa Bay (2004) and Carolina in his 12 years in the NFL.

BETTIS' DAD DIES: Johnnie Bettis, father of retired NFL running back and current TV commentator Jerome Bettis, died Tuesday at a suburban Detroit hospital, police said. Mr. Bettis, 61, of Detroit, apparently suffered a heart attack while driving in a suburb north of the city, police Lt. Carl Fuhs said.

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