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Roethlisberger admits fear of serious foot injury but says he's OK

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger says he feared he was seriously injured last week after he heard a popping sound when teammate Max Starks accidentally stepped on the Steelers quarterback's right foot during practice.

"It is a pretty scary thing to have a 300-pound guy step on the back of your foot, on your Achilles," Roethlisberger said Wednesday while discussing the injury for the first time. "He went down, too, so you know he didn't just graze it."

Roethlisberger apparently bruised his Achilles' tendon -- the team hasn't disclosed the exact nature of the injury -- during the final half-hour of the Steelers' final training-camp practice at Saint Vincent College on Thursday.

While he limped badly after being knocked over by Starks, a 340-pound left tackle, Roethlisberger wasn't rushed off the field for treatment, as is commonly done with almost every significant injury. Roethlisberger was checked by trainers, who put an ice pack on the back of his foot, and he watched the rest of practice while sitting on an ice chest.

Roethlisberger missed Saturday's preseason game at Washington, but he returned to practice with the rest of his teammates Tuesday. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who never seemed worried about the injury, said the quarterback is "fine" and will play as long as the starters do -- possibly as long as a half -- in Saturday's preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.

Although Starks said minutes after the mishap that he heard no sound when Roethlisberger went down, the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback said there was a worrisome noise from his foot.

"Everyone thought they heard a pop, too," Roethlisberger said. "We didn't know what happened. Luckily it was a bruise. It's coming along. It's not 100 percent, but it's coming along."

Roethlisberger declined to say whether an MRI test was taken, as is usually done even with minor injuries. The tests are done so teams can be certain that an apparently minor injury isn't masking a more serious problem.

"I can't talk about what we've done," Roethlisberger said. "You know what? I'm up and walking, participating a little bit (in practice). I'm glad it wasn't (worse). ... We will continue to get better every day."

While his teammates are certain that Roethlisberger would have played against the Redskins had it been a regular-season game, he's not so sure.

"I'm glad it wasn't," he said. "I don't know. It would be one of those tough ones."

Roethlisberger doesn't blame Starks, who was shoved into the quarterback while linebacker James Harrison was trying to get around the tackle at the line of scrimmage.

"No need (for an apology)," Roethlisberger said. "It was a total accident."

The Steelers already seem eager to get at another team, although they have practiced just two days at their Pittsburgh training complex since camp ended. Wednesday's two-hour practice ended with a scrap between Harrison and offensive lineman Jeremy Parquet, although wide receiver Hines Ward insisted the workout didn't end because of the skirmish.

Defensive lineman Casey Hampton joked afterward that Harrison is overrated as a fighter despite his tough-guy reputation, but Ward said, "I'm not going to be the one to say that."

"You're going against the same person, tempers flare, so don't make much of it," Ward said. "Tomorrow, they'll be talking again and they'll all be trying to get back and get right."

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