Bubby Brister was told yesterday by coach Chuck Noll to rest his aching right knee for at least two weeks, making Neil O'Donnell the Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback -- for now.
O'Donnell, a Maryland alum who rallied the Steelers from a 20-0 ** deficit to a fourth-quarter tie in Monday's 23-20 loss to the New York Giants, will start at least twice, Sunday's home game against the Seattle Seahawks and the Oct. 27 road game against the Cleveland Browns, according to Brister.
Brister said he may have reaggravated his sprained right knee against the Giants and agreed that O'Donnell should be playing.
"It's cool with me," Brister said. "I probably pushed it too far last week."
Noll declined to name a starter, and he fumed at the mention that Brister broke what should have been a secret to the Pittsburgh press contingent during a break from practice.
"Bubby's making the releases, is he?" Noll said. "I want to keep you guys [the reporters] in the dark."
* EAGLES: The team claimed 11-year veteran quarterback Jeff Kemp and waived backup Pat Ryan.
Kemp, 32, waived by the Seahawks on Tuesday, has the NFL's lowest rating, 52.9, and a league-high 12 interceptions.
The Eagles, with Randall Cunningham and Jim McMahon missing from action, have lost to the Redskins, Buccaneers and Saints.
Coach Rich Kotite said he expects McMahon to play in the next game, Oct. 27 against the 49ers.
* SEAHAWKS: Coach Chuck Knox indicated that running back Derrick Fenner, gaining 3.1 yards a carry, would be benched this week in favor of Chris Warren.
* PACKERS: The club was aware of a drug investigation that involved linebacker Tim Harris before he was traded to the 49ers on Sept. 30, Brown County (Wis.) Sheriff Leon Pieschek said.
Pieschek said the probe had resulted in no charges. A top Packers official said he knew nothing of the drug investigation.
* GIANTS: A lawyer for linebacker Steve DeOssie entered an innocent plea for his client, who was arrested last month on a misdemeanor drug charge, a Grapevine (Texas) Municipal Court official said.
* A man whose arrest led to the trial and acquittal of former NFL place-kicker Donald Igwebuike on heroin-smuggling charges has been sentenced to five years in prison, the minimum mandatory term.
Maduwuba Oluchukwu Ibekwe, 31, pleaded guilty in April to smuggling more than a half-pound of heroin from his native Nigeria into Orlando, Fla.
* RAIDERS: Tailback Marcus Allen, who has missed six games because of a knee injury, will be sidelined for at least one more week.