Quarterback Bubby Brister returned to practice yesterday for the first time since being lifted in the third quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 23-20 loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 14. He sat out the Steelers' past three games with a torn ligament in his right knee while Neil O'Donnell (Maryland) started at quarterback.
O'Donnell bruised a hip in the Steelers' 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos, but is expected to make his fourth NFL start Sunday at Cincinnati. The Steelers are 0-3 with O'Donnell starting, but he has earned praise from coach Chuck Noll.
Meanwhile, Noll's reluctance to play rookie wide receivers Jeff Graham and Ernie Mills apparently has created another rift between the Steelers' coaching staff and player personnel department.
Noll doesn't plan to give second-round draft pick Graham and third-rounder Mills more playing time. But player personnel director Dick Haley and director of football development Tom Donahoe both say Graham should be playing.
Noll apparently remains unhappy that Graham and Mills both missed most of training camp because of contract holdouts and that Graham reported with a thigh injury that further delayed his progress.
* CARDINALS: Phoenix claimed quarterback Chris Chandler on waivers from Tampa Bay, which released the fourth-year pro one day earlier. To make room, the Cardinals waived quarterback Craig Kupp. Chandler, 26, a third-round draft pick of the Colts in 1988, will back up Tom Tupa and Stan Gelbaugh (Maryland).
* SAINTS: Quarterback Bobby Hebert won't know until later in the week how much time he will miss with a damaged right rotator cuff. He did not rule out the possibility of playing against San Francisco on Sunday.
* PACKERS: Quarterback Don Majkowski, knocked out of Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, joined the rest of the team for practice and said afterward he felt "OK." Coach Lindy Infante had said earlier that Majkowski was doubtful for Sunday's game against the Bills. Now the Packers say he is questionable, meaning he has a 50 percent chance of playing.
* RAIDERS: Running back Marcus Allen, out with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament since Sept. 1, said he's ready to return for Sunday's game against Denver.
* NFL Players Association official Doug Allen said that he doesn't expect the owners' latest contract offer to be accepted. The settlement offer, which contains some free agency provisions, was made recently to lawyers representing players who have filed antitrust suits seeking free agency against the league.