The National Football League (NFL) season opens Thursday night when the Miami Dolphins take on the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

The host Steelers will be without star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who underwent an emergency appendectomy Sunday. Roethlisberger appears fully recovered from a June motorcycle accident that broke his nose and left him with a concussion.

Charlie Batch will start at quarterback for Pittsburgh. Last season, Batch started two games when Roethlisberger was sidelined and completed 22 of 35 passes for 215 yards and no touchdowns.

Miami counters with former Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who was traded to the Dolphins for a second round draft pick this off-season. Culpepper is a three-time Pro Bowl selection. He tore three ligaments in his right knee last year, but appears to be fully recovered. Miami is expected to be a Super Bowl contender this season.

Twenty-six NFL teams will see their first action on Sunday, and there will be two Monday night football games.