On the Steelers: Roethlisberger's foot broken, not sprained

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Turns out the "sprained" right foot of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger actually is broken.

The fifth metatarsal bone or the outside metatarsal on Roethlisberger's right foot is broken, the Post-Gazette has learned. It was a previous break that was re-injured in the first quarter of Sunday's game in Buffalo.

The Steelers, who had been listing the foot as sprained, issued a clarification Thursday, reporting that "Ben's current injury is an aggravation of an old injury where scar tissue is present."

Roethlisberger went through another limited practice Thursday and has said he fully expects to play Sunday night in Baltimore. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said that Roethlisberger's injury should not curtail anything he does on the field in Baltimore.

"He just has to know what he can do to protect himself," Arians said after watching Roethlisberger practice for the second day in a row. "I feel confident he'll be fine that way. But we won't change a thing."

Steelers trainer John Norwig has retrofitted a football shoe with two metal plates to help protect the broken foot and also provide support. Once he steps out of his shoes, Roethlisberger limps heavily around the locker room.

Roethlisberger has not missed a snap since he returned from a four-game suspension to start the season. His foot was X-rayed at halftime Sunday in Buffalo and he remained in the game.

The quarterback also slightly injured his right knee after he was roughed up by two Buffalo Bills defenders who sacked him in the third quarter and did not stop after Roethlisberger hit the ground.

Those two players, linebacker Arthur Moats and defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, could be fined by the league, which announces most of its fines today.

"That's the thing we sent in," teammate Antwaan Randle El said of tapes the Steelers sent to the league about that play, which drew no flag. "And of course they'll say something like, 'Oh, we missed it, we'll get it the next time,' or 'yeah it should have been flagged.' Well it always seems like it should have been flagged, seems like for us, especially when it comes to him. We know he's a tough guy and everything but at the same time no quarterback should be treated like that."

Harrison one of the best

Amid the uproar over fines by the NFL for his hits, penalties against him on the field and the fairness of it all, linebacker James Harrison has had another Pro Bowl-like season.

"James has a good year every year," said defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. "He's never had anything but a good year. This is one of his best."

Harrison leads the team with 10 sacks, becoming the first player to have at least 10 three seasons in a row with the Steelers. He also leads them with 22 quarterback pressures and six forced fumbles. He's one forced fumble from tying his team record of seven from 2008; Greg Lloyd also had seven in 1994. Harrison already has three of the top five seasons for forced fumbles in team history.

"He has to be one of the best in the business at forcing fumbles -- running backs or quarterbacks," said linebacker James Farrior. "He just has a knack for getting the ball out."

Harrison already has equaled his sack total from last season and has a 3 1/2 sack lead over LaMarr Woodley, second on the team.

"He's having a great football season," said defensive lineman Chris Hoke. "You watch him on film and what he brings to this defense -- his intensity, his hard-hitting -- that's kind of the personality of our defense."

Larry Foote, who left the Steelers for one season in 2009, sees the same Harrison he saw in '08, when he earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"Me and Farrior were talking about it on our radio show, he should be stepping into that Hall of Fame career if he stays healthy, even though he had a late start."

Harrison wishes his play on the field weren't overshadowed by all the talk surrounding his fines and penalties.

"You can punch my name in right now and the first thing that comes up is $125,000 in fines," he said of doing a computer search. "It won't come up the fact that I'm double-digit sacks for the third year in a row or that I've forced six fumbles."

Changing targets

As a result of a crackdown by the NFL on "illegal" tackles, the Steelers are coaching their defensive players to lower their targets when they tackle.

"We're trying to get everybody down, that's what they want," LeBeau said. "We're trying to get the target lowered. We're doing the best we can and we'll keep working on it.

"You can't go too low, that's a foul too but you can't go too high, that's a foul, so we're trying to shoot right below the bottom of the numbers. I think we're making some progress."

For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com .

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