LANDOVER, Md. -- The Steelers made the decision 24 hours before the start of their preseason game last night that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would not play against the Washington Redskins. And he didn't, allowing Charlie Batch to start with the first-team offense and get significantly more playing time that he did in the preseason opener.
Coach Mike Tomlin decided during a coaches meeting at the team hotel Friday night that Roethlisberger, who sustained an undisclosed injury to his right foot, would not play against the Redskins -- unless he made a rapid recovery. Even at that, there was no need to risk further injury to their $100 million quarterback, especially on a wet, slick field in a meaningless game.
Nonetheless, the Steelers do not believe Roethlisberger's injury is serious, although they still have not made any official announcement on its nature or severity.
Roethlisberger was injured with 30 minutes remaining in practice Thursday -- the final practice at Saint Vincent College this preseason -- when 345-pound tackle Max Starks fell into his right leg while trying to block outside linebacker James Harrison. The injury is not believed to be serious
Batch appeared for six plays against Arizona, completing 1 of 2 passes for 45 yards, but against the Redskins he played the first three series, completing 5 of 14 passes for 63 yards. He led the first-team offense to its first touchdown of the preseason when he completed three passes for 50 yards on a drive that resulted in Willie Parker's 3-yard touchdown run.
It was a good workout for Batch, who missed the entire 2008 season when his right collarbone was broken in the first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Doug Legursky, who filled in at center for most of training camp while starter Justin Hartwig recovered from a broken right big toe, made his first start at left guard last night. He replaced starter Chris Kemoeatu, who was held out because of a rib injury that prevented him from practicing Thursday.
It was an opportunity for the Steelers to see Legursky, a first-year pro from Marshall, play guard. The Steelers prefer their backup offensive linemen play more than one position and, with Darnell Stapleton still sidelined following knee surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago, they would like to find someone who can play both guard and center, as Stapleton has done.
Legursky also played some center and had a bad snap in the shotgun to Dennis Dixon, who recovered it.
The Steelers also did not dress two running backs, veteran Mewelde Moore and rookie Frank Summers. Moore has been out since early in training camp with a hamstring injury. Summers has a groin injury.
The scratch took yet another opportunity away from Summers, a fifth-round draft choice from Nevada-Las Vegas. Although drafted because of his size (5 feet 10, 240 pounds) and ability to get the short yardage, he has been outshone by undrafted rookie Isaac Redman.
Parker got the call in the first short-yardage situation last night. With a first down at Washington's 3 on their second offensive series, the Steelers opted to pass and Batch threw incomplete to Heath Miller. On the next play, Parker took the ball on a sweep right and scored.
Rookie Mike Wallace was deployed early when the Steelers went to three wide receivers on offense. They had been using Limas Sweed in that role, but the coaches likely wanted to see how the rookie would do with the first team.
Batch tossed him a deep pass early, from the Washington 37 into the end zone, but the ball landed out of bounds on the left with the speedy Wallace unable to make a play. It was the only pass thrown to him while with the first-team offense.
The first time he touched the ball occurred from the 10 with the second team when Dixon handed off to him on an end-around and Wallace gained 3 yards.
Wallace caught two passes from Dixon in the second quarter, one for 11 and his second for 12 that gave the Steelers a first down at the Redskins' 49 with two minutes to go in the first half.