BALTIMORE -- Ben Roethlisberger experienced post-concussion headaches after he practiced the past week and the Steelers are left with one large headache of their own for their game against the Ravens tonight.
Dennis Dixon will make his first NFL start at quarterback against Baltimore, the Steelers announced late yesterday. Tyler Palko, who practiced with the team for the first time Thursday, was signed from the practice squad yesterday and will serve as No. 2, replacing injured backup Charlie Batch.
Though Roethlisberger was judged not well enough to start tonight, the Steelers announced he would suit up as the No. 3 quarterback, which means he will be available to play. Doctors were scheduled to test him today one last time.
The Steelers, who have lost two games in a row, are 6-4 and one game behind Cincinnati in the AFC North. Baltimore is third at 5-5.
Roethlisberger left the game at Kansas City last Sunday with what were described as concussion-like symptoms after a blow to his head. Those symptoms disappeared the next day.
Roethlisberger said in interviews Thursday after practice that he felt fine, that he passed every test doctors gave him and would start against the Ravens, but he began having some headaches after his first practice Wednesday and they continued throughout the week.
"The doctors have all taken about a thousand tests, and I passed them all with flying colors, so that's the good news," he said. "If they tell me we need another one, just to keep doing it, I'll keep doing it."
Dixon took most of the snaps in practice Friday, however, while Roethlisberger took a few here and there. The decision not to start him was made yesterday after Dr. Joseph Maroon, the Steelers' renowned neurosurgeon, took a look.
Veteran receiver Shaun McDonald was released to make room for Palko on the 53-man roster.
The Steelers spent last week installing a game plan for Roethlisberger because they felt he would start. Dixon has thrown one pass in the NFL in his two seasons but has not taken a snap this year other than in the preseason.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .