Ben Roethlisberger and Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey have been diagnosed with high-ankle sprains that could have turned out a lot worse.
Pouncey said his sprain is not nearly as bad as the one that kept him out of Super Bowl XLV and expects to play Monday night in San Francisco.
Roethlisberger and Pouncey each have Grade 1 ankle sprains -- the least damaging type of sprain (Grade 3 is the most severe). But, unlike Pouncey, who was injured in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns and did not return, Roethlisberger returned to the game in the second half.
Pouncey made the same "I will play" declaration before the Super Bowl, even though the coaches and trainers knew he wasn't going to play. Pouncey injured the same ankle in the AFC championship game against the New York Jets.
But he said this is different.
"That was terrible the first time," Pouncey said Monday after receiving treatment on his ankle. "It's nowhere near that there. That was season ending. This is not."
Roethlisberger did not attend practice and was not available afterward in the locker room. He was told to wear a protective boot on his left ankle and, according to his agent, "will need rest."
"We'll be fine," Pouncey said, "But his is pretty serious."
None of the Steelers, though, would even begin to consider the possibility of Roethlisberger not playing. Not after what they witnessed against the Browns.
"Ben's a different breed," inside linebacker James Farrior said. "There's no telling what he's going to do."
Pouncey is no longer wearing a boot and said his injury already feels much better than it did Thursday night.
"I feel like I can do a little something on it," Pouncey said. "It just needs the right rest, the right rehab to it, right now."
"It's a sprain, but it will be fine. It could be worse; it could be a lot worse, actually."
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders did not play against the Browns because he has developed inflammation in his surgically repaired right foot, and it might be a while before he returns.
The Steelers are being cautious with Sanders, who had surgery on both feet during the offseason, and don't want to use him again until they are sure he is totally healthy. They don't want the problem to recur in the postseason.