Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin seem to be at odds over the extent of the quarterback's high ankle sprain and whether he came through the Cleveland game no worse for the wear.
Roethlisberger said Wednesday he had a setback Sunday in Cleveland. This came after Tomlin said Tuesday that he didn't have a setback and proclaimed his quarterback's ankle "OK."
Perhaps it's merely semantics, or a coach not wanting to give more information than required. This wouldn't be the first time Roethlisberger and his coach had a public difference of opinion over an injury. When Bill Cowher coached him, there were several, starting with the case of some broken toes in the 2004 AFC championship game.
Whatever it is, Roethlisberger didn't practice Wednesday and again hobbled heavily on his injured left ankle.
"I felt really good going in the Cleveland game," Roethlisberger said. "I had a little setback early in the third quarter, so we're working really hard right now with the trainers and doctors to get back to even where we were before the Cleveland game.
"Because I felt pretty good going in, I moved [around] a little bit at the beginning of that game, but [there was] a little setback. ... We got set back by about a week."
Roethlisberger played the entire game in Cleveland after sitting out the previous week against St. Louis. The injury occurred Dec. 8 in the second quarter against Cleveland. He finished that game and played Dec. 19 in San Francisco, a 20-3 loss.
In his past two games, Roethlisberger has completed 48 of 84 passes for 551 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions, which dragged down his passer rating for the season to 90.1.
Roethlisberger wasn't sure how he reinjured his left ankle in Cleveland. "I don't know if I caught it on the ground wrong or got hit."
At Tomlin's news conference, the coach was asked if he would characterize Roethlisberger's injury as no worse this week.
"Certainly, I would characterize it as no worse," Tomlin said. "I have yet to see him, of course, today. We will see how he is moving forward. I mentioned [the injured ankle] because of protocol, to be quite honest with you. You have to acknowledge existing injuries, moving forward, it is NFL protocol. I am not overly concerned about his physical state and preparation for this game."
Isaac Redman cannot remember when Tomlin finally called him by his real name, but the coach knows it now, and Redman has a chance to let even more people know his name when he starts at halfback Sunday.
"Hopefully, you'll see a running back who is capable of being a No. 1 running back in this league and capable of helping a team go to the Super Bowl," Redman said. "This is a big move, it's kind of where you want to be in this league at this time of the year. It's either win or go home."
Redman, the team's second-leading rusher with 479 yards and a 4.4-yard average, had the most productive day of his two-year NFL career Sunday after Rashard Mendenhall's season ended with a torn ACL. Redman had 92 yards on 19 carries, a touchdown and two lost fumbles.
He ultimately made the practice squad in 2009 as an undrafted rookie free agent from Bowie (Md.) State, which plays football in Division II. He made his first impression in training camp when he kept scoring on goal-line drills and Tomlin kept giving him the ball.
Redman remembered that day at Saint Vincent College vividly, recalling that he carried seven consecutive times.
"I said this is my time to make a name for myself. Coach Tomlin was calling me 'Barlow' and 'Bowie' and 'Out of Shape.' He didn't call me by my name one time through the whole camp. I said, man, maybe coach Tomlin will call me 'Redman' after this."
He doesn't recall when he first called him by his right name but he's calling his name Sunday in Denver.
Through all the years of research and medical opinions on his health condition, Ryan Clark never heard the words he longed for. "Nobody's ever said, you're going to play and I can promise you nothing's going to happen. That was the one thing we were looking for, that I think coach Tomlin was looking to hear."
So, even though his doctors cleared Clark to play, Tomlin said no. Clark carries the sickle cell trait and the violent reaction his body had in Denver in 2007 was enough for Tomlin. Clark lost his spleen and gall bladder. What might be next, a heart attack?
"There's no doubt in my mind, I would have played," Clark said, if the decision were up to him. "Either way, it's a difficult situation. To not play with your teammates is a tough situation, but also to have to wonder after every play is over if you're going to be all right, if you are right, is also a stressful situation."
The Steelers listed Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey as limited in practice with ankle injuries.
Among those who did not practice were defensive end Brett Keisel (groin), linebacker James Harrison (toe), safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and two players not expected to play, cornerback Cortez Allen (shoulder) and running back Mewelde Moore (knee).
Polamalu has been listed on the injury report for three separate reasons the past three weeks -- a hamstring, a knee and a calf.
Two players who did not play Sunday returned for a full practice: guard/center Doug Legursky (shoulder) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring).
The Steelers placed rookie linebacker Chris Carter on injured reserve, ending his season. Carter missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. They signed rookie running back Chad Spann from their practice squad to add depth behind Redman and rookie John Clay. Spann joined the practice squad Dec. 12. He is listed as 5 feet 8, 202 pounds. They signed running back Albert Young, who played 10 games with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009-10, to the practice squad.
First Published January 5, 2012 5:00 AM