On The Steelers: QB situation remains iffy
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Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's ankle is no worse than it was last week, he said, and others said he is getting around better than he did last week.
So, the decision should be easier for Mike Tomlin this week than it was to start his quarterback Monday night in San Francisco. But his decision could be a different one.
"I'm going to wait to hear from him," Roethlisberger said.
He did not practice Wednesday, is not expected to practice today and Friday is a light practice before a game Saturday against the St. Louis Rams at Heinz Field.
Once again, it appears Charlie Batch will handle the offense in practice, but who plays Saturday remains uncertain. NFL.com reporter Jason LaCanfora wrote Wednesday on Twitter, "Steelers officials would be shocked if Ben plays this week. Fully expect him to rest at least one week. Mike Tomlin yet to reveal his decision."
While Roethlisberger wants to play, he acknowledged that his play probably suffered "a little bit" Monday night because of his injury, especially the high pass thrown to Heath Miller that was intercepted.
"If you go back and look, there was some times there were guys around my feet because I couldn't get as much depth on the drop. So I just couldn't step into some of the throws, and that I think was a factor a little bit ...
"It was very frustrating because I know that I could've made a couple more plays in that game, I know that I could've gotten out of a couple of those sacks. I know it. And it's very frustrating for me, and I know it's frustrating for the linemen and the receivers, because they're so used to it. So, it's definitely tough."
- Game: Steelers (10-4) vs. St. Louis Rams (2-12), Heinz Field.
- When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
- TV: WPGH.
He also admitted that rest would help his high left ankle sprain heal.
"I think if you rest you obviously can, hopefully, improve and get yourself to a higher percentage. But I like to be out there, I want to be out there with the guys, I want to get the reps, I want to work on little things that we need to work on to hopefully get ready for January football."
Roethlisberger had to adjust the way he plays.
"I told coach what percentage I thought I was and I told him I'm not going to be able to get out of the pocket and I'm not going to be able to scramble and not going to be able to run nakeds [bootlegs] and sprintouts."
Defenses, including the one in San Francisco, know that.
"Absolutely," Roethlisberger acknowledged. "I think that's why they probably deferred when they won the toss. They were going to come after me, and we knew that. And I think we handled it well early and I think that first interception kind of set us back and me back a little bit."
But what message would Tomlin send to his team if he does not play Roethlisberger this week after doing so last week? That doing so last week was a mistake? That they do not need Roethlisberger against such lowly opponents in the final two games, St. Louis and Cleveland? That the final two games no longer are important since the Steelers have clinched a playoff spot and their chances at securing a top seed are longer than they were before Monday night?
James Harrison said he has and will continue to change his style of play -- and, by the way, he thinks the Cleveland Browns should be punished, too.
Harrison returned to practice Wednesday after his one-game suspension from the NFL for hitting Browns quarterback Colt McCoy helmet-to-helmet Dec. 8 at Heinz Field. He did not make the trip to San Francisco.
"My helmet hit his helmet, it is what it is," said Harrison, who commented after the game that he thought the hit was a legal one because McCoy took off running. "If he was hurt so bad, I don't know why they let him back in two plays later. Something should be done to them, I would think. I got a game, what should they get?"
The NFL and the NFL Players Association have investigated why the Browns coaches allowed McCoy to return to the game after he sustained a concussion. Even McCoy's father complained about it. The league has not punished the Browns, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week ordered all NFL teams to have one medical person in the press box to observe such hits and inform coaches on the sideline who may not have been aware of the impact. Cleveland's coaches claimed they did not see McCoy get hit.
It was the first time this season Harrison has been fined/suspended for a hit after the NFL initially fined him $125,000 for four hits last season.
"I'm doing everything they ask me to do," Harrison said, explaining it as "lower my target area."
Why, then, did his helmet hit McCoy's?
"I guess he's a little shorter," Harrison said. "Who knows?"
Receiver Hines Ward finds himself buried on the depth chart again with his chances of catching nine more passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 1,000 slipping away.
Ward was demoted from his starting job to the No. 4 or 5 receiver Nov. 13 in Cincinnati. But, in the next game, Nov. 27 at Kansas City, he emerged again not only as a starter but as a target and caught nine passes over the next two games.
Since then, however, he has been thrown just one pass over the past two games, catching it for 6 yards, and found himself behind Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery Monday night in San Francisco, where not one pass came his way.
Ward would like return for the 2012 season but, of course, he would have to be invited to do so by the Steelers. Does he think Saturday could be his final game at Heinz Field?
"I don't even think like that," Ward said. "Every year's different. I'm just glad to still be here. That hasn't even crossed my mind yet.
"I just want to win, it really doesn't matter about the catches. If we win, we still have a chance. It's always great to win at home and on Christmas Eve.
"I still have two games. It's great to surpass 12,000 yards. I'm on the cusp of getting 1,000 catches. But, for me, it's all about winning."
The Steelers will sign rookie John Clay from the practice squad, likely Friday, because with Mewelde Moore out (MCL sprain), they have only two healthy running backs, Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman, and Tomlin mentioned Tuesday that Mendenhall has sore ribs.
Clay signed with the Steelers after he went undrafted, even though he rushed for 1,012 yards and 14 touchdowns at Wisconsin last season. He has spent this season on the Steelers practice squad, running against their first-team defense on the scout or show team.
"I feel good going against this defense," said Clay, who is listed as 6 feet 1, 248 pounds. "It reminds me of being a redshirt freshman, just waiting around, waiting for that chance to get up."
Besides Moore and Roethlisberger, center Maurkice Pouncey was limited in practice Wednesday after missing the game Monday because of a high ankle sprain. As he did last week, Pouncey announced he would play Saturday against the Rams.
"I can walk around and move around a lot better," Pouncey said, but told reporters, "You guys ain't going to believe me anymore."
LaMarr Woodley, who returned to start Monday but left in the third quarter, did not practice. He missed four starts with a hamstring injury. Rookie cornerback Curtis Brown also did not practice because of a knee injury. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who has missed the past two games with a foot injury, did not practice.
First Published December 22, 2011 12:00 am