On the Steelers: Roethlisberger has a grip on latest injury
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The author of one of the most famous tackles by a quarterback in NFL history has advice for others playing his position on trying to tackle an opponent.
"Hopefully, you don't have to make a tackle, that's the first problem," said Ben Roethlisberger.
That only happens on turnovers and after Chicago's Jay Cutler threw an interception Sunday, he tried to tackle San Diego's Antoine Cason and came up with a broken thumb instead. Cutler will have surgery on his right thumb and Bears coach Lovie Smith said he should return before the playoffs -- assuming Chicago qualifies.
Roethlisberger has been fortunate on two counts:
• He made the tackle on Indianapolis cornerback Nick Harper to possibly save a touchdown after a Jerome Bettis goal-line fumble in the closing minute of their 2005 playoff game. The tackle -- made without injury to Roethlisberger -- helped preserve a 21-18 victory en route to a sixth Super Bowl win.
• His own broken right thumb, injured Nov. 13 in the third quarter at Cincinnati, did not require surgery. He was back throwing the ball in practice Monday after taking the open week off and fully expects to play Sunday night in Kansas City.
"Cutler's injury should have no affect on decisions by quarterbacks whether to go for a tackle or not on a turnover," Roethlisberger said.
"I'm a tackling machine," he joked. "It's natural. There's no way I could sit there and say, 'I have to make this tackle -- Oh, wait, Jay got hurt, how do I do this?' No, it's just go after him and get him down."
Roethlisberger wore a splint on his thumb and a glove on his right hand, something he said he will wear the rest of the season. He threw some passes for the first time since the injury, even though coach Mike Tomlin told him not to, but did not take snaps under center or hand the ball off to anyone, all of which might be a little tricky with a broken thumb.
"It's definitely different," Roethlisberger said of the way he throws. "It hurts first off to just grip the ball. It's something you have to get used to. Coach told me not to go today but I was like I want to get some reps, I want to throw some. I didn't take any under-center snaps. I wanted to take a few reps and at least get a feel for it and get used to it."
He said there will continue to be some pain and that it cannot be numbed because he has to feel the ball.
"It's so early to really tell too much. We're just going to take it day by day and I promise you I'll be out there."
Earlier, when his foot was injured he went into a semi-shotgun formation, which could be possible Sunday night if they believe taking the snap is a problem.
"The Pistol-type thing? Yep. We did a little bit of that today too," Roethlisberger said. "We did it in Baltimore when my foot was hurt. At all costs we try to avoid that because it's tougher on the back to see around me. We're trying to avoid that but if that's how we have to get through some practices and plays then we'll do that."
There's also an otherwise simple matter of handing the ball off with his right hand -- the thumb can get caught or twisted during an exchange.
"It can," Roethlisberger said. "We didn't do any of that today either. It's one of those ones if I do feel [it's a problem] I'll just hand off with my left hand all the time. ... Or we won't call that [dive to the left] play."
Sidney Crosby returned to play Monday night for the Penguins after more than 10 months of speculation about his return to the ice.
Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley knows what it's like to answer daily questions in a more limited way. He has not played since his hamstring was injured Oct. 30 when he was leading the AFC with nine sacks at the halfway point of the season.
Three weeks later, he still has not gone through a full practice and says he still does not know when he will return.
"I was limited out there, I did a few things at practice," Woodley said. "I had a good practice when I was out there.
"The worst thing about this hamstring injury is they take time to heal. You look at guys across the league coming back too early sometimes, the next thing you know they're out 2-3 more weeks."
Ray Seals, a starting defensive end for the Steelers Blitzburgh defenses of 1994 and '95, has returned to town to help honor his late cousin Johnny Gammage by helping to throw a Thanksgiving dinner for the less fortunate Wednesday in Homewood.
Gammage, who partnered with Seals on a number of charity events, died during an infamous traffic stop Oct. 12, 1995, involving police from Brentwood, Baldwin and Whitehall. Gammage was driving Seals' car at the time.
"We're giving a free Thanksgiving dinner for the less fortunate in honor of my cousin, Johnny Gammage," Seals said.
The festivities will take place from 3-7 p.m. at the New Lady Di's Crystal Lounge at 7906 Frankstown Ave. in Homewood. Seals said donations of clothing and food are welcome.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders returned to practice after missing the past three weeks. Sanders left the team the first week of November after his mother died unexpectedly in Texas. He also had a knee injury from their Oct. 30 game against the Patriots that required arthroscopic surgery Nov. 7 to repair a meniscus.
First Published November 22, 2011 12:00 am