On the Steelers: Roethlisberger to fashion new look
Steelers head trainer John Norwig stops the bleeding on Roethlisberger's broken nose during Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
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Ben Roethlisberger will wear so many protective devices Sunday at Heinz Field he should come with a warning: This quarterback protected by Steelers security.
The latest apparatus will be a clear plastic shield to cover his face and protect his broken nose, repaired surgically Monday. That will join the oversized right shoe that contains two metal plates and a whole lot of tape wrapped around it to protect his broken foot.
He even got a slight bit of protection from the NFL, which Monday fined Baltimore's Haloti Ngata $15,000 for delivering the blow that broke his nose on Sunday. No roughing the passer was called by referee Terry McAuley's crew on that play, nor on the one in which safety Dawan Landry hit Roethlisberger late, but at least they noticed on Park Avenue this time -- unlike the previous week when two Bills players roughed up Roethlisberger after they sacked him and were neither penalized nor fined.
"I'm sure there's going to be some level of discomfort," coach Mike Tomlin said. "I don't think it's going to keep him out of football in any form or fashion.
"You know, he's a competitor. I think I even said it after the game we expect that from him. Not that it goes unappreciated; we just expect that from him. He expects that from himself. He's our quarterback. AFC North football is competitive. The series against the Ravens is a competitive one. No one's going to leave that stadium extremely comfortable, on either side. We understand what playing those guys is about. He delivered for us."
Again, he did. Troy Polamalu provided the impetus, and Roethlisberger delivered another winning drive. It was the third time he has done so this season in the fourth quarter or overtime, the 23rd time in his career, which is John Elway-esque.
Another potential foul against Roethlisberger the officials missed in Baltimore came on one of his best plays of the season, an incompletion. Linebacker Terrell Suggs hit and grabbed him in the helmet while trying to sack him. Roethlisberger kept fighting off Suggs as he moved out of the pocket until he could legally throw the ball away, which he did as if he were passing a basketball.
"I was just fighting to get out of the pocket," Roethlisberger said. "He grabbed me and I kept trying to get away from him. Fortunately, I was able to get rid of the ball in time."
Two plays later, Roethlisberger completed the winning touchdown pass to Isaac Redman.
Heath Miller and Flozell Adams could miss Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field, joining the growing list of starters who have missed games this season.
Miller has missed only two games in his six-year career, both in 2008. But he has a concussion from the $40,000 hit put on him by Baltimore linebacker Jameel McClain and Tomlin said Miller "is experiencing the discomfort that goes along with concussions, so his availability might be doubtful this week."
Adams has what Tomlin called a mild high ankle sprain from Sunday's game. Jordan Woy, Adams' agent, said the tackle should be OK by "next week."
"We'll see how that limits him in the early portion of the week and let that be the determinant of whether or not he's available to us," Tomlin said.
Adams has started every game at right tackle since joining the Steelers this summer as a free agent from Dallas to replace the injured Willie Colon. If Adams does not play, only rookie center Maurkice Pouncey will not have missed a start among the starting offensive linemen. There have been eight different starting linemen this season. Trai Essex, who has started five games at right guard, could replace Adams.
Matt Spaeth, who missed the past two games with a concussion, has been cleared and would replace Miller as the starter. Spaeth has five receptions, all in the past four games he has played.
"He does everything that Heath does and this won't be his first rodeo by any stretch in terms of replacing Heath," Tomlin said. "He's done it in stretches before."
Spaeth caught six passes in consecutive games against the Colts and Chargers in 2008, which Miller missed with an ankle injury. Spaeth has been a backup since the Steelers drafted him in 2007 but plays a lot and often officially starts at "fullback" because coordinator Bruce Arians likes to use two tight ends.
"This guy's a reliable guy," Tomlin said. "He's a Mackey Award winner. He doesn't get the notoriety because he plays behind Heath Miller. But he's not a backup; he's a starter-in-waiting as far as we're concerned. The standards for him will be Heath-like."
Tomlin also said defensive end Aaron Smith, out since he had surgery on his triceps that were torn Oct. 24 in Miami, had an MRI and has been cleared to start lifting weights, although a teammate said he started lifting them last week.
The Steelers signed former Penn State punter Jeremy Kapinos after trying out three at Heinz Field Tuesday. He will replace Daniel Sepulveda, who will have his third surgery to repair a torn ACL on Friday.
Kapinos punted for Green Bay last season, averaging 43.8 yards on 66 punts. He punted one game for Indianapolis this season. He will wear No. 3, previously worn by kicker Jeff Reed.
Kapinos, a third-team all-American at Penn State in 2006, also will hold for placekicks, as did Sepulveda.
Tomlin has a way with words, getting his point across sometimes using big ones, sometimes eloquently and sometimes tersely, as he did on occasion Tuesday during his news conference.
Asked if he could talk about the importance of winning games as his team heads into the last quarter of the season, Tomlin replied, "I'm not ready to have a quarter talk. It's Tuesday of the Cincinnati Bengals. They swept us a year ago. They celebrated pretty nicely on our field the second time they beat us. That's my focus."
Asked if Keenan Lewis does not know the rule that a player cannot run out of bounds on punts and return to the field of play after he was flagged for it the second time this season, Tomlin said, "Ask Keenan."
First Published December 8, 2010 12:00 am