Steelers' Roethlisberger 'seems to be fine'; Batch out
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The shakeout from quarterback injuries left the Steelers with good and bad news today: Ben Roethlisberger appears to be fine after taking a blow to the head, but backup Charlie Batch likely is done for the season with a broken left wrist.
Batch will have surgery today or tomorrow to repair his wrist, injured after he replaced Roethlisberger on the final offensive series of the 27-24 overtime loss in Kansas City.
The Steelers, however, were confident enough that Roethlisberger is healthy that they will not sign a veteran quarterback. Instead, it appears they will sign a young quarterback to the practice squad, Tyler Palko, who starred at Pitt and West Allegheny High School. Dennis Dixon, the team's No. 3 quarterback the past two seasons, will move up to No. 2 and the Steelers will go with only two quarterbacks on the active roster for now.
Roethlisberger "seems to be fine," a source close to the situation told the Post-Gazette yesterday. Roethlisberger took various tests yesterday to determine if he sustained any type of concussion, and while those test results were not available, the source said he did not think the quarterback had a concussion. He should play Sunday night in Baltimore.
Officially, a team spokesman would only confirm that Batch has a left wrist injury and said coach Mike Tomlin will have updates on him and Roethlisberger at his news conference today.
Roethlisberger left the game with 12:21 remaining in overtime after he scrambled and was sacked near midfield. Linebacker Derrick Johnson's knee inadvertently hit Roethlisberger in the head as the quarterback hit the ground. Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette after the game that he was OK.
Batch entered the game and was involved in four plays, the first time the veteran backup had taken a snap since the 2007 season. He missed the entire 2008 season with a broken collarbone sustained during the preseason. Roethlisberger had taken every snap this season to that point.
Batch spoke with reporters at his locker after the game and apparently did not know he had a serious wrist injury. He was asked if he would be ready to start if Roethlisberger could not go in Baltimore.
"When we come in on Wednesday that's when I'll find out," Batch said. "Right now it's premature to speculate."
Tomlin did not mention Batch as he went through the Steelers' list of injuries, which included a sprained MCL to starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu. It was not until later that Batch's wrist injury was discovered. He wore a cast on his left wrist on the team chartered flight home from Kansas City Sunday night.
Although they are relieved that Roethlisberger seems to be OK, the Steelers are reeling from injuries and consecutive losses as they enter another critical game Sunday night in Baltimore.
The loss of Kemoeatu means that undrafted rookie Ramon Foster likely will make his first NFL start against the Ravens. Also, the defense has become softer with the loss of Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu, whose return date remains unknown, but isn't likely to happen this week.
The Steelers did not lose ground to Cincinnati in the AFC North Division after the Bengals were upset Sunday in Oakland, but they lost ground elsewhere. If the season ended today the Steelers would be on the outside of the two wild-card spots available. They are tied with Jacksonville and Denver. and both have better AFC records than the Steelers.
Baltimore, at 5-5, will be playing for its playoff life Sunday night.
"We got to evaluate ourselves, everybody on this team, come back and finish the last six games strong, really not worry about the playoff hunt or anything," said Hines Ward.
"We're not where we want to be. We have six games left. We'll see what kind of character this team has."
Linebacker James Harrison questioned the unity of the Steelers after Sunday's loss to the lowly Chiefs.
"I just think we need to start playing team ball, whatever needs to be done for the team."
Asked if that were not happening, Harrison said, "I don't think it has."
However, Harrison was at a loss to explain exactly what it is they have not been doing.
"I don't know. Like I said, I think we need to do what it is we're doing well and continue to do whatever it may be that game, passing the ball or running the ball. If we're playing defense well without pressuring, then we need to continue to do that.
"We just have to play better as a whole team."
The NFL's defensive player of the year in 2008 has kept pace with that strong season. He recorded his 10th sack in Kansas City, on pace with the Steelers' record 16 he had last season. He also recovered a fumble Sunday that led to a score.
"I don't think I would have pictured us going out like that," Harrison said of the stunning loss in Kansas City. "We just had way too many turnovers and lapses on defense. It just wasn't a good situation."
First Published November 24, 2009 12:00 am