Roethlisberger focuses on moving forward

| Friday, Dec. 4, 2009

Ben Roethlisberger said comments Hines Ward made during a nationally televised interview "hurt" but added that the Steelers' offensive co-captains are "moving forward."

The headaches that caused Roethlisberger to miss last Sunday's game — and led to the comments that Ward insists were meant to be anything but controversial — also appear to be behind the Steelers quarterback.

Roethlisberger practiced again Thursday, and he said before drills yesterday that he hasn't had any exercise-induced headaches since last week. Barring an unexpected setback, he will return to the starting lineup Sunday when the Steelers host the Oakland Raiders in a 1 p.m. game.

"I have no symptoms right now, so I feel great," Roethlisberger said. "I mean I passed all my (neurological) tests last week. I'm ready to rock and roll."

Roethlisberger said after the season he will "explore" using a different helmet, one that will make it safer for him on the field.

In the short term, he has not had to take any more neurological tests this week, and Roethlisberger said he had planned to play last Sunday against the Ravens.

Roethlisberger, however, experienced headaches triggered by exertion after practice last Wednesday and Thursday. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin opted not to play Roethlisberger following a recommendation by Dr. Joseph Maroon to hold the six-year veteran out of the game as a precaution.

"I was kind of in shock, upset, shocked, but I respected what they said," said Roethlisberger, who met with Tomlin last Saturday morning. "I've always been one of those guys that wants to be out there no matter what. So, it was frustrating but probably the smart thing in the long run."

Frustration over Roethlisberger giving way to second-year man Dennis Dixon despite practicing all week, Ward said, is what led to the controversial remarks he made to NBC.

The veteran wide receiver said the "50/50 tossup" line he used when asked about Roethlisberger referred to the number of players in the Steelers' locker room who had previously played with concussions — not the split in opinion about whether Roethlisberger should have played in the 20-17 overtime loss to the Ravens.

Ward said yesterday that he merely answered what he had been asked in the interview, and specifically in regard to what he would have done if he were in Roethlisberger's situation.

"Me personally, I'm playing. But me personally has nothing to do with Ben, and I think people took that and rolled with it," Ward said. "I'm a different dude than anybody. I've play through some (stuff) that nobody played with. One concussion may not be the same as the other."

Ward has apologized to Roethlisberger, and the two talked earlier this week. The veteran wide receiver said he is surprised at the backlash his comments have caused.

"Just hearing some of the responses, "I'm a turd'', c'mon," Ward said. "I give my blood, sweat and tears to this team."

Roethlisberger said he is ready to give everything during a stretch run in which the 6-5 Steelers have little margin for error.

Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said the team will try to protect Roethlisberger on Sunday by not calling quarterback sneaks or plays on which he might not have to block.

But, Arians added, the Steelers will not do too much to rein in Roethlisberger.

"You don't want him playing scared, you don't want to call the game scared," Arians said. "This (game) is too important to pull anything back."

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