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Roethlisberger on track to play vs. Browns

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger practiced Thursday, keeping him on track to play Sunday in the regular-season finale at Cleveland.

With the Steelers gearing up for the playoffs, Roethlisberger said his priority is getting as close to full strength as possible.

"I'd like to get to 75 (percent)," Roethlisberger said. "I'd be really happy with that."

Roethlisberger is working through the first high-ankle sprain of his career, an injury he sustained Dec. 8 when the Steelers and Browns first played this season.

The rematch has significant postseason implications for the visitors.

The Steelers can secure the AFC North title and a first-round playoff bye with a victory and a Bengals win over the Baltimore Ravens in Cincinnati.

That is one reason offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said he is hoping Roethlisberger suits up after missing the Steelers' 27-0 win over the St. Louis Rams on Saturday.

"You'd like to have everybody out there because of the value of the game, and we want our best players out there playing well," Arians said. "He's obviously one of those, so you'd like him out there but not at the risk of injuring himself. If he can't move around and get out of the way, there's no sense in getting him out there."

Roethlisberger said yesterday he experienced soreness in the ankle after practicing Wednesday. Arians said he thought Roethlisberger moved better yesterday on the ailing left ankle than he had a day earlier.

Arians was "much more" confident Roethlisberger would be able to play against the Browns after seeing him practice. But he also said Roethlisberger does not necessarily need game action before the playoffs because he already is experienced.

Roethlisberger, who is battling a head cold, has been strengthening his ankle and receiving treatment on it at the Steelers' practice facility and at his home. He will wear a protective brace the rest of the season — even if the Steelers get an extra week off by getting the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

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