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Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger said team had idea Marcus Gilbert could be suspended

Joe Rutter
| Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, 7:54 p.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws against the Titans in the fourth quarter Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws against the Titans in the fourth quarter Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 at Heinz Field.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Steelers players weren't exactly caught off guard when right tackle Marcus Gilbert was suspended four games Monday for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

Roethlisberger said on his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment that he knew about the looming suspension for “a week or so, maybe two weeks.”

“He knew it was potentially coming,” Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger said players told Gilbert, who said he took an illegal substance “inadvertently,” not to appeal the suspension.

“How many times do you win appeals in the NFL?” Roethlisberger said. “You can postpone it, but how does it help us if in three weeks, they are like, ‘Nope, you have to serve your four games.' Or is it better for him to take this and get it over with now and get back for the last two regular-season games and postseason?”

Roethlisberger said Gilbert said he took the substance after he was given assurance that “100 percent no chance would it be an issue.”

“He knows that we are still responsible for what we put in our body,” Roethlisberger added. “We can't always take the word of a doctor or nutritionist.”

Sutton activated

Rookie cornerback Cam Sutton, the team's initial third-round draft pick, was activated from injured reserve, the deadline for the Steelers to make a decision on his future.

The addition of Sutton gives the Steelers 11 defensive backs on the active roster. Sutton played the inside and outside cornerback positions during training camp, but where and when he takes the field in a game remains unknown. That includes the possibility of playing special teams.

“I'm undecided on even whether he's going to play at this juncture,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “We have some options in terms of people we can utilize. We'll see. I think the work that we do in preparation will provide the clarity we need there.”

Sutton didn't begin practicing until three weeks ago.

“Working is one thing,” Tomlin said. “Playing is another. Stay tuned.”

On the depth chart released Tuesday, Sutton is listed as the co-third string right cornerback behind Artie Burns and William Gay.

Injury update

Coty Sensabaugh will make a second consecutive start in place of injured cornerback Joe Haden (fractured fibula) on Sunday night when the Steelers play the Green Bay Packers at Heinz Field.

Tomlin offered no timetable on Haden's return beyond his absence against the Packers.

Sensabaugh had a 32-yard interception return in the 40-17 win over the Tennessee Titans, but he also was beaten on a deep pass that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half.

“He was very much above the line, but we expected him to be,” Tomlin said. “That's the mentality that we have here, but it's fortified in the play of the men. He's answered the call.”

Tight end Vance McDonald (ankle) and free safety Mike Mitchell (ankle) will be monitored in practice this week. Each player sat out the win over Tennessee.

The only new injury Tomlin reported was a “small” hamstring injury for rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Tomlin said it could “limit” Smith-Schuster in practice this week.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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