Steelers' Tomlin won't be persuaded to play Ben too soon
By Alan Robinson
Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 8:08 p.m.
Ben Roethlisberger's power of healing is often eclipsed only by his power of persuasion.
But as important as their upcoming game in Baltimore is to the Steelers, this is one time when the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback won't be able to talk his way back into the lineup. He'll have to throw his way into it, and that won't be easy.
Roethlisberger remains in discomfort from the dislocated rib and upper body/shoulder injury that sidelined him during losses to the Ravens and Browns. He badly wants to play Sunday, but coach Mike Tomlin apparently will require a whole lot more than gentle persuasion for that to happen.
Roethlisberger threw lightly Monday, but Tomlin did not watch the session and wasn't able to assess it.
Tomlin said Tuesday the Steelers (6-5) are preparing No. 3 quarterback Charlie Batch to start Sunday against the Ravens (9-2), despite his dismal, three-interception performance that Tomlin admittedly found unacceptable during a 20-14 loss in Cleveland.
“Right now, Charlie Batch is our quarterback,” Tomlin said on a busy day of news in which two players — Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall — were demoted for their below-Tomlin's-line performances. “We are working offensively to put together a game plan that complements his strengths.”
Right now, those strengths don't include making deep throws downfield, something Batch appeared to be incapable of doing effectively in Cleveland. But while Roethlisberger can be the quickest of healers, returning so soon from such significant injuries might be too much to ask even of a player who has played in pain numerous times.
To change Tomlin's mind, Roethlisberger probably needs to show during practice Wednesday and Thursday that he has enough arm strength to make any required throw and doesn't have any discernible pain.
“It's more than just what comes out of his mouth,” said Tomlin, who knows all about Roethlisberger's proven ability to lobby his way back into the lineup. “There's also how they say it and what it is that we see. And what it is that we see (is) probably the chief element in terms of decision-making.”
Still, Tomlin hasn't completely ruled out the possibility that Roethlisberger might play, saying, “We will leave the door open for him.”
Roethlisberger limped onto the field to play in San Francisco last season only a week after sustaining a high-ankle sprain — an injury that can sideline a player for six weeks. But he was ineffective in a 20-3 loss, and the Steelers sat him out a week later against the Rams.
Backup Byron Leftwich, also healing from multiple fractured ribs, is throwing again — as is Roethlisberger — but doesn't appear to be an option only two weeks after getting hurt in a 13-10 loss to the Ravens. Neither does new backup Brian Hoyer, who has practiced for less than a week.
Hoyer is the “emergency” quarterback, Tomlin said, suggesting he would play only if there was no other one else healthy enough to do so.
Tomlin hasn't always appeared to be a Batch fan — the quarterback was in danger of being cut during training camp — he said Batch currently offers the best chance of winning.
“He's a capable, veteran guy, one that guys believe in, one that the guys believe in, one that we know is capable of providing a winning-type performance for us,” Tomlin said.
The Steelers haven't always been able to deliver such performances without Roethlisberger; they are 8-7 without him, 0-5 against Baltimore. But, for the time being, they can only wait for Roethlisberger to show them he's healthy enough to play.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Motivated quarterback Roethlisberger fights to prop up Steelers
- Steelers notebook: Worilds loses sack; Big Ben gets 1st career catch
- Bengals’ balanced offense poses threat to Steelers
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s
- Woodley says he’s fine with move to right side despite numbers
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger comes to Haley defense again
- Host of Steelers veterans look toward career survival mode
- Steelers WR Brown says ‘I thought I had it clean’ after wild, near-miss finish
- Steelers film session: Polamalu not at fault on long run
- Expert: KO doesn’t mean ‘worst’ concussion for Pens’ Orpik
- Steelers’ NFL playoff hopes are all but gone in loss to Dolphins