Share This Page

Roethlisberger to start Sunday vs. Chargers

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 4:18 p.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws during practice Wednesday at the team's South Side facility. Coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger, barring a setback, will start Sunday against San Diego. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Ben Roethlisberger, who has made a career of standing up to challenges, successfully answered the latest one issued by his head coach.

And it means Roethlisberger is the Steelers' starting quarterback again, barring an unexpected injury setback Thursday or Friday.

Roethlisberger, in so much pain from his rib and shoulder-related injuries last week that he could throw only lightly, so impressed coach Mike Tomlin with his upgraded throwing Wednesday that he ran the starting offense in practice from nearly start to finish.

“We'll see how his body responds (Thursday), and we'll go from there, but it was a positive day,” Tomlin said. “He made all the necessary throws.”

It was big step forward from last week, when Roethlisberger visibly was bothered by his shoulder sprain and a fracture inside his upper chest still needed time to ossify, or form new bone.

Now it appears only a major setback will keep him from starting Sunday against the Chargers (4-8) at Heinz Field in what would be his first game since he was hurt Nov. 12 against Kansas City.

There's a little bit of pain and tightness but we're not worried about that feeling right now,” said Roethlisberger, who said playing with pain hasn't been an issue. “(I did) three or four reps in each (practice) period, give or take a few, to get a feel for what throws I can and can't make.”

Tomlin apparently didn't see any he couldn't make. Tomlin even assembled reporters following practice, something he does during game weeks only when there are major developments.

“He threw the ball around both horizontally and vertically,” Tomlin said. “I thought the ball had good velocity, particularly in a few instances. It was positive.”

Roethlisberger doesn't need to do anything special Thursday or Friday to get the start as the Steelers (7-5) begin the final, pivotal quarter of their season.

“We've made decisions up to the 11th hour in the past,” Tomlin said. “(But) I don't think that this would be a situation where that will be something that we'll be doing, based on what I saw.”

Roethlisberger's teammates enjoyed seeing him back. The Steelers are 1-2 without him — splitting with the Ravens, as Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch divided the starts, and losing to the Browns with Batch.

“He looked pretty good throwing the ball,” running back Jonathan Dwyer said. “He didn't look like he was getting tired or was in any pain.”

Receiver Emmanuel Sanders sat out of practice with a sore shoulder, but he said Roethlisberger threw “with great velocity.”

Batch, who celebrated his 38th birthday Wednesday, said he was ready to step in if Roethlisberger can't go. Batch played the best game of his 11-season Steelers career Sunday, leading them to their improbable 23-20 win at Baltimore.

“You always want to play, but my role is the backup. … As long as Ben is ready to go, he's going to go. Then you kind of fall back into the role which you normally fall back into. I'm used to that. I understand both sides of it, and right now I'm comfortable either way.”

This would be the seventh time Roethlisberger has returned from an in-season injury or other issue to play in that same season. In the previous six games, the Steelers went 3-3, as Roethlisberger was 100 of 163 for 1,123 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.

“We're excited … just like we were when Troy (Polamalu) came back,” Dwyer said. “We know what No. 7 brings to the table.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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.