Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger returns to practice

| Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, 1:12 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger returned to practice Thursday, a day after being sent home because he was ill, and said he felt “OK.”

“It is something that is going around, I guess,” Roethlisberger said moments before heading onto the practice field.

Roethlisberger, James Harrison and Martavis Bryant were ill Wednesday and missed practice. Ramon Foster, who said he had a “nasty head cold,” was able to practice.

All are expected to be able to play in Sunday's must-win game against the Cleveland Browns. After the Steelers were upset by the 4-10 Baltimore Ravens last week, the Steelers must beat the Browns and have the New York Jets lose to the Bills in Buffalo.

Roethlisberger refused to address questions regarding the 20-17 loss to the Ravens.

“You know, I totally forgot about that game and everything that happened,” Roethlisberger said.

“I am looking forward. If there are any questions about Cleveland, I will answer.”

When asked about the Ravens' game again, Roethlisberger said responded: “I am over that one already, sorry.”

Blake unsure on return

Cornerback Antwon Blake didn't appear overly confident that his sore back will be at full strength Sunday.

“It's more of a sprain, but we'll see how it goes,” he said. “It was something that happened in the game when I was taking a step.”

Blake, who has 70 tackles and two interceptions, has started every game this season, but his snap count has been scaled back. He played only 55 percent of the snaps in Baltimore after playing more than 90 percent for much of the season.

Vick hopeful about future

Quarterback Mike Vick, who has a year remaining on his contract, isn't sure whether he will be a Steeler next season, but he is confident he still has game.

“Hopefully, there will be more opportunities,” Vick said. “I'll continue to help this team prepare to win and not look toward the future. I still have a lot left in the tank.”

Difficult to move on

Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro concedes it is difficult to get fired up for the regular-season finale after a demoralizing loss in Baltimore.

“I'm not going to lie,” he said. “You kinda feel sorry for yourself after the last game, but you forget about that when you watch the Browns on film. They are going to be hungry and wanting to spoil any chance we have making the playoffs. They have a whole bunch of incentives to beat us. Every week we've had a target on our back, especially this one.”

Holding head high

Cleveland coach Mike Pettine is under fire because the Browns have won only three games. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin could face similar heat if his team fails to qualify for the postseason for the third time in four seasons.

“It's tough, the coaching fraternity,” Pettine said. “Our lack of success here, there's a lot of speculation. I get asked about job security here often.

“As a coach, you just can't get caught up in it. You preach to your players about handling adversity, mental toughness and controlling the controllable. As a coach, you've got to get bunkered in and have tunnel vision on your next opponent. And when the smoke clears and the season is over, whatever happens, happens. But at least you know each day you woke up and did the job to the best of your ability.”

Mark Kaboly and Ralph N. Paulk are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach them at mkaboly@tribweb.com and rpaulk@tribweb.com.

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