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Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger has MRI on injured shoulder

| Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, 2:21 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict sacks Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the fourth quarter of their AFC wild-card game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Cincinnati.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had an MRI on his injured right shoulder Sunday.

Roethlisberger said in passing in the locker room he is day-to-day, and he won't know more until he meets with doctors later in the week.

The Steelers play at the No. 1 seed Denver Broncos in the AFC divisional playoffs at 4:40 p.m. next Sunday.

Roethlisberger injured his throwing shoulder on the final play of the third quarter Saturday in the Steelers' 18-16 wild-card playoff win over Cincinnati when he was awkwardly sacked by Vontaze Burfict and landed on his shoulder. Replays showed Burfict also kneed Roethlisberger in the shoulder after the play.

Roethlisberger said it was difficult for him to throw the ball down the field when he returned to the game for the final drive.

Landry Jones has served as the No. 2 quarterback since Roethlisberger returned from his first injury of the season — a left MCL sprain that kept him out of four October games. Jones was 2 for 5 for 11 yards and an interception in relief of Roethlisberger on Saturday.

“I haven't heard anything of what's going to go on with him, but I'm going to prepare and get ready to go for Denver,” Jones said.

“Nothing is going to change; even if they say that he's cleared to play, I'm still going to prepare the way I have been preparing all year.”

Veteran Mike Vick is another option at quarterback, although he has not been in uniform since Roethlisberger returned from the knee injury.

Injuries have forced Roethlisberger to miss at least part of nine of the Steelers' 17 games (including playoffs) this season.

In addition to the left knee, the 33-year-old quarterback suffered a sprained left foot against Oakland on Nov. 8 that caused him to miss out on starting the ensuing week's game. The following week in Seattle, he went into concussion protocol.

Johnson expects to play

Tight end/fullback/running back Will Johnson expressed confidence he will be healthy enough to play Sunday after injurying his left hamstring during the first quarter in Cincinnati.

“It's just a Grade 1 (strain), but because of the location it's considered a Grade 2,” Johnson said. “I got an injection (Sunday) morning; I plan on playing this weekend. I'll take it light in the early part of the week and see how it feels.”

Munchak flag ‘looked worse'

Running back Jordan Todman was unaware that offensive line coach Mike Munchak had a hold of Bengals safety Reggie Nelson's hair when Munchak was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the first quarter Saturday. Nelson was running along with Todman well out of bounds at the end of a running play.

“It looked worse that what it was,” Todman said of Munchak's grab of Nelson.

“The guy pushed him and things happen. It is a fiery game, and people get fired up. I was running fast and he pushed me hard. I definitely went a little ways and slid up on the heated bench.”

Fine line crossed

The Steelers have long feuded with Burfict, and the two high-profile incidents Saturday did little to quell that ire.The helmet-to-helmet hit on Antonio Brown worked to the Steelers' benefit because it drew a 15-yard penalty.

“There are times when he is out of control — and there are times that he is out of control but he played (effectively) with it,” Harrison said. “There's a fine line with it.”

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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