Scary moment for Roethlisberger, Steelers
What had been a good training camp for the Steelers couldn't have had much worse of an ending.
Ben Roethlisberger went down with an apparent sprained ankle with less than an hour remaining in the next-to-last practice of camp, and the Steelers quarterback stayed down for several minutes while trainers examined his right foot.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin declined to comment after the team's afternoon practice Thursday. The Steelers would only say through a spokesman that the injury occurred after Roethlisberger got his foot stepped on during an 11-on-11 drill.
There are several reasons for the Steelers to be optimistic that the injury is not serious, though.
The 27-year-old franchise quarterback stayed on the field after getting hurt, and at one point he was sitting on a water cooler with his right foot wrapped in ice. Also, when the Steelers huddled at the end of practice, Roethlisberger hobbled to the middle of the field to be with his teammates.
He did not answer questions and rode off the field in a golf cart following practice.
Roethlisberger appeared to get his feet tangled up with Max Starks after outside linebacker James Harrison drove the left tackle into the backfield while rushing the quarterback.
"I'm not sure if I knocked into him or what happened behind me," Starks said. "My feet are fine. I don't have a sprained ankle. (Roethlisberger) said he doesn't remember much. He hit the ground so we'll see what happens."
The injury almost surely knocks Roethlisberger out of the Steelers' preseason game against the Redskins Saturday night in Washington. The Steelers have a morning practice today that is closed to the media. They will break camp afterwards and fly to Washington later in the day.
Yesterday started on a considerably lighter note.
Kicker Jeff Reed had several charter buses park on the hill that overlooks the football fields at St. Vincent before the morning practice.
Reed tricked more than a few of his teammates into believing that Tomlin would call off the morning practice off and send them to the movies -- something that has long been a training camp tradition.
The players laughed about the joke that Tomlin had also been in on -- "Some guys were really disappointed," wide receiver Hines Ward said with a chuckle -- and that showed the kind of jovial mood that prevailed on the penultimate day of camp.
Things got considerably more hushed after Roethlisberger's injury in the 11th hour of camp. The Steelers had stayed relatively injury free since the players reported to St. Vincent July 31. Starks said he didn't hear anything to suggest that Roethlisberger had sustained any sort of a fracture.
Tomlin did not address the media as he normally does after afternoon practices because he had held a news conference yesterday morning.
Roethlisberger wasn't hurt badly enough to miss the softball game the Steelers played last night, though he was reduced to the role of spectator. Roethlisberger sat in a chair and coached third base while periodically icing his ankle.
Roethlisberger, one of only 10 quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls, had looked sharp over the final two weeks of training camp. He said earlier this week that his throwing arm felt strong and was right where it needed to be at this point of the preseason.
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