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fordfixer
12-05-2012, 12:00 AM
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger should return Sunday vs. San Diego
By Dale Grdnic | CBSSports.com


December 4, 2012 3:07 pm ET

http://www.cbssports.com/general/blog/nfl-rapidreports/21262392/steelers-qb-ben-roethlisberger-should-return-sunday-vs-san-diego




The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to get one starter back, but will lose another for at least a couple of weeks, Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday during his weekly press conference.


After missing three games with a sprained right shoulder, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should return against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Heinz Field. However, cornerback Ike Taylor suffered a right ankle fracture last week at Baltimore and is out indefinitely.


If Roethlisberger can't play, Charlie Batch will start his third straight game, and Brian Hoyer will be the backup. Regular backup Byron Leftwich (ribs, shoulder) is still recovering from injuries he suffered Nov. 18.


"Ben threw Monday, and I guess it could be termed successfully,'' Tomlin said Tuesday afternoon. "We'll see what it looks like on a football field (Wednesday), and he'll be given an opportunity to prove that he is healthy. And we'll let that progress go from there. Obviously, Charlie is our guy, and we'll prepare for that like we did a week ago.


"We'll continue to give Brian (Hoyer) some work, too, but we'll focus on the two healthy quarterbacks and one guy that's trying to prove his health in Ben. We'll see where the week takes us, particularly (Wednesday), and I think once we get out there that will provide some clarity for us so we can make firm decisions. But we'll build our plan around Charlie until we see what Ben can do.''


Roethlisberger threw prior to last week's game and was not sharp. He still experienced pain and could not make all the throws. Tomlin noted that an additional seven days of rest should do wonders for Roethlisberger's health, and he looked forward to seeing him throw in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.


Taylor's status is more uncertain. He is wearing a protective boot on his right foot, and his status will be re-evaluated in a couple weeks. Until then, second-year players Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown will have increased playing time. Allen, who replaced Taylor after the injury last week, gets the start. And Brown takes over Allen's spot in the slot in passing situations.


"I thought both guys did a really nice job,'' Tomlin said. "They proved that it wasn't too big for them. Obviously, Cortez Allen has played a lot of football for us already this season, so I was not surprised with his performance at all. But I was pleased with the performance and defensive (play) of Curtis Brown.


"He has proven to be a very stable and reliable special teams player, but it was good to see him get a substantial amout of defensive work and stand and deliver, especially on get-off downs (third downs). And we expect him to get many more opportunities to do that.''


Still, Tomlin said the Steelers will bring in a couple cornerbacks this week for workouts. One of those players is believed to be former Oakland Raiders player Stanford Routt.


In other personnel news, Tomlin said the plan this week is the same for the running backs with Jonathan Dwyer starting and Isaac Redman being used in third-down, short-yardage and goal-line situations. Former No. 1 pick and starter Rashard Mendenhall's status has not been determined. He was inactive last week primarily due to his limited contribution on special teams and the lack of depth on the offensive line, as the Steelers dressed eight players there.


In other injury news, offensive guard Willie Colon (knee) is expected back after missing two games. However, Maurkice Pouncey will play left guard and Doug Legursky will likely be the center. Rookie Kelvin Beachum will get a second straight start at right tackle, as Mike Adams (ankle) is still out.


Fullback Will Johnson suffered a concussion last week and "already has begun the process of a battery of tests,'' Tomlin said. "He has done well on those and might be limited at the front portion of the week, but we're confident that he'll be able to play.''


Wideouts Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace have health issues that could limit them early in the practice week, but both should play. Sanders has an AC sprain of his shoulder, while Wallace has some inflammation in his right knee after jamming it against the Ravens. After missing a couple games with injured ribs, wideout Jerricho Cotchery is expected to return this week.


Free safety Ryan Clark also may be limited at the front portion of the week with a hip contusion, but he is expected to be teamed again with strong safety Troy Polamalu, who returned last week after missing seven straight games and did not have a setback.


And outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, out last week with a sprained ankle, was listed as questionable with a chance to practice this week.

fordfixer
12-05-2012, 12:27 AM
Steelers coach Tomlin: Roethlisberger must prove he’s ready

By Alan Robinson
Sports Reporter


http://triblive.com/mobile/m/msports/msteelers/3068836-96/week-ready-roethlisberger-sunday-tomlin-games-practice-batch-early-steelers


Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012,


Coach Mike Tomlin’s message to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t be any more clear: Show me, and now.


With the Steelers (7-5) entering the critical final quarter of their season that begins Sunday against the Chargers (4-8), Tomlin apparently won’t adopt a wait-and-see attitude regarding Roethlisberger’s status.


Roethlisberger is making progress as he heals from significant rib and shoulder-related injuries, including an upper-chest fracture. He threw Monday, Tomlin said. Late last week, Roethlisberger could throw only a short distance and with visible pain.


If Roethlisberger is to play this week, Tomlin wants to see him throwing hard, accurate passes Wednesday during the first of two major pregame practices. If he can’t, Charlie Batch will get the majority of the practice-week work with the regulars and, almost certainly, the start Sunday.


“We will see where the week takes us, particularly (Wednesday),” Tomlin said Tuesday. “It will provide some clarity for us, and we will be able to make firm decisions. As we sit here and prepare to put together a game plan, we are doing so in the same manner as we did a week ago in that Batch is our guy.”


Last week, the Steelers waited until Friday to rule Roethlisberger out.


“Ben is getting closer to being healthy,” Tomlin said. “We will see what that looks like on a football field.”


Batch, who turns 38 on Wednesday, proved Sunday to Tomlin that he still can win big games under difficult circumstances. Batch threw for 276 yards — the most he has had in 11 years — and a touchdown as the Steelers strengthened their playoff chances by beating the Ravens, 23-20, in Baltimore.


Batch’s play was far superior to that of that week before, when he looked slow and rusty while throwing three interceptions during a 20-14 loss in Cleveland. His redemptive performance against the Ravens probably lessens the urgency for Roethlisberger to return before he is close to being 100 percent.


When Roethlisberger is healthy, Tomlin said, “Obviously, Ben is our quarterback.”


Tomlin wouldn’t speculate whether Roethlisberger might dress as a backup Sunday if he’s not ready to start. Brian Hoyer was the backup in Baltimore, and Tomlin said whatever practice work Roethlisberger gets will decrease Hoyer’s.


“It would be premature to start to make those kind of judgments until we see what he looks like throwing the football,” Tomlin said.


Roethlisberger’s rib isn’t the only major injury the Steelers are dealing with. Ike Taylor, the cornerback who usually draws the opponent’s best receiver, could miss the rest of the regular season with a fractured right ankle.


“It’s very frustrating,” Taylor said during his TribLIVE Radio show. “To not be out there, it’s killing me. I’m doing everything in my will to get back out there.”


Taylor isn’t certain how long he will be out because, he said, “A fracture can be hairline to a small crack. Some people heal faster than others. Hopefully, I heal faster than others.”


Cortez Allen, who played exclusively as a nickel back until replacing Taylor in Baltimore, will start for Taylor. Curtis Brown will be the nickel back.


Linebacker LaMarr Woodley (ankle) is questionable. Left guard Willie Colon (knee), wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (sprained shoulder), Mike Wallace (inflamed right knee) and Antonio Brown (ankle), and safety Ryan Clark (hip) are expected to play but could be limited early in the practice week.


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

lloydroid
12-05-2012, 12:44 AM
I'll tell you what: I loved and cherish what Charlie did last week, but to be honest, I ain't feeling the confidence if we have to go with him moving forward. Without Ben, we could lose to SD. I know, I know, SD finds ways to lose, but they are still talented and want to win too. Yea, horrible head coach, but they can still beat you. Of the remaining games, it could be our easiest, but still, it's not gimmee.

fordfixer
12-05-2012, 01:07 AM
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelernation/roethlisberger-expected-back-on-sunday-but-cornerback-tayalor-out-664868/

Batch starter for now, but Roethlisberger a possibilityDecember 4, 2012 11:22 am





On the Steelers: Can the team recreate the success of 2005?
Mike Tomlin press conference
By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



Coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers will plan on Charlie Batch being the starting quarterback against the San Diego Chargers, but added Ben Roethlisberger will return to practice tomorrow and play on Sunday if he can prove he is capable enough to do so.


"We'll see what it looks like on the football field," Tomlin said today at his weekly news conference. "He'll be given time to prove he is healthy. We'll see where the week takes us, particularly tomorrow.


But he added, "Ben is our quarterback and if he's capable of playing, we'll play him."


Mike Tomlin talks about injuries, Big Ben's possible return


A team source told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Steelers expect Roethlisberger to play against the Chargers on Sunday.


Meantime, Tomlin confirmed that cornerback Ike Taylor has a hairline fracture in his right ankle and will not play against the Chargers. Taylor is expected to miss at least two games, and possibly more.


He was injured on the second play in Baltimore when he broke up a deep pass for Ravens receiver Torrey Smith.


Taylor will be replaced by nickel back Cortez Allen, who had three passes defensed but also gave up two long passes, including a touchdown, against the Ravens. Curtis Brown will be the nickel back in the sub packages.


Roethlisberger was not medically cleared to play against the Ravens -- the third game in a row he missed with a rib and shoulder injury -- but he will play if he proves in practice tomorrow he can make the necessary throws and not be limited by his shoulder and rib injuries.


"Charlie is our guy and build our plan around him and see what Ben will prove to us this week," Tomlin said.


The Steelers were 1-2 without Rothlisberger, but they are coming off a 23-20 victory against the Ravens in which Charlie Batch passed for 276 yards and brought the team back from 13-3 and 20-13 deficits.


"I was happy for and proud of Charlie -- he made all the necessary plays," Tomlin said. "He did an awesome job of communicating. I'm not surprised, but I was excited for him and proud of him."


Meantime, Tomlin said he expects guard Willie Colon (knee) and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (ribs) to return against the Chargers. He sounded less definitive about outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who he said is questionable after missing the Ravens game with a sprained ankle.


He also said backup quarterback Byron Leftwich is "getting closer to health," but he is not expected to dress against the Chargers.


Tackle Mike Adams will miss his second game in a row with a high-ankle sprain, Tomlin said.

hawaiiansteel
12-05-2012, 02:26 AM
Roethlisberger tries to pass practice test

By F. Dale Lolley
published dec 4, 2012

http://ORweb.SX2.atl.publicus.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=OR&Date=20121204&Category=SPORTS0403&ArtNo=121209736&Ref=AR&q=100&maxw=550&maxh=500

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger watches the action from the sidelines during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Ravens.

PITTSBURGH – If Ben Roethlisberger is going to play for the Steelers this weekend, then he has to show head coach Mike Tomlin that he’s healthy enough to be effective.

Tomlin said Tuesday that Roethlisberger successfully threw again Monday as he attempts to return from rib and shoulder injuries that have sidelined him the last three games.

But the true test for Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback will be completing practices as the Steelers (7-5) prepare to play the Chargers Sunday at Heinz Field.

“We’ll see what it looks like on the football field,” said Tomlin. “He’ll be given an opportunity to prove he is healthy. In the meanwhile, Charlie (Batch) is our guy. We’ll prepare and plan with that in mind, just like we did a week ago.”

Roethlisberger was cleared to resume throwing last week, but wasn’t ready to play in the Steelers’ 23-20 win at Baltimore. The Steelers expect that Roethlisberger to play against San Diego, but are making contingency plans for Batch as well.

Batch made his second consecutive start Sunday. The Steelers were beaten, 20-14 at Cleveland Nov. 25, in Batch’s first start in place of Roethlisberger. Batch threw three interceptions and the Steelers lost five fumbles at Cleveland. But the 15-year-veteran, who celebrates his 38th birthday today, rebounded against the Ravens, passing for 276 yards and a touchdown in leading Pittsburgh in a fourth-quarter comeback.

“We’re happy for and proud of Charlie,” said Tomlin. “He made all of the necessary plays for us not only physically, but emotionally. He was solid throughout (and) did an awesome job communicating.”

If Roethlisberger shows he is ready to play, then he will start against the Chargers. Tomlin said there is an opportunity for Batch to start.

“It depends on what the week tells us,” said Tomlin. “It would be premature to make those judgments until we see what (Roethlisberger) looks like throwing the football in 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 settings.

“Obviously, Ben is our quarterback and if he’s capable of playing, then we’re going to play him.”

The news was not as good for Ike Taylor, who was injured on the second play of the game against the Ravens. Taylor suffered a hairline fracture in his right ankle that will end his consecutive games played streak at 135, the longest current streak for any NFL cornerback.

“You can say a lot of things about Ike, and a lot of positive things, but probably the thing that sticks out the most is his durability and availability,” said Tomlin. “This guy hasn’t missed practices, let alone football games, since I’ve been here. We’re in a unique territory in that regard.”

With Taylor out, the Steelers will turn to Cortez Allen to replace him, as they did in Baltimore, with fellow second-year cornerback Curtis Brown playing on passing downs in the nickel defense.

“They’re both talented young guys who are continuing to improve and prove that the stage isn’t too big for them,” Tomlin said. “Obviously, we need them to answer the bell as we continue to push into a territory that we haven’t been in since I’ve been here.”

Odds and end zones

Fullback Will Johnson suffered a concussion against the Ravens but has passed preliminary tests and is expected to play against the Chargers. … In addition to Taylor, right tackle Mike Adams (ankle) is expected to miss the game. … The Steelers expect to have guard Willie Colon and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery back this week. Both players have missed the last two games with injuries. … Linebacker LaMarr Woodley (ankle) is questionable to play. ... Tomlin said he expected to use the same running back rotation this week, with Jonathan Dwyer starting and Isaac Redmanas the backup. Former starter Rashard Mendenhall was inactive Sunday despite being healthy.

http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20121204/SPORTS0403/121209736#.UL7Z_c2FEmw

Eich
12-05-2012, 09:25 AM
I'll tell you what: I loved and cherish what Charlie did last week, but to be honest, I ain't feeling the confidence if we have to go with him moving forward. Without Ben, we could lose to SD. I know, I know, SD finds ways to lose, but they are still talented and want to win too. Yea, horrible head coach, but they can still beat you. Of the remaining games, it could be our easiest, but still, it's not gimmee.


I smell what you're steppin' in. However, I ain't feeling the confidence if we go with a hobbled Ben either. The games last year against SF & Donkeys were disasters because of a severely limited Ben.

We need to win this weekend. I agree, it's the least difficult of our remaining games and hopefully we don't pull a Raiders/Titans debacle here.

Ghost
12-05-2012, 10:06 AM
I'd prefer they go with Batch for one more week and give Ben almost a full month prior to the Cowboys game and final two division games. There's no reason this D can't take care of business against the 4-8 Chargers, who've lost 4 in a row and 5 out of the last 6. This team is NOT good at all. Charlie should be able to get a victory. Give him a little 2 game winning streak to finish out his career!

Steveo
12-05-2012, 01:34 PM
I'd prefer they go with Batch for one more week and give Ben almost a full month prior to the Cowboys game and final two division games. There's no reason this D can't take care of business against the 4-8 Chargers, who've lost 4 in a row and 5 out of the last 6. This team is NOT good at all. Charlie should be able to get a victory. Give him a little 2 game winning streak to finish out his career!

Though this does sound good in theory, I would caution that first Phillip Rivers is capable of having a good day and putting up some points, if this were to turn into a shoot out I don't see our offense keeping up without Ben. Second and more importantly we are neck and neck with the Bengals right now, and can't afford to slip allowing them to possibly take the lead. I would say if Ben can play he needs to play, no disrespect to Charlie.

Eich
12-05-2012, 02:17 PM
Though this does sound good in theory, I would caution that first Phillip Rivers is capable of having a good day and putting up some points, if this were to turn into a shoot out I don't see our offense keeping up without Ben. Second and more importantly we are neck and neck with the Bengals right now, and can't afford to slip allowing them to possibly take the lead. I would say if Ben can play he needs to play, no disrespect to Charlie.


I'm CERTAIN that Ben CAN play. The questions is... can he play like the Ben of a month ago? Or is he still hindered enough to be erratic, like the Ben that played against SF & the Donkeys last year?

ROLROC
12-05-2012, 03:57 PM
If he can play, he needs to be out there. The more reps, the better.

Kaboly tweeted Ben is going to play.

Ghost
12-05-2012, 04:04 PM
If the Steelers can't beat the craptastic Bolts with a lame-duck coach waiting to be fired, with or without Ben; it will be a total disgrace.

lloydroid
12-05-2012, 04:27 PM
If the Steelers can't beat the craptastic Bolts with a lame-duck coach waiting to be fired, with or without Ben; it will be a total disgrace.

You mean like losing to the Raiders, Titans and Browns? OK, then.

ROLROC
12-05-2012, 04:40 PM
You mean like losing to the Raiders, Titans and Browns? OK, then.

Agreed. All available hands on deck. Each game is a must win until we are definitively in and can no longer improve our playoff seeding.

lloydroid
12-05-2012, 05:36 PM
SD is not the worst team in the NFL. They are losers, but have plenty enough to beat us if we are not on our game. I mean, let's not forget who we have already lost to this year. This is the Steelers we are talking about. They can beat OR LOSE to anyone.

Ghost
12-05-2012, 05:40 PM
You mean like losing to the Raiders, Titans and Browns? OK, then.

Those games were ridiculous losses as well. In fact it's why they are fighting for a playoff spot instead of in a great position to win the division (those losses still pi$$ me off) and possibly a bye week. If the coaching staff can't prepare this team and the team itself can't get up to beat a team that flat out sucks and there are playoff implications then it's a disgrace, especially with San Diego having to fly across the country to play in Heinz field. Don't give me that any given Sunday crap. It's week 14. The Steelers are either real or frauds. They are a much more talented team than the Chargers. Beating them with Batch should not be an issue.

I'm all for Ben playing if there is no real threat of a routine sack (which we know will happen) reinjuring him to the point of being done for the year including post season. This isn't a "tough it out" injury. The Steelers reported it as a life threatening injury.

lloydroid
12-05-2012, 05:40 PM
I said all along the Ben injury would take a month to fully heal. That's right where this is coming in at. I said the phony "We got good news from the doctor today" was just a feign in order to "trick" the Ravens. I was right.

toddjammin
12-05-2012, 05:50 PM
per Steelersdepot.com, Ben practiced in full today and looked good!!!!

RuthlessBurgher
12-05-2012, 06:39 PM
Kaboly tweeted Ben is going to play.

Uh oh...now I'm starting to doubt it. Kaboly always seems to be wrong.

NorthCoast
12-05-2012, 06:54 PM
You guys are missing the more significant news item; keeping Pouncey at LG and Legs at C!!! Something tells me the coaches like what they saw last weekend on that OL..

hawaiiansteel
12-05-2012, 07:10 PM
Mike Tomlin: Roethlisberger made all the necessary throws

Posted by Josh Alper on December 5, 2012

http://nbcprofootballtalk.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/350x-34.jpg?w=250

On Tuesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would get a chance to prove he was healthy enough to do everything the Steelers expect from their quarterback during practices this week.

Based on what Tomlin had to say after practice on Wednesday, Roethlisberger was awfully close to meeting that goal. Roethlisberger took the majority of the snaps with the first team during the session and Tomlin liked what he saw when Roethlisberger put the ball in the air.

“I’ll see how his body responds in the morning and we’ll go from there,” Tomlin said, via the team’s website. “But it was a positive day today. He made all the necessary throws.”

Tomlin didn’t go much farther than calling it a positive day and “a good step,” although it’s hard to imagine that Roethlisberger won’t be the starter if he comes back to work on Thursday without suffering any downturn in his condition.

Once the Roethlisberger question is settled, the Steelers can turn their full attention to the rest of their injured players. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley, wide receiver Antonio Brown and safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu all missed practice on Wednesday, making their conditions something to watch as the week unfolds before the Steelers host the Chargers.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/12/05/mike-tomlin-roethlisberger-made-all-the-necessary-throws/

hawaiiansteel
12-05-2012, 08:13 PM
Roethlisberger to start Sunday vs. Chargers

http://triblive.com/csp/mediapool/sites/dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls?STREAMOID=tBPCk UJ_djqB_dV70$sx7c$daE2N3K4ZzOUsqbU5sYt5h3mhezfrurt GmFQ3flo4WCsjLu883Ygn4B49Lvm9bPe2QeMKQdVeZmXF$9l$4 uCZ8QDXhaHEp3rvzXRJFdy0KqPHLoMevcTLo3h8xh70Y6N_U_C ryOsw6FTOdKL_jpQ-&CONTENTTYPE=image/jpeg

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.

By Alan Robinson
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ben Roethlisberger will start at quarterback Sunday for the Steelers unless he has an unexpected setback in the next two days.

Roethlisberger took a majority of the snaps with the starters Wednesday in practice, and Tomlin said afterward, “We’ll see how his body responds (Thursday), and we’ll go from there, but it was a positive day today. He made all the necessary throws.”

Roethlisberger missed the past three games with a sprained sternoclavicular joint that inhibited his throwing and a rib dislocation and upper chest fracture that caused considerable pain.

He tried working in practice last week but couldn’t throw for any distance. As a result, Tomlin said during his weekly news conference Tuesday that Roethlisberger needed to prove he could make all the necessary throws before he resumed playing.

Roethlisberger did that Wednesday, and it was evident Tomlin was pleased with what he saw.

“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.”

Charlie Batch, who led the Steelers (7-5) past the Ravens 23-20 on Sunday, said before practice he was ready to start again. However, he will play against the Chargers (4-8) at Heinz Field only if Roethlisberger doesn’t respond well to his first full practice since Nov. 10.

“There’s a little bit of pain and tightness, but we’re not worried about that feeling right now,” Roethlisberger said.

http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/3077271-85/roethlisberger-tomlin-steelers#ixzz2EDqAZZrq

RuthlessBurgher
12-06-2012, 01:25 PM
You guys are missing the more significant news item; keeping Pouncey at LG and Legs at C!!! Something tells me the coaches like what they saw last weekend on that OL..

With Colon likely able to play again, and Adams not, I wonder if they move Colon back to his old RT spot now instead of Beachum.

Starks-Pouncey-Legursky-Foster-Colon

flippy
12-06-2012, 01:30 PM
With Colon likely able to play again, and Adams not, I wonder if they move Colon back to his old RT spot now instead of Beachum.

Starks-Pouncey-Legursky-Foster-Colon

I'm more concerned with how soon we can get DD in the mix. I prefer Foster at RT. Let's slide him out and get DD some work.

eniparadoxgma
12-06-2012, 09:57 PM
I said all along the Ben injury would take a month to fully heal. That's right where this is coming in at. I said the phony "We got good news from the doctor today" was just a feign in order to "trick" the Ravens. I was right.

The statues being made in your honor are on their way. Just wait.

hawaiiansteel
12-07-2012, 01:16 AM
Steelers' Roethlisberger to start against Chargers

By WILL GRAVES
— Dec. 6

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't taking any chances with their franchise quarterback's sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib.

Though the Steelers confirmed Ben Roethlisberger will return to the starting lineup on Sunday against San Diego after missing three weeks due to injury, Roethlisberger will take the field with a little extra protection.

Roethlisberger will play with a custom fit rib/chest compression shirt and a layer of Kevlar-lined composite in his shoulder pads to help absorb hits to his clavicle and shoulder joint regions.

The padding, made by Unequal Technologies, has grown popular across the NFL. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick wore a similar compression shirt after injuring his ribs a few years ago and dozens of players — including Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison — use Unequal CRT in their helmets.

The padding — about a half-inch thick— in Roethlisberger's shoulder pads is similar to the gear the company puts in its chest protectors for baseball catchers. Roethlisberger said last week his shoulder pads had been "juiced up" by the team trainers.

Whatever he's wearing, the Steelers (7-5) are eager to have him back on the field. Roethlisberger took "90 percent" of the first-team snaps on Thursday without any major issues.

"He looks like himself for the most part," offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. "Now I don't know what he's feeling when he's doing some of those things. But it looks like he's moving around pretty good."

Roethlisberger said he felt "good" but declined to expand. Haley doesn't expect there to be any limitations to the playbook though he joked he might not call as many designed run plays for his quarterback, who never met a play he didn't like to extend.

"I think he understands his body better than anybody," Haley said. "He's the one that's got to make the decisions and we'll just try to put him in the best positions to succeed."

The Steelers went 1-2 in Roethlisberger's absence, including a 23-20 victory over Baltimore last week behind backup Charlie Batch. While Batch's steady performance against the Ravens kept Pittsburgh's playoff hopes alive, the team hopes to hit its stride with a healthy Roethlisberger under center.

"When Ben's in it's just a whole different level of game planning and things that teams have to do just to compensate for how athletic he is," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "I think he brings a dimension to the team that nobody else can bring."

http://pro32.ap.org/content/steelers-roethlisberger-start-against-chargers