Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger should return Sunday vs. San Diego
By Dale Grdnic | CBSSports.com
December 4, 2012 3:07 pm ET
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.