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Tag:Pittsburgh Steelers
Posted on: December 10, 2011 9:44 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 4:09 pm
 

Should Steelers sit Big Ben for next few games?

Big Ben limps down the steps to the locker room after Pittsburgh beat Cleveland last Thursday. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

The Steelers became the first AFC team to 10 wins when they defeated the Browns Thursday night. But it came at a price: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and center Maurkice Pouncey suffered high-ankle sprains, and it's unclear if either will play nine days from now when Pittsburgh plays San Francisco on Monday Night Football.

For now, the win moves the Steelers to the top of the AFC North, a half-game ahead of Baltimore, at least until Sunday afternoon when the Ravens faces the winless Colts. And it's the remaining schedules for both teams that could determine how Pittsburgh proceeds with Roethlisberger.

Assuming Baltimore beats Indy (yes, we know, the Raven's three losses are against the likes of the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks but we're giving them the benefit of the doubt against the 0-12 Colts), they will be 10-3, the No. 1 team in the division and the No. 2 team in the AFC. The Steelers, meanwhile, will be the No. 5 team, and at 10-3, they're pretty much locked into that position. (The 7-5 Bengals are currently the sixth seed, but the Titans, Raiders and Jets are also 7-5 and vying for the last wild-card spot.)


With games remaining against the 49ers, Rams and Browns, the Steelers' schedule ranks as the second-easiest in the league. The easiest? That honor goes to the Ravens, who face the Colts, Chargers, Browns and Bengals.

If Thursday night's game was any indication, Roethlisberger will try to play against San Francisco. But whether he takes the field could be determined by what the Ravens do the day before. If they beat the Colts (and they should), the Steelers could choose to give backup Charlie Batch the start and let Big Ben have another five days to rehab.

Batch has a long, successful history of replacing Roethlisberger in the lineup. Big Ben had knee surgery in 2005 and Batch went 2-0 in his absence. He also won the 2006 opener against the Dolphins while Roethlisberger recovered from an emergency appendectomy. Batch lost to the Ravens during a meaningless Week 17 game in 2007, and was 1-1 in 2010 while Roethlisberger served a four-game suspension to start the season.

If the Chargers somehow find a way to beat the Ravens, then we should expect to see Big Ben take the field in San Francisco. Because a victory there, followed by wins against the Rams and Browns, would mean that the Steelers would be no worse than the No. 2 seed in the AFC and get a much-needed bye week during the first round of the playoffs. But again, we can't envision a scenario where Indy pulls off the upset.

A bigger concern for Pittsburgh: Pouncey's health. If there's a silver lining to his latest high-ankle sprain it's this, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac: "Doctors always have maintained that players who have a second high-ankle sprain heal faster and return quicker than players who have suffered one for the first time."

The dark cloud, again via Dulac: "The Steelers think it might be harder for Pouncey to play against the 49ers because he needs his ankle for leverage in run-blocking and pass protection. Pouncey injured his left ankle against the Browns, and it is the same one he injured in the AFC championship game that kept him out of Super Bowl XLV. Pouncey said after the game Thursday night that he will play in San Francisco. Of course, he said much the same thing before the Super Bowl, too, even though the Steelers knew all along he wasn't going to play."

Doug Legursky filled in capably for Pouncey in the Super Bowl and again Thursday. The problem, however, is that he's the starting left guard. Which means that when he moves to center, Chris Kemoeatu comes into the game. Kemoeatu, who has 52 career starts with the team, lost his job in recent weeks for, as Mike Tomlin likes to say, playing below the line.

In two quarters against the Browns Thursday, Kemoeatu had three penalties, two of which came on third downs that the Steelers had converted. He has played so poorly this season that he'll likely be replaced by career backup Trai Essex going forward.

The upheaval along the o-line is another reason not to rush Big Ben back in the lineup; why let him play, risk further injury, and jeopardize the rest of the season? 

In one sense, Roethlisberger's high-ankle sprain could be a blessing. It will allow him a few weeks off, and some much-need time to get healthy. That said, after watching his peg-legged performance against the Browns Thursday, we suspect he thinks getting healthy is overrated.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Big Ben, Pouncey have troubling ankle sprains

Roethlisberger

By Josh Katzowitz

You already know that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlsiberger thought he broke his leg in the first half of Thursday’s win against the Browns, only to return in the second half and power his way through what was later thought to be a high ankle sprain.

Was he tough to the max Thursday? Indeed. Can he play next week? Maybe not.

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Roethlisberger underwent an MRI that confirmed the high ankle sprain, and apparently, the injury has been described as “not good.”

Making matters worse, according to the paper, is that center Maurkice Pouncey also suffered a high ankle sprain and it’s in the same condition as Roethlisberger’s ankle (ie. Less than good).

The Steelers don’t play again until Dec. 19, and getting 10 days of rest will be helpful to the duo. But they also have to play the high-flying 49ers who have one of the top defenses in the league.

You could live with Charlie Batch as Roethlisberger’s backup, but without Pouncey -- who said after Thursday’s game that he would play next week -- as the starter in the middle of the offensive line, that could create a major problem for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger-ankle_medium


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Posted on: December 9, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 8:07 pm
 

McCoy's dad angry at Browns; NFL 'will review'

By Will Brinson

On Friday's podcast, Ryan Wilson and I wondered whether or not Browns quarterback Colt McCoy should have re-entered the game against the Steelers on Thursday night (a contest Cleveland would ultimately lose anyway).

We weren't the only ones curious -- McCoy's father believes his son "never should've gone back in the game" and the Browns never checked the quarterback for a concussion on the sideline.

"He never should've gone back in the game,'' Brad McCoy told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "He was basically out [cold] after the hit. You could tell by the rigidity of his body as he was laying there. There were a lot of easy symptoms that should've told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn't know who he was. From what I could see, they didn't test him for a concussion on the sidelines. They looked at his [left hand.''

CBSSports.com reached out to the Browns first thing on Friday morning for a comment on the decision to put McCoy back in the game but as of this writing hadn't heard back.

An NFL spokesman told CBSSports.com that "We will review [the decision] with the team." The league would not speculate on any potential disciplinary outcomes for Cleveland based on the findings of their sideline medical evaluation.


Our initial decision to inquire about the decision to the team stemmed from a report that the Browns public relations team asked reporters to not use flashes on their cameras during McCoy's press conference. McCoy's father pointed to that as a problem as well.

"After the game, the [public relations staff] made sure Colt's interview was brief and he couldn't face the lights in his press conference,'' Brad said. "The TV lights and the stadium lights were killing him. Why would you say he was fine? That makes it even worse.''

The NFL's review of this incident will be interesting. According to Brad McCoy, his son told him that he didn't remember losing the game or playing in

"I wouldn't have put him back in the game," Browns coach Pat Shurmer said when asked about whether or not McCoy exhibited concussion symptoms. "I definitely don't want to put a player out there that's putting himself at risk if we know it.''

According to Shurmur, per Cabot, McCoy didn't begin exhibiting concussion symptoms until he was "leaving the locker room." Shurmur now says the Browns are "proceeding" as if McCoy has a concussion but insists that the Browns didn't know about it when he returned to the game.

"I feel very confident that if he wasn't able to play we would have stopped him," Shurmur said. "I can assure everyone that we followed protocol."

Shurmur also said that McCoy told the Browns coach "I'm ready to go" and added that he understood Brad McCoy's stance since Shurmur is also the father of a young quarterback.

Now seems like a good a time as any to remind folks that the NFL should look into researching and developing a sideline, handheld and objective concussion test.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Week 14 NFL preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The Steelers handled the Browns on Thursday night, but it was a bizarre game -- on today's podcast we break down Ben Roethlisberger's injury, how he managed to keep playing, whether the Steelers should be concerned, and if James Harrison is going to get fined and/or suspended.

Then we take a spin around the NFL action scheduled for Sunday, wondering if Oakland is a sleeper to take down Green Bay (no, really!), if Chris Johnson can keep running against the Saints, whether the Falcons are playoff-worthy, if Tim Tebow can take down the Bears, if Jim Schwartz can wrangle the Lions and whether we'd rather have Tony Romo or Eli Manning for the rest of their careers.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: December 9, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Big Ben in walking boot, thought 'leg was broken'

By Will Brinson



Pittsburgh beat Cleveland 14-3 on Thursday night, but nothing about the victory was easy. Ben Roethlisberger suffered a nasty ankle injury that looked a lot worse at the time, but eventually returned and led the Steelers to a win.

When the injury happened, though, Roethlisberger didn't think he'd be walking back out. In fact, he said after the game he thought the "leg was broken" although it turned out to just be a high ankle sprain, though he was seen leaving the stadium in a walking boot.

"“I thought my leg was broken, honestly," Roethlisberger said after the game, per our Steelers Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder. “We’ll find out how bad it is. Feels like my [left] ankle’s about to explode."


Roethlisberger also added, via Finder, that he couldn't "drop back to pass" after the injury, so his success was entirely dependent on the offensive line keeping the pocket clean for him, which they did.

Ben left the stadium in a walking boot on Thursday night and as Mike Tomlin pointed out after the game, probably going to be on the injury report when the Steelers play again in 10 days.

The good news for the Steelers is that Ben's got time to heal and, as my colleague Ryan Wilson pointed out last night, it's not like "being injured" exactly turns Roethlisberger into an unproductive quarterback.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:17 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 12:19 am
 

Injury not enough to stop Roethlisberger in win

A high-ankle sprain wasn't enough to keep Roethlisberger from playing the 2nd half against Cleveland. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

For the fourth time in five seasons, head coach Mike Tomlin has the Steelers at 9-3. On Thursday night, however, it required something more than your typical Ben Roethlisberger performance. On most nights, that means holding the ball too long in the pocket, fighting off would-be tacklers, taking more hits than anybody should be able to take, and making plays. On most nights, he comes out the other side bruised but no worse for wear.

Against the Browns, it was a different story, one that takes Big Ben, football player, from cult hero to legend in the span of the halftime intermission. With 6:02 to go in the second quarter with the Steelers leading, 7-3, two Cleveland defender made a Roethlisberger sandwich, and he turned his ankle badly in the process.

Big Ben, in obvious pain and unable to put weight on his left leg, needed two Steelers' assistants to help him to the tunnel, where he took a cart to the locker room. Charlie Batch, who has started for Roethlisberger six times since 2004, played two series before the half.

Roethlisberger-ankle_medium

And then, minutes after NFL Network's Alex Flanagan reported that the Steelers had "positive" news about Roethlisberger's ankle injury, Big Ben, with his ankle heavily taped, limped out onto the field to begin the second half and didn't miss another snap.

Pittsburgh leaned heavily on Rashard Mendenhall to start the second half and he averaged 5.5 yards per carry. But the Steelers are a passing team, even with a one-legged quarterback. So that's what they did … even with a one-legged quarterback.

By the time it was over, Roethlisberger was 16 of 21 for 280 yards and two touchdowns, the last a 79-yarder to Antonio Brown with 2:52 remaining to put the game away for good.

For the Browns, it was more of the same: an offense unable to score points, protect the quarterback or avoid dropped passes in critical situations. Colt McCoy ended the game 18 of 35 for 209 yards but threw two interceptions, the back-breaker coming two plays before Roethlisberger-to-Brown broke the game wide open. A pass into the end zone intended for Mohamed Massaquoi was intercepted by William Gay.

A touchdown there would have given Cleveland a 10-7 lead with three minutes on the clock. Instead, Pittsburgh got the ball at the 20, still leading 7-3, and in the time it took cornerback Joe Haden to fall down, Brown hauled in a Big Ben pass and streaked 79 yards down the sideline.

After the game, Tomlin said Roethlisberger has a high-ankle sprain, but unlike just about anybody else on the planet, it wasn't enough to keep him on the sidelines.

"The doctor said he was okay to go, he wanted to go," said Tomlin. "I'll always give him an opportunity to show what he's capable of. We know what kind of competitor he is, we know his pain tolerance, we know what he's capable of."

Brown, quickly becoming one of Big Ben's favorite targets, called Roethlisberger's return to start the second half "rejuvenating."

"The guy exemplifies toughness … we needed him out there and it was exciting to have him back," he continued. "He persevered through the situation and made the plays we needed to win the game."

The Steelers now have 10 days off to prepare for a Monday-night matchup against the 49ers, and if Thursday night was any indication, Big Ben will be on the field in San Francisco.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:39 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 10:00 pm
 

Big Ben leaves with injury, returns limping

Big Ben left in the second quarter with a left ankle injury. He returned to start the second half. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

UPDATE: 10:09 p.m. ET -- Ben Roethlisberger, with his ankle heavily taped, limped out onto the field to start the second half. He was met with loud cheers but is clearly limited by the injury. There hasn't been an official diagnosis, but the speculation is that it's a high-ankle sprain.

UPDATE: 10:02 p.m. ET
-- During halftime, NFL Network's Alex Flanagan had this report: "I had an opportunity to speak to Mike Tomlin and he called the news 'positive' about Ben Roethlisberger. He had an X-ray on his ankle, that X-ray is negative. [Tomlin's] not sure if it's a high-ankle sprain or a lower leg issue, telling me that he would know a little bit more once he got in the locker room at the half and evaluated Ben a little more. His availability is still up in the air. Charlie Batch came in for him. Hines Ward would be the next (quarterback), he played at Georgia.


"But also concerning: (center) Maurkice Pouncey, we just saw him carted off into the X-ray room. Also an ankle issue. Doug Legursky likely taking the second half for (Pouncey)."

Midway through the second half with the Steelers leading the Browns, 7-3, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger rolled right looking for a big play down the field to one of his young wide receivers. The Browns had great coverage, and Roethlisberger, as he's known to do, held the ball waiting for something to develop. As often happens, he was sacked, this time by two Cleveland defenders at once, and in the process, suffered a left ankle injury.

He left the field with the aid of two assistants and he was limping badly.

Roethlisberger has a history of injuries and a history of playing through them but upon first appearances this looked bad.

Veteran Charlie Batch replaced Big Ben in the lineup, something he's done at various points during his Steelers career.

Roethlisberger-ankle_medium

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:17 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: George Atallah + Thurs Preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Despite there being no lockout, the NFLPA's been under fire for a number of issues (a lack of HGH testing, the suspensions of some Redskins, Cedric Benson) and union spokesman George Atallah was kind enough to join the show in break down where the union stands on those issues.

We also discuss in depth some of the issues surrounding HGH testing and whether or not it's a viable option for 2011.

Then Ryan and Will break down the Thursday night matchup between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, wondering if the Browns have any shot at all to upset the Steelers and if the trade that gave Atlanta Julio Jones (and the Browns Greg Little) is already a bust for Cleveland, and if Pittsburgh is the best team in the AFC.

The guys also break down Archie Manning's latest comments about Peyton and Andrew Luck and how they relate to the Colts future.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com