Latest Personnel/Injury Buzz: Wednesday viewed as a pivotal practice for Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger is getting closer to returning behind center after missing the last two games but he’s going to have to show much improvement this week in practice over how he looked last week. For now he appears on the upswing but head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to commit to Roethlisberger just yet.
“Ben is getting closer to health,” Tomlin said during his weekly press conference. “He threw yesterday and I guess it could be described as successfully. We’ll see what it looks like on a football field Wednesday.”
Tomlin mentioned Roethlisberger will “be given an opportunity to prove he is healthy” but as of today, the team is game planning with the intention to start Charlie Batch.
“In the meanwhile Charlie is our guy and we’ll prepare and plan with that in mind just like we did a week ago,” Tomlin said. “We will continue to give Brian (Hoyer) some work if we can. The reps that we give Ben will primarily come from Brian.
Health wise Byron Leftwich (ribs) is close to returning but with how well Batch played on Sunday, Leftwich will be out of the equation again this week. “There won’t be many opportunities for Byron to prove that he is getting healthy even though he is,” Tomlin said.
While there is now a buzz in Steelers headquarters that the team could have Roethlisberger back for Sunday vs Chargers, how Roethlisberger looks Wednesday is going to tell the story as the vibe from Tomlin today is that he doesn’t intend to let the situation drag on throughout the week.
Starting cornerback Ike Taylor will see his 135 consecutive games streak come to an end as Taylor has a hairline fracture in his ankle and will miss at least a couple games.
Cortez Allen will move into the starting lineup and with Keenan Lewis emerging as a priority for the Steelers this off-season, we could be getting a glimpse at the Steelers starting cornerback tandem for the next three to four years.
“Obviously, Cortez has played a lot of defensive football for us here over the course of the season, so I was not surprised by his performance,” Tomlin said of Allen’s performance on Sunday. Curtis Brown will now see an increased role due to Taylor’s injury. “But I was pleased with the defensive contributions 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 amount of defensive work and stand and deliver.”
The Steelers plan to workout cornerbacks Wednesday morning but one of them won’t be veteran Stanford Routt who signed with Houston after today’s workout.
Troy Polamalu has had no setbacks after returning to the lineup vs Baltimore. “I thought Troy’s return was a positive thing,” Tomlin said. “There were no steps backward…. We expect that to continue.” Polamalu played 50 of 64 snaps vs Ravens.
— Mike Tomlin appears to be so down on Rashard Mendenhall that the only way Mendenhall is going to get an opportunity to redeem himself is if there’s an injury to Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman. Tomlin saw nothing in the Baltimore game to alter the depth chart and Mendenhall is expected to be inactive on Sunday.
— Tomlin expects Jerricho Cotchery to return to the lineup after missing the past two games with multiple rib fractures but the team is likely to dress five wide receivers as Emmanuel Sanders has a nagging shoulder injury and Mike Wallace has a nagging knee injury.
— Tomlin called LaMArr Woodley (ankle) questionable but did indicate Woodley could work his way into playing this week. Look for him to sit out one more week.
— Tomlin expressed confidence in Willie Colon (knee) returning to the lineup this week.

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William DePaoli

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