By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — While Ben Roethlisberger’s left high-ankle sprain and possible setback in Cleveland has some concerned, the health of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback is the least of their issues this week.
Roethlisberger looked a little better in practice Thursday, according to Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, but after working out on a limited basis Wednesday center Maurkice Pouncey could not practice Thursday and is questionable to play against the Denver Broncos Sunday afternoon.
“I’m sore, and my ankle doesn’t feel right,” Pouncey said after practice. “I don’t know how it’s going to feel tomorrow, and I don’t know if I’ll play. I’m going to try to play, but we’ll see.”
Pouncey became more agitated with each question about his left high-ankle sprain, which he apparently aggravated Wednesday after playing the entire game at Cleveland last Sunday. Doug Legursky would be the starting center if Pouncey can’t play, and Chris Kemoeatu would play left offensive guard.
Arians answered affirmatively when asked if he was worried about Pouncey’s playing status against the Broncos. He also confirmed that it happened sometime Wednesday early in practice.
“We’ll see what happens with the response of his ankle (Friday),” Arians said. “With these things, you never know. It could be weather-related. It could be anything. He didn’t sting it in practice, but it just got sore. So, we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Roethlisberger was listed as a full participant in practice Thursday, and Arians was fairly positive when discussing him.
“He was a little better,” Arians said. “A little better. He got some of it, and he moved around OK. Not as good as he was, but he was OK.”
Arians added that while Roethlisberger aggravated the injury sometime during the third quarter at Cleveland, that didn’t hamper his performance afterward.
“He was good in the fourth quarter,” Arians said. “He moved around and made some great throws on those third downs, but adrenaline does a lot for you in a game that you don’t have on Monday.
“When you wake up, the adrenaline is not there. So, I’m sure it happened during the game. He thought in the third quarter, but adrenaline can get you through ball games, especially tight ones like that.”
Roethlisberger clearly has been a different quarterback since suffering the ankle injury Dec. 8 against the Browns. But he played the entire game at San Francisco. He sat out the home game with the St. Louis Rams and then played the entire game at Cleveland last Sunday.
“He’s obviously not as mobile as he was before when he could make a lot of throws out of the pocket,” Arians said. “But the biggest thing is the ball would go high on him, but nothing out of the ordinary. Field position had a lot to do with how we’ve played. We’re gaining yards, but we’re not scoring a lot.
“And we’re really not scoring in the red zone. Our red-zone offense has really slipped on us. The other night, we had two more downs, but the clock ran out on us. We only had five seconds. So, there were times situationally that if we could have played better in the red zone we would have scored more points.”
Along with Pouncey, starting right outside linebacker James Harrison (toe), starting right defensive end Brett Keisel (groin) and starting strong safety Troy Polamalu (calf) did not practice for the second straight day. Cornerback Cortez Allen (shoulder) and running back Mewelde Moore (knee) also did not practice.
The only player limited in practice Thursday was offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (back), while Legursky (shoulder) and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring joined Roethlisberger as full participants in practice.