But if you have the ball in your hand on every play, I think it’s going to have a direct result on how you play. So, I definitely have to pick up my play, but now’s the time to do it because it’s the playoffs.”
By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger said he had a setback during the third quarter last Sunday at Cleveland, but the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback did not appear to be limping too much in the locker room or during practice Wednesday afternoon.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin noted that while Roethlisberger might be limited early this week, his left high-ankle sprain shouldn’t affect his availability against the Denver Broncos in their wild-card playoff game Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colo. Tomlin also said the injury was no worse than it was going into the Browns game.
I felt really good going into the Cleveland game, but I had a little setback going into the third quarter,” Roethlisberger said. “So, we’re working really hard with the trainers just to get back to where we were going into the Cleveland game, because I felt pretty good going in and moved around pretty good. So, we had a little setback, but we’ll get moving. We got set back about a week.
“I don’t know if I hit the ground wrong or got hit, but we’ll see. We’ll be all right. When I play bad, there’s a reason for it, whether it’s turnovers or incomplete passes or something else.
Roethlisberger and his center, Maurkice Pouncey — also coming back from a left high-ankle sprain — were both listed as limited in practice Wednesday. However, neither should miss the opening playoff game against the Broncos.
“I think I made it out of Cleveland game OK, but I was really tired after it,” Pouncey said. “It was a couple weeks since I did anything, so that was it.”
The Steelers’ offensive line should get a different look this week, as Doug Legursky is expected to return to the starting lineup at left guard after missing three weeks with a right shoulder injury. Trai Essex started two games there, while Chris Kemoeatu opened last week’s game at Cleveland. But Legursky said he was back in the starting lineup in practice Wednesday.
“I went out there today and had a good day, so that extra week off really helped me get ready to help us make a strong push in these playoffs,” Legursky said. “It went really good today, and I think I’m ready to go. So, I don’t see anything changing there unless I have a setback later in the week.”
As Tomlin confirmed Tuesday, the Steelers will be without Ryan Clark at free safety, and third-year pro Ryan Mundy will start in his place.
“It’s the playoffs, and it’s a big deal,” Mundy said. “So, you don’t want to overlook that, but at the same time you don’t want to get your head up in the clouds too much or lose focus of the task at hand. You still have to go out there, and you still have to execute and play with technique and play hard.
I’ve played a lot of football for the Steelers the past few years, and I’ve played both safety positions. So, even though I don’t have a lot of starts (two at strong safety), we have a good game plan to best utilize what I can do and what we need to do to be successful against the Broncos.”
That basically appears to be using Mundy as a center fielder for the Steelers’ defense with the cornerbacks pressing their coverage to the outside and strong safety Troy Polamalu primarily at the line to support the run defense against the run-oriented Broncos.
“I think that’s the plan, especially playing against the Broncos, since they run the ball so much,” Mundy said. “But you can get comfortable from them running the ball, and then here they go throwing a deep pass on you. So, we just have to read our keys all week (in practice) and make sure that we execute our defensive game plan.”
Among those who did not practice Wednesday for the Steelers were CB Cortez Allen (shoulder), OLB James Harrison (toe), DE Brett Keisel (groin), RB Mewelde Moore (knee) and SS Troy Polamalu (calf) — the fourth straight week with a different injury listed. Also, OLB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) and OG Doug Legursky (shoulder) were full participants in practice.
For the Broncos, SS Brian Dawkins (neck), RB Spencer Larsen (knee) and WR Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice Wednesday, while SS David Bruton (Achilles) was limited and OLB Von Miller (thumb) got through a full practice session.