The verdict is in and the results were as expected. Ben Roethlisberger will start for the Pittsburgh Steelers, when they play the Cincinnati Bengals. The Week 8 matchup will have Roethlisberger under center for the first time since he suffered a sprained MCL and bone bruise. The injury occurred during a 12-6 victory over the Rams.
To make sure he doesn’t have any setbacks or tweak the injury, The Steelers will closely monitor his action during this week’s practices. Although Roethlisberger seemed to be limping slightly as he ran, Mike Tomlin said he won’t assume his range would be as limited as presumed.
The Steelers are taking precautions with their star quarterback. Roethlisberger lobbied to start the Kansas City game but said his knee had started to throb before the game. Big Ben explained the late change, per ESPN.
“I felt good in practice, but then Thursday night it just didn’t feel real good, it kind of ached on me a little bit, didn’t sleep a lot. It was a little discouraging, but I guess that’s part of the rehab process.”
The Steelers will be glad to see Roethlisberger return. Without him as the signal caller, the Steelers went 2-2. Michael Vick was signed in August after Bruce Gradkowski went down with an injury. Vick was inserted as the No. 2 backup, but was largely ineffective in his stint as starter. He was injured in Week 6 against the Cardinals and replaced by Landry Jones. Jones rallied the Steelers to victory in that game but lost his start against the Chiefs.
The Steelers were able to tread water and go 2-2 without Big Ben, but they will need his playmaking ability against the Bengals. With Roethlisberger starting Sunday, the timing is perfect. Sitting behind the Bengals, with a 4-3 record, the Steelers have a lot of ground to cover to keep with the division leaders. A win against the AFC North rival would close the gap between the two and put more pressure on Cincinnati.
As of this writing, Vick is still nursing a hamstring injury. If anything happens to cause a setback with Roethlisberger, the Steelers will have to depend upon Landry Jones for another save opportunity.
The Steelers will definitely get a boost from the emotional Roethlisberger. His intensity seems to be the catalyst that’s missing. Yet in the joy surrounding his return, there are other issues that must be addressed. The Steelers are just happy to see their franchise quarterback return.
Protecting Big Ben will be of the utmost importance to the Steelers. Mike Tomlin is well aware of how the Bengals are playing. He knows that his quarterback will have to adjust.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers will entrust the majority of Big Ben’s protection to right tackle Marcus Gilbert. He hasn’t allowed a sack this year and will be facing Carlos Dunlap. His 6.5 sacks are tied for the NFL lead.
Roethlisberger is back. He’ll need the Steelers offensive line to have his back, Sunday.
[Feature Photo by Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images]