View Full Version : Roethlisberger is king of pain

12-16-2011, 05:43 AM
Roethlisberger is king of pain
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2011 9:12 pm

PITTSBURGH -- From head to toe, Ben Roethlisberger has suffered his share of injuries over the years. Rarely, however, does the Steelers' quarterback miss games.

Since becoming the starter in Week 3 of the 2004 season, Roethlisberger has only missed eight starts due to health reasons.

In two of those instances, he could have played if those games weren't regular-season finales that meant nothing to the Steelers' playoff seeding. Another game he missed was due to an appendectomy.

"When I was playing with the Jets, I'd hear about what a tough guy Ben is," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "But after coming to Pittsburgh this year and seeing him first-hand, it's just amazing. He's a warrior in every sense of the word."

Over the years, Roethlisberger has had foot, ankle, knee, rib, shoulder, hand, thumb and nose injuries. Twice he's had concussions.

Earlier this year, he played through a sprained foot and a broken right thumb. Now he's dealing with a high ankle sprain for the first time in his career.

That was the diagnosis after he was sacked in the second quarter of a Dec. 8 game against Cleveland. At first, it was feared that Roethlisberger broke a bone in his left lower leg. But after X-rays and an MRI, he was diagnosed with a Grade 1 high ankle sprain.

"It is my first (high ankle sprain) and it's tough," he said. "You hear a lot of people talk about it, a lot of guys have had it, and you hear how painful it is. But you really don't know what to expect until you get one. It's definitely not a fun thing." Remarkably, Roethlisberger returned for the second half of the 14-3 win over the Browns and took every offensive snap despite limping around in pain. As of right now, he's questionable at best to play Monday night San Francisco. He's missed all three practices this week and probably won't practice today. He's hoping to get a few practice reps Saturday.

"In the second half of that game (last week), you're playing off adrenalin and emotions," he said. "But the next couple days after that, I kind of shook my head because I don't know I did it. It's amazing what adrenalin and wanting to be out there for the guys can do."

Since the injury, coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger has worked "tirelessly" in rehab. Roethlisberger still wears a walking boot most of the time to protect his injured ankle. He's most thankful that the Steelers are playing Monday instead of Sunday.

If the game were Sunday, no way he'd play. But with an extra day of rest and therapy, he has a chance to play in the showdown against the 49ers.

"If I'm not moving forward with this, we're doing a lot of stuff for nothing," Roethlisberger said. "We're in the (training room) non-stop. It's range of motion stuff. It's hot tub, cold tub, resistance moving, massage. It's everything possible we can do.

"The masseuse last night really got a lot of the swelling out. So it actually looks like an ankle now instead of one big mass of fluid down there. So we're definitely making good progress. I get out of (the boot) for just stretches at a time. I can walk around without a boot ... not very far and not very fast. I asked the doctor if I could get out it, and he said he prefers for me to stay in it helps it heal."

On Thursday morning, team trainer John Norwig molded a cast around Roethlisberger's ankle and then shipped it to a company in New Jersey. From that cast, a special ankle brace was made that will be placed on Roethlisberger's ankle for further support if he practices Saturday and if he plays Monday night.

If Roethlisberger can't play against the 49ers, Charlie Batch will start.

"I don't know if it's my decision," Roethlisberger said. "I'm going to do everything I can to be out there. It's probably more on (the coaches and the trainers). So if I'm not out there, it's probably because they didn't feel comfortable with me being out there."

Tomlin has said that the circumstances of the playoff chase -- the Steelers and Ravens are tied for first place in the AFC North at 10-3 -- have nothing to do with Roethlisberger's chances of playing.

"I don't play that game," Tomlin said. "If he's healthy enough to play, he will play."

Right now, that's a very big if.