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Old 11-05-2008, 08:17 AM   #1
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Default Steelers await word on Roethlisberger

Steelers await word on Roethlisberger
By John Grupp
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ben Roethlisberger's fate Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts is like a hesitant voter on Election Day - still undecided.

The Steelers' Pro Bowl quarterback underwent an MRI on his sore right shoulder Tuesday afternoon. Coach Mike Tomlin said he would wait for the results before giving the nod to Roethlisberger or one of Monday night's heroes, Byron Leftwich, when the Colts visit Heinz Field at 4:15 p.m.

"It will be based on the information that I get from my medical personnel about how he's feeling," Tomlin said.

The injury, which forced Roethlisberger to sit out the second half of the Steelers' 23-6 victory over the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field, was a re-aggravation of the same shoulder injury sustained in Week 1.

"That would be safe to say," Tomlin said.

Leftwich replaced Roethlisberger to start the second half and completed 7 of 10 pass attempts for 129 yards and one touchdown.

Roethlisberger was unavailable for comment after Monday night's game and yesterday at the Steelers' practice facility on the South Side. After his medical tests, at about 1 p.m., he ate lunch in the team cafeteria, without using his right arm to so much as pick up a french fry.

Tomlin said the sore shoulder has been affecting Roethlisberger since it was originally injured, when Houston Texans' 291-pound defensive lineman Mario Williams landed on it during a sack in the season opener.

"I'm sure his shoulder has affected him," Tomlin said. "How much it has affected him, I do not know."

Tomlin said the injury was aggravated on Roethlisberger's 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown late in the first half. It was that play - not the earlier collision between Roethlisberger's arm and defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery during his follow-through - that re-injured the AC joint, where the collarbone meets the shoulder blade.

While the sneak seemed harmless, video shows Redskins linebacker London Fletcher ramming into Roethlisberger's shoulder as he crosses the goal line.

"I found out this morning that it was on the quarterback sneak," Tomlin said. "I don't have any juicy information in regards to how it happened."

Leftwich, signed in August after Charlie Batch sustained a broken collarbone in the preseason, directed a pair of 70-yard plus touchdown drives.

"That's the hardest job, the backup quarterback," receiver Hines Ward said. "But he came in and did a phenomenal job."

Tomlin said Roethlisberger "potentially" could have returned to Monday night's game.

Even before the injury, Roethlisberger struggled. He had completed 5 of 17 passes for 50 yards and one interception.

Roethlisberger has started 46 of the Steelers' past 48 games, missing only the 2006 opener against the Dolphins (appendectomy) and the 2007 finale at Baltimore (resting for playoffs).

Leftwich, meanwhile, has started two games since mid-October 2006, both with the Falcons last season.

Leftwich is familiar with the Colts. He made five starts against them while playing for AFC South rival Jacksonville from 2003-06. He went 2-3 against Indianapolis, with a pair of 300-yard games.

"I'm sure it will be a help to us as we prepare," Tomlin said. "Byron is a great communicator."

Tomlin praised Leftwich for his quick decision-making. He said the former Marshall star surpassed Roethlisberger in that area.

"He probably did do a better job of getting the ball out," Tomlin said, "and that did not surprise me. That's one of the characteristics of Byron Leftwich. That's who he is."

Said Willie Parker, "Nobody was surprised by how well Byron came out and played."

Roethlisberger is on pace to have one of his worst statistical seasons, but Tomlin said the sore shoulder is not an excuse.

"Whether we are talking about Ben or somebody else or our team in general, things like bumps and bruises and injuries are part of this game," he said. "When we deem people are healthy enough to play, then their play speaks for itself."

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