Let’s face it, Without Big Ben the Steelers have about an 8% chance of winning come Sunday. Without him they have about a 20% chance of making the playoffs. The Steelers need Ben. It looks like they might get him.
Roethlisberger was cleared for contact today just 2 weeks and change after sustaining an injury that most people said was a 4-6 week injury. Ben just threw the ball a few times today and didn’t take any live reps in practice.
Make no mistakes here; Ben is still a long shot to play this week. He is dealing with very serious rib injuries and if he returns to soon, the Chances of re-damaging his ribs or shoulder is pretty high (especially the shoulder). Adding to the difficult decision for the Steelers is the their offensive line issues. They are short four of the five players that opened the season as starters (they still have 2 but one is playing RT instead of G now). Unless Ben is further along than it seems he is, the Steelers would be foolish to throw him to the wolves (or the Ravens) against a pass rush that has hit its stride over the past 3 weeks and is now hitting the QB 9+ times per game(over the past three weeks).
In his Monday press conference Mike Tomlin said that Ben threw today but that he (Tomlin) didn’t learn anything about Ben status from the throwing session. Tomlin also reiterated that Charlie Batch is the teams starting QB until further notice. This could just be gamesmanship on the part of Tomlin, but it doesn’t seem to be very helpful because whether you have a banged up Ben or Batch in the lineup the team is very likely to just try and play ground and pound defense to spare their QBs from injury or, in the case of Batch, just horrible passing. Either way the game plan for the Ravens D is going to be pretty similar and the Ravens were going to have to prepare for both players anyway unless Ben was ruled out early in the week.
At this point I would give Ben about a 25% chance of playing, but that is subject to change as more news comes forward.
Stay tuned for updates.