Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s surgically repaired right elbow passed yet another test on Monday as he was able to perform solidly in his team’s 26-16 opening-night victory over the New York Giants.
There was certainly some rust that needed knocked off, three new passing targets to get better acquainted with and more, but from a physical standpoint, Roethlisberger passed with flying colors.
Two days after the game, Roethlisberger said on Wednesday that his body is still sore from the abuse administered by the Giants’ defense. But his arm is doing just fine.
“I was saying today I feel like I was just in a car accident,” he said. “Yesterday, I felt like I was in a train wreck. Hopefully, tomorrow it just feels like I fell off a bike or something. I’m definitely sore. The good news is my arm is the only thing that doesn’t hurt. That’s good.”
Roethlisberger said hasn’t had to change much about his arm-care routine, either. Monday night, he wore a compression sleeve over the elbow during play and then a larger, jacket sleeve over it at times on the sideline.
‘That’s a sleeve from a heavy jacket that the equipment guys made for me,” Roethlisberger said. “Rather than put the whole jacket on when it’s warm out, we just have that on the side to keep the elbow warm, kind of like a pitcher if you will. It got a little cool down there at times with the breeze. So, I was just doing what the doctor ordered and keeping my elbow warm.”
In between games, it’s mostly going to be the same routine Roethlisberger has utilized the last few seasons with an off day Wednesday before practicing Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“We will just keep the same routine in terms of Wednesday rest day and then get back into it,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve been told from the doctors is keep it warm, hence the sleeve on the sideline and the sleeve I wore during the game. That’s going to be the biggest thing from what I have been told is making sure it stays warm, throw some passes on the sidelines if there is a long series or something.”
Considering what Roethlisberger has been through over the last year — detailed in his ongoing docuseries “Bigger Than Ben” — that seems like small task to be able to keep the quarterback on the field and playing at a high level.
Steelers Injury Updates: CB Joe Haden Didn’t Practice, Putting Status for Thursday in Doubt
Cornerback Joe Haden did not practice on Tuesday as the Steelers got back to the practice fields at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in preparation for their Thursday night date with the Baltimore Ravens, one of three injured Steelers unable to suit up, with several more limited.
Haden injured his right knee in the Steelers’ Week 11 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He returned to the game after the injury, but Mike Tomlin listed him among the players coming out of that one with “bumps and bruises” that were significant enough to potentially cause an availability issue with a short week of practice.
Haden will likely have to be a full participant on Wednesday in order to suit up Thursday night. He was replaced in the base defense against the Jaguars by second-year cornerback Justin Layne.
Also not able to practice for the Steelers on Tuesday were injured running backs Trey Edmunds (hamstring) and Jaylen Samuels (quadriceps). They appear to be on track to miss their second consecutive game.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was also banged up against Jacksonville, was a limited participant on Tuesday with a foot issue caused when he stepped on a penalty flag late in the fourth quarter of the game.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (quad) and defensive tackle Cam Heyward (ankle) were also added to the injury list for Tuesday as limited participants. Their availability for Thursday does not appear to be in question.
Linebacker Jayrone Elliott, who missed the Jacksonville game with an illness, was able to fully participate in practice. Center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro were given the day off.
Steelers Say Joe Haden, JuJu Smith-Schuster Wouldn’t Have Practiced Monday in Estimated Report
The Steelers did not practice on Monday, but with a game just three days away, they’re still required by NFL rules to put out a practice report, so the team released an estimated practice report Monday evening.
If the team had practiced, it would have been a fairly poorly attended affair.
Wide receiver JuJu-Smith Schuster, who hurt his foot stepping on a penalty flag on Sunday and did not return, and cornerback Joe Haden, who did return to play after tweaking his right knee, would also have been had out.
Tight end Zach Gentry (left knee sprain), who has already been ruled out of Thursday’s game and is expected to be placed on injured reserve after suffering an injury in the first quarter on Sunday, obviously would not have practiced.
The Steelers also estimated that running backs Trey Edmunds (hamstring) and Jaylen Samuels (quadriceps) and linebacker Jayrone Elliott (illness), who all missed Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, would not have returned to work Monday.
For good measure, nine Steelers were given “non-injury related” days offs, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, center Maurkice Pouncey, guard David DeCastro, tackle Alejandro Villanueva, tight end Eric Ebron, defensive end Stephon Tuitt, defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, defensive lineman Cam Heyward and linebacker Vince Williams.
Hopefully, they’ll be well-rested on Tuesday after their estimated break.
Steelers TE Vance McDonald Could Return from COVID-19 List Tuesday
The Steelers will be missing one of their tight ends when they face the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, but they might be getting another one back.
After head coach Mike Tomlin ruled Zach Gentry out of Thursday’s game with a knee injury, he said that co-starter Vance McDonald is scheduled to return to practice from the COVID-19 list on Tuesday.
“Vance is scheduled to work tomorrow,” Tomlin said on Monday. “He’s been cleared to come back. We are going to let the quality of his participation and how he responds to that work be our guide in terms of determining his availability.”
McDonald was placed on the COVID-19 list on Nov. 9 after testing positive after he played in the Steelers’ Nov. 8 game against the Dallas Cowboys. He had missed practice time earlier that week with an illness, but had tested negative in all his pre-game examinations.
Eric Ebron shouldered the load at the tight end position with McDonald out and Jerald Hawkins slid over from tackle on Sunday after Gentry was injured. Practice squad tight end Kevin Rader is an option to play on Thursday if McDonald cannot.