Expect Ben Roethlisberger to practice this week, but his injury status is still up in the air

Patrick Smith

Roethlisberger was limited in practice the entire week leading into the Steelers' Week 13 game against Baltimore. It's up in the air whether he'll play Sunday against San Diego, and that is likely to be the same report on Roethlisberger through Thursday.

Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch filled in heroically during the Steelers' 23-20 win over Baltimore in Week 13.

All things being equal, the Steelers would rather let Batch end on the proverbial good one, while getting their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, back from the rib and shoulder injury he suffered against Kansas City in Week 10.

But they may not have a choice but to again turn to Batch.

Roethlisberger didn't practice fully heading into their Week 13 game against the Ravens. He's indicated he's still in pain and couldn't throw the ball as hard as he feels is necessary to give his team a chance to win.

There isn't much to suggest those issues went away over the weekend, and with the players having Tuesdays off, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is likely to inform the media at his press conference at noon Tuesday Roethlisberger will practice, and they will evaluate his status as the week progresses.

Roethlisberger has missed the Steelers' last 14 quarters of play (Weeks 11-13, and most of the second half against the Chiefs), and in that time, Pittsburgh has scored 40 points, more than 50 percent of them coming in Week 13.

For all of Batch's heroics, the offense struggled considerably early in the game despite several gaffes from the Ravens' secondary. It wasn't all on Batch, as a drop from Mike Wallace in the first half and a fumble in front of an open field for Emmanuel Sanders did damage right along with Batch's overthrow of a wide open Wallace in the end zone.

Batch's play improved as the game progressed, giving a sense of optimism over a possible third consecutive start. Obviously, that start would hinge upon Roethlisberger's health.

Byron Leftwich may practice this week as well, two weeks after breaking two ribs against the Ravens in Week 11. It isn't a certainty that he would be back this week, but it would be interesting how the Steelers would approach a situation in which Roethlisberger could not play but Leftwich could.

It would seem better for the sake of continuity if Batch would get the start. The offensive rhythm has been greatly affected by having three different quarterbacks start and play in the last four games.

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