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Steelers Appear To Be Taking Cautious Route By Putting Roethlisberger on a Snap Count

Word around the Steelers' practice facility is QB Ben Roethlisberger would play in Pittsburgh's Week 17 game at Cleveland.

While speculation has fired up around whether he should or shouldn't play, the Steelers are doing the smart thing and suggesting he may do both.

Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette suggested in his "On The Steelers" column coaches want to use him 25-30 snaps so he's not idle between Dec. 19 (his last game) and whenever their first playoff game will be.

Putting Roethlisberger on a limited number of snaps (25-30 is probably about half of a game) is perhaps the best of both worlds. He'll get a chance to use his damaged ankle a little bit, allowing a test of its durability and to help bring back some of its flexibility, which has no doubt been compromised due to the sprain he suffered in Week 14.

This wasn't said in Bouchette's report, but it also gives the Steelers something of an out when it comes to scoreboard watching. The validity of Pittsburgh's Week 17 game depends solely on Baltimore's game at Cincinnati. If the Ravens win, the Steelers have nothing to play for. If they look up at the scoreboard and see a 34-0 Ravens lead in the third quarter, it wouldn't be smart to risk Roethlisberger further damaging his ankle - or having several other players risk further injury. The Steelers will be the 5-seed in the upcoming playoffs if Baltimore wins.

Along with Roethlisberger, C Maurkice Pouncey looks to return Sunday from a high ankle sprain of his own. He's missed the last two games with the injury.

OLB LaMarr Woodley, though, didn't seem as optimistic. He's come back to the field twice since the initial hamstring injury, but has been unable to finish either game.

Freshly added to the injury report and did not practice Wednesday are SS Troy Polamalu (knee) and OLB James Harrison (neck), neither of them practiced. LG Doug Legursky and RB Mewelde Moore did not practice either and both are expected to miss the game. WR Mike Wallace (ankle), and Woodley were limited. Roethlisberger, Pouncey, WR Emmanuel Sanders and OLB Chris Carter are on the injury report, but participated fully in practice.