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Ben Roethlisberger's return to Steelers lineup Sunday probable, but not certain

The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking forward to finally seeing their starting quarterback under center after 4 weeks off, but Ben Roethlisberger's status for Sunday remains up in the air.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

At Mike Tomlin's weekly press conference Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach stated the team was moving forward with Ben Roethlisberger as their quarterback, barring a setback. Certainly a change in tune after Roethlisberger was limited in last week's preparation for the Kansas City Chiefs, but a welcome site for fans and teammates eager to see No. 7 finally round out the team's potent offense.

Roethlisberger might have thrown a small wrench into the team's plans for his return Wednesday as he admitted to having a minor setback last Thursday at practice which caused pain and inflammation in his injured knee Thursday night and Friday morning. So much so Roethlisberger sat our the majority of Friday's practice.

Nonetheless, medical personnel assured Roethlisberger there was no setback to his sprained MCL, or the bone bruise, which occurred in Week 3 against the St. Louis Rams. Rather, doctors told Roethlisberger such a reaction to his first true test on the healing joint is normal.

"I think it was more pain and inflammation setback," Roethlisberger told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I don't think it was another injury. It was just putting an extra heavy load on it and paying for it that night just with achiness, inflammation, things like that.

"I didn't know what to expect. It was more disappointment. Once I got the reassurance I didn't do anything to hurt the MCL or bone bruise; that it was just simple overuse, the inflammation and swelling will naturally happen ... Once I got over the initial shock that something more happened, I was fine with it."

Roethlisberger will now have to prove to doctors, coaches and himself that he is fully ready to play this Sunday at Heinz Field against the 6-0 Cincinnati Bengals. After Roethlisberger's setback last week, such a return can certainly be put into question. Roethlisberger was not included on the team's Tuesday injury report, but remains guarded in terms of his hopes of playing Sunday.

"That's why I've said this whole time we have to take it one day at a time," he said. "That's why I'm not getting my hopes up about Sunday. I'm going to get my hopes up for today and see how it goes today."