The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with a rash of injuries, but none bigger than the one to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The veteran quarterback left Reliant Stadium on crutches, but a MRI on Monday revealed only a sprain, but his status for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans is uncertain.
In the final seconds of Sunday’s loss to Houston, Roethlisberger’s leg was twisted awkwardly on a tackle - the second time this season that has happened to the quarterback. Although Roethlisberger stayed in the game for the final plays, it was clear he was not 100 percent.
Although Roethlisberger has played through many injuries in his career, if his mobility is limited in any way, he may have to sit out for Sunday’s game against Tennessee. The Steelers’ offensive line has been awful this season and starters Jonathan Scott and Doug Legursky were sidelined against Houston. Starting right tackle Willie Colon was lost for the year in the season opener due to a triceps injury. Even with Scott and Legursky possibly back in the lineup this Sunday, Pittsburgh’s offensive line is still one of the worst in the NFL.
Through four games, Roethlisberger’s stats aren’t bad – 1,148 yards and three touchdowns, but he has faced constant pressure in the pocket. If the Steelers can’t improve his protection, Roethlisberger is going to be dealing with nagging injuries all season.
One positive for Pittsburgh is the upcoming schedule. The Steelers face a relatively favorable stretch – Tennessee, Jacksonville and Arizona – before playing New England on Oct. 30.
Pittsburgh is still one of the contenders to win the AFC North, but have to play a lot better than they have over the first few weeks of the season. The Steelers have losses to the Ravens and Texans, while defeating the Seahawks and Colts – a combined 1-6.
Even if the Steelers win the division title and make it back to the Super Bowl, it’s clear the front office has to do something about the offensive line. Although Roethlisberger is one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, there’s only so much he can do with his constant pressure in his face. Center Maurkice Pouncey is one of the few guaranteed building blocks up front, with rookie tackle Marcus Gilbert also playing well this season.
Roethlisberger played last season with a painful foot injury and led the Steelers to a Super Bowl appearance. Can the Steelers recreate that same magic in 2011?
At this point, making the playoffs would appear to be a challenge. Pittsburgh should be more concerned about Roethlisberger’s health and status for Sunday’s game against Tennessee, which is suddenly an important game for the Titans at 3-1.