Steelers focused on winning, even if it is without Roethlisberger
Last Sunday, in their Week Nine game with the Dallas Cowboys, the Pittsburgh Steelers experienced a moment of concern; veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was taken to the locker room after throwing a touchdown pass due to obvious knee pain from a previous play where Cowboys defenders collapsed the pocket. Roethlisberger, it has been confirmed, suffered non-serious injuries to both knees. Steelers fans experienced more nervousness when it was announced that Roethlisberger had been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list with four other players. All season, Mike Tomlin has reiterated that the organization has prepared to win games regardless of the personnel on the field. On Tuesday, Tomlin once again confirmed that the team would move forward and remain focused, even if Roethlisberger is unable to be on the field.
Social media was abuzz with speculation and opinions on who the Steelers should start if Roethlisberger were to miss the game against the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals. Many felt that Mason Rudolph, who played a big part last season in the Steelers offense and was with the team in camp, would be the correct option; he entered the game against the Cowboys for a short period in place of Roethlisberger.
Others felt that the Steelers would be better served to call on Joshua Dobbs who was brought back to the team after being released and spending time with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 after seeing action in just five NFL games in his first two with the Steelers after being a fifth-round pick. It’s worth noting, however, that with Gardner Minshew as their signal-caller, Dobbs saw no action in Jacksonville. The last time Dobbs entered an NFL game was in 2018.
Speculation aside, Tomlin hasn’t made a final determination on who might get the call at quarterback, against the Bengals. “Guys like Ben… may have an opportunity to suit up and play for us this weekend.” Tomlin suggested that “much-needed” rest may actually be a benefit for ‘Big Ben’ and that the team remains optimistic that he’ll play on Sunday. “A lot of his work is above the neck anyway in terms of preparation. I have very little concern about [Roethlisberger being prepared] to be quite honest with you.”
Still, the question lingers as to what the Steelers will do if Roethlisberger tests positive for COVID-19 or is a no-go on Sunday for Steelers Nation and sports media. “We’re going to work both young quarterbacks this week,” Tomlin responded in his press conference. “Mason (Rudolph) is going to get the bulk of the work; that’s the position he’s in. But we’ll play it by ear as we proceed through the week. I’m not opposed to playing anybody who increases our chances of winning based on what we’re looking at.”
The Steelers didn’t get to 8-0 on the season, or set the mark for the first time in franchise history, by being afraid to ask the entire team to pull together or guys to step into bigger roles due to injuries or personnel needs. Tomlin made it pretty clear that Pittsburgh, as a football team, has one goal: win with the guys you’ve got available and do so with the belief that every game is a winnable one.