Only one thing currently is known regarding the status of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for Saturday’s game against the Rams: Roethlisberger didn’t practice on Wednesday, 13 days after spraining his ankle.
Beyond that, it’s unclear whether he’ll play.
On Wednesday, NFL Network reported that team officials would be “shocked” if Roethlisberger plays. But Roethlisberger remains optimistic.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to walk,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday, per the Associated Press. “It actually feels a lot better than I thought it would. . . . I’ve said many times I want to go and I’ll try and be . . . ready to go.”
At some point, though, the decision needs to be taken out of his hands. Coach Mike Tomlin has said he never considered removing Roethlisberger from Monday night’s 17-point loss to the 49ers. So is Tomlin now considering not starting Roethlisberger in a potentially meaningless game that will be played as few as 14 days before the Steelers have to go on the road for the wild-card round?
Sure, football is about toughness and grit and playing through pain and all that crap. But while most brain function goes out the window when it’s time to start banging bodies, the time for wisdom comes between games. And it’s time for someone in Pittsburgh to make a good decision that has nothing to do with helping Roethlisberger win admirers (or win over critics) and everything to do with positioning the team to be as successful as possible when the playoffs begin.
“I’m not saying I talked [Tomlin] out of taking me out,” Roethlisberger said regarding Monday night’s game, “but I wasn’t going to quit. He kind of asked me, ‘You want to come out?’ I said nope.”
For Saturday, Tomlin should assume that Roethlisberger wants to play, and the head coach should make the decision without regard to what Roethlisberger wants.