Steelers OC: It’s as if Ben Roethlisberger’s been in the room

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a result of close contact with tight end Vance McDonald before McDonald’s positive test, so he won’t be practicing with the team ahead of Sunday’s game against the Bengals.

Roethlisberger can receive treatment for his knees, but otherwise has to be apart from the team for five days. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said on Thursday that the quarterback’s remained a part of the preparation for Cincinnati from a distance.

“He’s been great, because obviously he’s accessible,” Fichtner said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. “He’s got plenty of free time. We’re the ones that have to make the time to fit. … Ben likes to text, so we get texts at night and go back and forth about a lot of things. . . . It’s as if he’s been in the room.”

Roethlisberger will be cleared in time to play on Sunday as long as he continues to test negative and Fichtner said the team is preparing as if that will be the case. Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs are getting the quarterback reps with Roethlisberger away from practice, but Fichtner wouldn’t say which one would play in the event of a change in plans.