2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Steelers struggling without Roethlisberger

By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
    2012-11-28 16:33

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Steelers have proven they can win without their stars.

Troy Polamalu. James Harrison. LaMarr Woodley. Antonio Brown. The list of familiar faces forced to watch the Steelers play from the sidelines this season is lengthy and littered with Pro Bowl selections and Super Bowl rings.

Yet Pittsburgh has survived by living up to ``the standard is the standard'' ethos set forth by coach Mike Tomlin. No matter the position, player or circumstances, the Steelers always seem to find a way to get by.

Until now anyway.

The two-game losing streak Pittsburgh (6-5) rides into Sunday's game at Baltimore has done more than push the Steelers to the fringe of the AFC North race, it's shown that on a team of interchangeable parts there remains an indispensable one.

Ben Roethlisberger.

Since the team's franchise quarterback went down with a sprained shoulder and dislocated rib in the third quarter against Kansas City on Nov. 12, the offense that hummed so efficiently with Roethlisberger's No. 7 taking the snaps has turned into the Keystone Kops.

Interceptions. Fumbles. Penalties. The flaws Roethlisberger's right arm so capably covered up during arguably the best start of his career have been exposed in the team's first losing skid in three years.

``It's disgusting, and it's not something that we're all about here,'' said Brown, who expects to return after missing three games with an ankle injury. ``Hopefully, I can help bring back some order to this team.''

Something that's been in short supply since Roethlisberger walked into the tunnel on that cold, wet Monday night against the Chiefs, his right shoulder throbbing and a dislocated rib coming dangerously close to his aorta.

In the 35 drives the Steelers have played without Roethlisberger, backups Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch have produced two touchdowns, three field goals, 17 punts, 11 turnovers and two season-damaging defeats.

Still, the 37-year-old Batch - who will likely make his second straight start on Sunday in Baltimore - insists Pittsburgh hasn't become too reliant on Roethlisberger.

``I wouldn't necessarily say that,'' Batch said. ``There's a lot of guys on this team that are capable of making plays. But for whatever reason we haven't been able to get into the end zone. And I think right now we're going to figure out a way to do that and I don't think anybody in this locker room thinks another way.''

Holding onto the ball would help. Heck, holding onto the ball would likely make the difference.

The Steelers went 4-2 in games without Roethlisberger from 2007-11, including three victories to start the 2010 season while the quarterback served a four-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Pittsburgh turned it over 10 times in those six games. Or one less than the Steelers have given it away in their last eight quarters.

``Whatever reason, Ben in, Ben out, we still ain't been executing well,'' said Leftwich, who fractured two ribs in a 13-10 loss to the Ravens two weeks ago. ``We've got to fix that and fix our turnover problem and we'll be OK.''

Roethlisberger returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited capacity, though it appears extremely unlikely he'll be ready to face Baltimore, meaning the Steelers will again rely on Batch to revive their season.

The 15-year veteran, who turns 38 next week, isn't too old to believe in redemption. He's won games in the past while subbing for Roethlisberger. There's no reason to think he can't do it again if Roethlisberger is relegated to wearing a sweat suit and ear buds on Sunday.

``We have to figure out what we need to do,'' Batch said. ``In order for us to get to where we want to get to, we have to start winning.''

Tomlin stressed Pittsburgh's offensive issues go far beyond quarterback play and he's taken aggressive steps to get his team's attention, benching starting running back Rashard Mendenhall in favor of Jonathan Dwyer and dropping Mike Wallace to co-starting status with Emmanuel Sanders.

The move came as a surprise to Wallace, who didn't know about the possible demotion until the coach announced it during his usual Tuesday press conference. Wallace, a Pro Bowler last season, had just one catch against the Browns and had a pass bounce off his hands in the third quarter, leading to an interception.

``I know I'm not making enough plays,'' Wallace said.

Having a quarterback who lacks Roethlisberger's big arm doesn't help matters. Batch tried to hit the speedy Wallace deep downfield in Cleveland only to see the underthrown pass flutter into the arms of Browns defensive back Joe Haden.

It was the type of miscue Batch avoided during his previous relief appearances, ones that must be eliminated if the Steelers want to win in Baltimore for just the third time in a decade.

Having some semblance of a running game would help. Tomlin awarded Jonathan Dwyer the starting spot based on his production and the fumbling problems that have bedeviled Mendenhall and Isaac Redman.

It's a role Dwyer insists he's ready to embrace

``You have to produce and go out there and make plays for your team,'' he said. ``They're depending on you to be the established guy to get the run going. I've done it before (25 carries a game), so it's nothing new to me. So, whatever they need me to do, I'll do it.''

And the Steelers will almost certainly have to do it without Roethlisberger. Yes, they're not the same team without their best player. So what?

``Not having Ben out there hurts us,'' Mendenhall said. ``We haven't been executing the way we need to to win games and that's evident. We just need to execute better.''

The sooner, the better.

---

NOTES: Polamalu practiced for the first time since Oct. 5. Polamalu has played just five quarters all season due to a strained right calf ... The team moved center Maurkice Pouncey to left guard on Wednesday while starting left guard Willie Colon rested his aching knee. If Colon can't play against the Ravens, Pouncey could start at guard with Doug Legursky moving to center ... WR Jerricho Cotchery (ribs) was limited in practice while Colon, Leftwich, Woodley (ankle), RT Mike Adams (ankle) and LT Max Starks (rest) did not practice.

---

Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Charles ClayNov 21 05:52p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Friday, Nov. 21, and he is doubtful for Week 12 against the Denver Broncos. Clay suffered a setback in practice [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 21 05:32p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is questionable for Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head coach Bill O'Brien said Foster would [ More ]

Jason AvantNov 21 04:52p

The Kansas City Chiefs will sign free-agent WR Jason Avant (Panthers), according to a source. Avant worked out for the team Friday, Nov. 21.

Delanie WalkerNov 21 03:32p

Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is listed as probable for Week 12.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 03:12p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) is considered a game-time decision for Week 12, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Adrian PetersonNov 21 03:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's appeal hearing is scheduled to occur Dec. 2, and commissioner Roger Goodell will not be in charge of the hearing. Former NFL employee Harold [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 02:22p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was not participating during the media-access portion of practice Friday, Nov. 21. Fitzgerald was working on the side during that part of practice.

Delanie WalkerNov 21 02:22p

Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) has passed his concussion test and is good to go in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Giovani BernardNov 21 02:12p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, clavicle) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12.

Julius ThomasNov 21 02:12p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) is listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins after putting in a limited practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Emmanuel SandersNov 21 02:02p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) practiced in full Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins, according to head coach John Fox.

Julius ThomasNov 21 01:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle), who appeared limited during practice Friday, Nov. 21, figures to be a game-time decision against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Thomas said [ More ]

Dwayne AllenNov 21 01:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jonas GrayNov 21 01:22p

New England Patriots RB Jonas Gray (undisclosed) was a no-show at practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Jordan ReedNov 21 01:12p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) missed his third straight day of practice Friday, Nov. 21, and head coach Jay Gruden said Reed has been ruled out for Week [ More ]

Emmanuel SandersNov 21 01:12p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is participating in practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Adrian PetersonNov 21 11:02a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said he'll gladly return this season if he wins the appeal of his indefinite suspension. If he loses his appeal and has to sit [ More ]

Latavius MurrayNov 21 10:32a

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) has earned himself a larger role in the offense, according to interim head coach Tony Sparano. His concussion, obviously, will dictate when that [ More ]

LeGarrette BlountNov 21 10:32a

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount was not signed by the team to replace RB Jonas Gray as the between-the-tackles runner. Blount's presence gives the team another tough inside [ More ]

Jeremy HillNov 21 10:02a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill will be the leader in a 65-35 split of the carries with RB Giovani Bernard in Week 12, in the opinion of beat writer Paul Dehner Jr.

Emmanuel SandersNov 20 07:42p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) has done conditioning work and will be evaluated again Friday, Nov. 21.

Eric KushNov 20 07:03p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared WR A.J. Jenkins, QB Aaron Murray, CB Christopher Owens, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, CB Jamell Fleming, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif inactive for Week 12.

Matt McGloinNov 20 07:03p

The Oakland Raiders have declared CB Carlos Rogers, TE David Ausberry, OG Gabe Jackson, SS Jonathan Dowling, QB Matt McGloin, OG Tony Bergstrom, CB Travis Carrie inactive for Week 12.

Charles ClayNov 20 06:42p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Tauren PooleNov 20 06:42p

The New Orleans Saints released RB Tauren Poole Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jordan CameronNov 20 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Arian FosterNov 20 05:52p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited the previous day.

Pierre ThomasNov 20 05:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 20. Thomas has missed the last four games, but he said there's a chance that [ More ]

Jerick McKinnonNov 20 05:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jimmy SmithNov 20 04:32p

Baltimore Ravens CB Jimmy Smith (foot) said Thursday, Nov. 20, that a Lisfranc injury is the reason he is out for the rest of the season.

Montee BallNov 20 04:22p

Denver Broncos RBs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) both did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Ronnie HillmanNov 20 04:22p

Denver Broncos RBs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) both did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group