Tuesday, October 24, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

ATLANTA -- Big Ben may be Lucky Ben again after it appears he came through another head injury with only mild distress and could play Sunday for the Steelers in Oakland.

Ben Roethlisberger was to visit a neurosurgeon yesterday afternoon to follow up on tests that were conducted Sunday in Atlanta after he left the game in the third quarter after a blow to his head that left him with a concussion.

Ryan Tollner, Roethlisberger's agent, spoke to his client twice Sunday night -- once after the game, before the quarterback joined his teammates for the flight home, and again after he arrived home in Pittsburgh. Tollner said while he did not know the extent of the injury, he heard nothing to lead him to believe that Roethlisberger had a severe concussion.

"He was very coherent and had no ill effects in his thinking," Tollner said. "He was aware of everything that occurred."

The Steelers would have kept Roethlisberger in Atlanta for observation had it been a severe concussion.

The team, through a spokesman, said it would have no information on Roethlisberger's condition yesterday. Coach Bill Cowher usually updates injuries to his players at his weekly news conference, scheduled for noon today. Cowher did not call the injury a concussion when he spoke to the meida after the game but did say, "Ben is sore."

Tollner would not speculate on whether Roethlisberger will play Sunday.

Roethlisberger had an appointment yesterday afternoon with Joseph Maroon, the Steelers' UPMC neurosurgeon who is vice chairman of the department of neurological surgery at Pitt's School of Medicine.

The fact the team waited nearly 24 hours before scheduling Roethlisberger to visit Maroon also was an indication the injury was not severe.

"My feeling was I was happy just to see Ben get up," Tollner said. "When he was laying motionless, it was a frightening sight. It was good to see him get up, walk off the field and return to the sideline."

Tollner also was happy to see Roethlisberger get on the charter flight back to Pittsburgh Sunday night.

"We've had other cases with clients where that individual stays in a hospital in that city overnight," Tollner said.

Roethlisberger's agent said that while he believes the quarterback will be OK, he welcomed the precautionary stance the Steelers took with him after the blow on Sunday.

This is great news indeed that it doesn't appear to be serious. Ben is as tough as they come and hopefully he'll make a good full recovery.