Ben will start on Saturday
Thursday, August 10, 2006
By BOB LABRIOLA
LATROBE, Pa. – With one short sentence, Coach Bill Cowher settled an issue that has been percolating for eight straight weeks.
"Ben will start, and he will play for a short period of time, and I will leave it at that," said Cowher.
This should officially end the almost-daily questions/speculations about the physical effects of the motorcycle accident Ben Roethlisberger was involved in on the morning of June 12. Roethlisberger did require almost eight hours of surgery to repair facial fractures and a laceration on the back of his head, but he reported to St. Vincent College on time, he took part in every practice to this point, and he has looked like Ben Roethlisberger in every practice to this point.
Therefore, as the starting quarterback, Roethlisberger will start on Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals at 4 p.m. And as the starting quarterback in the first preseason game of any season, Roethlisberger will play very little – just like the established starters at every other position.
"As has been done in the past, the starters will play a series or two," said Cowher. "Hopefully we'll look crisp, and then we can get a look at a lot of the younger players.
"I'm not looking for anything from (Ben in this game)," said Cowher. "He's been fine. The biggest thing is from a conditioning standpoint, and we'll continue to monitor that. With the accident he was not able to train as he has in the past, but he has looked fine out here throwing the ball. He was starting to get a little tired early this week, but I like where he is, and he had a very good spring. He was at every offseason workout and was throwing the ball great. I like his frame of mind.
"I don't think there's anything to this point, maybe until he takes that first hit, which is the last bit of apprehension he may have," said Cowher. "I still think it's there; he says it's not. I think it is, because I think it would be for anybody. He hasn't been on any injury list, he's had some nagging things, but certainly nothing pertaining to the accident.
"I'm not worried about Ben. It's more about our football team and making sure we're all on the same page and we get back to where we need to be. We have a tough opponent in Miami, and in a short period of time.
Cowher said the following players would not play against the Cardinals:
Jerame Tuman (hamstring), and he might miss up to a week of practice; Joey Porter (knee), who just came off the physically unable to perform list on Wednesday; Trai Essex (groin), but he probably will be able to return to practice the week of Aug. 13; Brandon Joe (hamstring), but he probably will be able to return to practice the week of Aug. 13; Chukky Okobi, who had neck surgery on Wednesday and may miss between four-to-eight weeks; Hines Ward (hamstring) but he probably will be able to return to practice the week of Aug. 13; and Isaac West (knee), but he probably will be able to return to practice the week of Aug. 13.
Nate Washington will start at wide receiver in place of Ward, and Barrett Brooks will serve as the No. 2 left tackle in this game. Cowher also said that the bulk of both the punt returning and kickoff returning chores will be handled by Willie Reid and Santonio Holmes.
Following Roethlisberger at quarterback will be Charlie Batch, but Cowher said he also will play very little. Batch will be followed by Shane Boyd and then rookie Omar Jacobs.
"Omar and Shane will go back and forth," said Cowher. "We'll give Charlie some work, but he won't see a lot of time either."
With the free safety job apparently now down to a competition between Tyrone Carter and Ryan Scott, Cowher said those players will flip-flop in and out of the game against the Cardinals.
"They're going to get equal playing time this preseason," said Cowher about Carter and Clark. "I'm pleased with where both of those guys are, and I'm really not concerned about that position."