The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday—and they plan on having a full or nearly full deck when they go through an extended walkthrough tomorrow in preparation for the game, which head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed earlier today after Jay Glazer reported that information yesterday.
That full deck (minus tight end Vance McDonald, of course) includes the expected activations of at least quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker Vince Williams from the Reserve/Covid-19 List, if not also lineman Jerald Hawkins and running back Jaylen Samuels, all of whom were placed on reserve as high-risk close contacts of McDonald, who tested positive for the virus.
While on the reserve list, Roethlisberger and company were unable of course to be in the building and work physically with their coaches and teammates, but they were permitted to be entirely involved in all game-planning and meetings, because all of the meetings were held virtually as part of the intensive protocols that are activated when there is a positive case.
Tomlin told reporters in speaking after practice that he doesn’t anticipate Roethlisberger’s physical absence during the work week to be restrictive in any way toward what they intend to do on Sunday against the Bengals—and he also said that his quarterback’s knees are fine, after getting banged around on Sunday, acknowledging that he was permitted to come in for rehab.
“No issues regarding the game plan”, he said, adding that “his knees are fine. He’s gotten all the proper rehabilitation that he needs through the course of the week. To be honest with you, his knees weren’t an issue at all anyway. He was able to back into the game and finish the game like I mentioned to you guys at the top of the week”.
Roethlisberger was hit awkwardly by multiple defenders late in the first half on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. While he was banged around a bit, he did continue the game. He left early for halftime after leading a touchdown drive, anticipating that they may not get another possession, before the defense, of course, came in and got a takeaway, leaving Mason Rudolph to finish the half.
But Roethlisberger was able to return in the second half and led a comeback performance that allowed the Steelers to secure their eighth consecutive victory, keeping them at the top of the leaderboard not just in the AFC, but in the entire NFL, as the only remaining unbeaten team.
The Steelers are 8-0 are already at their best start in franchise history, and they can extend that with a win over the 2-5-1 Bengals on Sunday at Heinz Field.