It came down to the wire, but Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to start at Sofi Stadium against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football after clearing the league’s COVID-19 protocols Saturday morning.
Roethlisberger will be activated to the team’s 53-man roster and will fly to Los Angeles on a separate flight Saturday afternoon with the expectation of starting, according to Steelers’ Director of Communications Burt Lauten.
Roethlisberger had previously tested positive last Saturday less than 24 hours before kickoff against the Detroit Lions after self-reporting symptoms, forcing backup quarterback Mason Rudolph to start under center in an eventual 16-16 tie at Heinz Field.
Now, after missing practice all week leading up to the Chargers matchup and participating in team meetings via Zoom while recovering from COVID-19, Roethlisberger is expected to go right into the starting lineup on Sunday night, giving a huge boost to a Steelers’ roster that will be missing cornerback Joe Haden, linebacker T.J. Watt, left guard Kevin Dotson, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and reserve defensive tackle Isaiahh Loudermilk.
Roethlisberger’s recovery and expectation of starting on Sunday night do not mean that the quarterback has recorded two negative tests, as the great Dr. Melanie Freidlander breaks down in-depth here for the site.
How he’ll perform on Sunday night after missing practice all week long remains to be seen, but he’s been able to start games in the past in his Hall of Fame career without practicing during the week while dealing with injuries.
HIs return, in any fashion, should provide a big boost to the roster, which is hamstrung with injuries and is facing a key game on the road against an AFC foe in Week 11.