|Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was walking with a limp after Thursday's practice, which is big news in Pittsburgh. (US Presswire)|
In Pittsburgh, any time the franchise quarterback leaves practice early, it's news.
When he's seen getting an ankle wrapped, it's even bigger news. When it's the same right ankle he badly sprained late last season, it has double the news value. And when that franchise quarterback is seen walking with a slight limp afterward, it's lead-the-newscast kind of news.
With that in mind, as the saying goes, "Nothing to see here."
"I stepped on somebody," Roethlisberger said. "Just rolled my ankle a little bit."
There is no significant concern that Roethlisberger will not play Sunday -- after being treated, he was walking around the locker room, albeit with a slight limp. He left the facility as he normally would and under his own power, but it's feasible that Roethlisberger's mobility could be compromised some in Sunday night's game at Cincinnati.
As has been well-publicized, the Steelers are banged up along the offensive line. Plus, the Bengals rank second in the NFL with 20 sacks. And, of course, part of what makes Roethlisberger an elite quarterback is his ability to extend plays.
It will be interesting to see if Roethlisberger practices Friday. His status for playing Sunday won't be in question, but if it's deemed wise to stay off his feet that day as a precaution, there's a greater likelihood he won't be able to get around as well Sunday.
Pouncey pounces on encouraging news: Three days earlier, anyone who saw C Maurkice Pouncey thought there was little chance he'd be practicing later on in the week, let alone playing on Sunday.
Thursday, the outlook improved dramatically.
Pouncey, who has a right knee injury, was a limited participant in practice Thursday. He sounded encouraged by how he felt after going through a battery of individual drills and taking part in "a couple" of team reps.
"It's felt great so far," said the third-year player, who made the Pro Bowl each of his first two seasons. "Hopefully, I'll wake up (Friday) morning feeling great."
When asked if he thought he would play Sunday, Pouncey said, "I hope I can. I think I am... If I feel good (Friday), I'll definitely play. If not, I'll have to rest it."
Pouncey laughed off any notion that it could be determined that an extra week of rest will do his knee well. "It's divisional games, man," he said. "We don't got time to take nothing easy. We've got to start getting wins."
Batch inching closer to being The Man: Neither RB Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) nor RB Isaac Redman (ankle) practiced on Thursday, further diminishing the chances either plays Sunday. If so, look for RB Baron Batch to perhaps enter the game as the Steelers' featured ball carrier.
"I always practice hard and prepare to be successful on Sundays, so I wouldn't imagine much would change as far as my mentality," Batch said.
Through five games this season, four different players have spent a game (or at least a large portion of one) as the team's featured back. (RB Jonathan Dwyer led the team in rushing yards during each of the first two games.) Each of the four has led the team in carries for at least one game and each of the four has led the team in rushing yards for at least one game.
"Really, that's kind of how we were built through the preseason and some of the things we've had to deal with and through a rotation," offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. "Those guys know everything they need to know, and I feel good about each one of them playing their role."
Rookie RB Chris Rainey also figures to be in the mix, but he is more suited for a role as a change-of-pace type back or one used in the passing game.
For the season, Batch has 34 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. He missed his entire rookie season last year after being drafted in the seventh round out of Texas Tech when he tore an ACL in training camp.
Injury update: Other than Pouncey, the most positive injury-related news to come out of Thursday's practice for the Steelers was that LB Lawrence Timmons participated fully and reported no setbacks. Timmons missed Wednesday's practice due to a foot injury.
Also, reserve LB Brandon Johnson (hamstring) was upgraded from a limited participant Wednesday to a full participant Thursday.
The Steelers won't treat him any differently when it comes to coverages or scheme.
"We didn't bracket him last year; we don't have anything in the plans to do that to him this year," Clark said. "We're going to play our game. We just need to play it better. We have a corner who we feel matches up well with him athletically on both sides. (CB Keenan Lewis) and Ike are tall, long, rangy guys. The thing about A.J. Green is, you could have him covered, he just makes the catch. He's got extreme body control, great hands and he's definitely one of the top five receivers in the league already."