When the Pittsburgh Steelers announced this week that Ben Roethlisberger had undergone surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, the team admitted it had no idea when Big Ben might return.

Apparently, that return might not happen anytime soon. According to ESPN.com, Big Ben's knee injury could keep him sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks. Roethlisberger has already been ruled out for Sunday's game against New England.

Under the 4-6 week timetable, Roethlisberger could potentially be out until after Thanksgiving. A six-week absence means Big Ben wouldn't be back in the lineup until Dec. 4, when the Steelers play the Giants in Week 11.

The pessimism surrounding Roethlisberger's return timeline comes from Dr. James Bradley, the man who performed his surgery. According to ESPN.com, Bradley informed Big Ben and the Steelers of the 4-6 week timetable after performing the surgery on Monday.

As for Roethlisberger himself, he didn't sound too enthusiastic about a quick return on Tuesday. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Big Ben said that a knee injury he suffered last year could affect his rehab for this year.

"Doc says my knee looked good, but there still was some stuff in there from when I had my bone bruise last season in St. Louis," Roethlisberger said. "He said that might keep me out a little longer than just a simple meniscus tear. Maybe an extra week or so. But there's no way to put an exact timetable on it. It all depends on my pain and how I feel."

Another person who didn't want to offer a timeline for a possible Roethlisberger return was Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

"When he is healthy, he'll be back with us," Tomlin said on Tuesday, without specifying a date.

Roethlisberger missed four games last year after injuring his knee against the Rams.

Big Ben has a history of playing through pain, so it wouldn't be crazy to see him come back before four weeks, especially when you consider how big the Steelers' games are over the next few weeks. After playing the Patriots on Sunday, Pittsburgh has a bye before a huge divisional game against Baltimore and a showdown against Dallas.

In the meantime, the Steelers will be moving forward with Landry Jones as their quarterback. Jones started in two of the games that Roethlisberger missed last year and went 1-1, with a win over the Browns and a loss to the Chiefs.