Ben Roethlisberger is slated to start for the Steelers against the Bengals on Sunday, but don't expect him to be either fully healthy or comfortable under center. Days after an uneven performance in a loss to the Raiders, the veteran quarterback told reporters Wednesday that he was bothered by a pectoral injury suffered early in Week 2's game, adding that he feels pain whenever he reaches his arm or picks himself up off the ground. With that in mind, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that while Roethlisberger is set to suit up against Cincinnati, he "will be in pain when he throws."
Roethlisberger is no stranger to nursing and/or playing through injuries. The 39-year-old signal-caller has played a full season just once in the last six years, and he already told reporters this week he'll "do everything I can" to be ready for the Bengals on Sunday. But this latest injury -- and the fact it will apparently hinder his throwing ability -- does not bode well for an offense already beset by a shaky offensive line and the quarterback's dwindling aerial production. Roethlisberger, remember, had already appeared limited in the passing game during the Steelers' season opener, which followed a 2020 season that ended with a slump from the former Super Bowl champion.
Pittsburgh has leaned heavily on its run game and defense through two weeks, so that figures to be the formula again in Week 3, regardless of Roethlisberger's status. In the unlikely event Big Ben cannot suit up, or the more likely scenario where he cannot finish Sunday's divisional matchup, backup Mason Rudolph would be next in line for QB1 duties. Rudolph has started nine games during his Steelers career, including eight in 2019, when Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 2.