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Steelers hopeful that Roethlisberger could return for OTAs in June

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Some in the Pittsburgh Steelers' organization are optimistic that suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could return for organized team activities next month.

The best-case scenario for both sides would be for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to allow Roethlisberger to return for the final two weeks of OTAs in June. The Steelers expect Roethlisberger to be gone at least for the duration of May, according to a source, and there are no guarantees he would be back for June, but team officials quietly hope he could return by then.

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Roethlisberger is undergoing league-mandated evaluations because of his actions in regards to sexual-assault allegations that didn't lead to criminal charges against him. The Steelers fully supported Goodell's April ruling, which included a six-game suspension that could escalate or decrease to four games based on the quarterback's conduct and compliance. Goodell also said Roethlisberger can't participate in the Steelers' offseason activities until he completes the evaluations and is cleared by the league.

Roethlisberger missed last weekend's minicamp, but pending the evaluation results, he could participate in the final stages of offseason work. The Steelers have OTAs scheduled June 1-3 and June 8-10.

Goodell determined that Roethlisberger had violated the NFL's personal-conduct policy and handed down the punishment after prosecutors decided not to charge the quarterback in a case involving a 20-year-old female college student who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Milledgeville, Ga., nightclub on March 5.

"I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you," Goodell said in a letter to Roethlisberger last month. "My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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