Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hasn't announced his intentions at quarterback publicly or within the organization, but it's widely believed in the front office that Ben Roethlisberger will rest his high ankle sprain Saturday against the St. Louis Rams and could sit out Week 17 as well.
Roethlisberger didn't practice Wednesday, two days after he was clearly hobbled during a 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He was immobile and had to adjust his plant foot on throws to compensate for the injury.
With the Steelers assured a playoff spot and trailing the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North title on a tiebreaker, the team will focus on being healthy for the postseason. Even so, Roethlisberger insisted Wednesday he's doing everything he can to help keep Pittsburgh's title hopes alive.
"I've said many times I want to go and I'll try and be ... ready to go," said Roethlisberger, who added the injury "actually feels a lot better than I thought it would."
Charlie Batch will start if Roethlisberger can't play. Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians prefers the veteran to Dennis Dixon, whom others in the organization believe is a more viable starter because of his athleticism and improvisational skills. Should Batch struggle and become a sitting target behind a wounded offensive line, Dixon might see the field.
On Tuesday, Tomlin denied wanting to pull Roethlisberger during Monday night's game, contradicting the quarterback's own account of being approached to come out late. Tomlin did acknowledge that the injury affected Roethlisberger's game.
"I don't think (Tomlin) should be criticized for that," Roethlisberger said Wednesday. "I'm glad he let me go out there and play. I wish I could have played better, and if I would have, I don't think people would have said a thing."
Center Maurkice Pouncey, who missed Monday night's game, likely will sit another week as well, according to sources. Pouncey practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) also was limited, while linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), running back Mewelde Moore (knee) and cornerback Curtis Brown (ankle) were held out.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.