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Ben Roethlisberger: Ability determines availability

Most local reports surrounding Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger claim that he's unlikely to play this week. The national reports seem to believe his chances are closer to 50-50.

Roethlisberger certainly provided hope Thursday with his comments and another day of throwing. He told NFL.com's Aditi Kinkhabwala that his availability all comes down to arm strength and how much "zip" he has on the ball. The potential of his broken rib hitting his aorta no longer is a concern.

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"I can play through a lot of pain, so that is a little bit," Roethlisberger said. "But mostly it's just to me, ability. Can I make the long throw? Can I put a lot of zip on the ball, throw it really hard before people like Ed Reed and defenders can get to the ball, because if I can't, then I'm not putting this team in the best situation to win games."

If he plays, Roethlisberger will wear extra padding on his shoulder and his usual rib protector. He will have to worry about playing behind an untested right tackle on a banged-up offensive line.

"There's always a chance," Roethlisberger said when asked if he'd face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The Steelers put Roethlisberger back on the field too quickly last year after he hurt his ankle. He never was the same the rest of the season. If Roethlisberger can deliver the ball down the field, though, it's hard to imagine the team playing it safe with him.

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