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Ben Roethlisberger to start for Pittsburgh Steelers

The wait on Big Ben is over.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Thursday that starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will make his return Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

Not a surprise after Roethlisberger -- on the way back from rib and shoulder injuries -- practiced for the second consecutive day and made Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's decision an easy one.

"He has been above the line in all areas," Tomlin said in a statement released by the Steelers. "Really, the only question we can't answer is taking a hit. Obviously that will be answered in the stadium on Sunday.

"I am extremely comfortable with his ability to work the field both vertically and horizontally. He has great velocity on his ball. We're ready to go."

NFL.com's Aditi Kinkhabwala reported Big Ben took 80 to 90 percent of first-team snaps Thursday. "I felt good," he told Kinkhabwala.

The Steelers stopped the bleeding and potentially saved their season with last Sunday's win over the Baltimore Ravens. They have Charlie Batch and a scrappy defense to thank for that, but there's no question how different this team is with Roethlisberger under center. His return cannot come soon enough; the Steelers just hope it's not too late.

UPDATE: Roethlisberger said last week that his shoulder pads had been "juiced up" by the team trainers. He will play with a custom fit rib/chest compression shirt and a layer of Kevlar-lined composite in his shoulder pads, The Associated Press reported, to help absorb hits to his clavicle and shoulder joint regions.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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