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Big Ben expected to run entire playbook despite injury


Ben Roethlisberger has a separated shoulder. He has torn ligaments in that separated shoulder. He missed practices this week because he couldn't throw. But he is listed as active for Sunday's Divisional Round matchup against the Denver Broncos.

Given all those facts, logic dictates that even if he plays, Big Ben should be hindered, especially throwing the ball down the field.

Apparently, logic is faulty.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning on NFL Network's GameDay First that Big Ben threw the ball well in practice on Friday and should be fine to run the entire playbook.

Every game, all season

"Of course, the assumption would be, considering the type of injuries he has, that he'll be a little limited today," Rapoport said. "But my understanding is that's not really the case. I would expect to see Roethlisberger -- arm-strength-wise -- actually himself on the field. They should have the full playbook available."

Big Ben admitted after last week's dramatic win over the Cincinnati Bengals that he couldn't throw the ball down the field as the Steelers marched towards a game-winning field goal with a series of short passes before being aided by Bengals penalties.

After missing several drives after injuring the shoulder, Roethlisberger averaged just 1.7 air yards per attempt after returning in the final drive. During the regular season he averaged 10.1 air yards per attempt (fourth-most in NFL).

With Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams already ruled out, employing restricted Roethlisberger against the NFL's No. 1 ranked pass defense -- the only team holding opponents under 200 pass yards per game in 2015 -- would have been disastrous. Exploiting the entire playbook and stretching the defense with Martavis Bryant is the best way for the Steelers to puncture the Broncos stout secondary. Even if most of his passes are of the dink-and-dunk variety, the mere threat of the deep ball should keep Denver honest.

We've come to expect greatness from Roethlisberger, even when he's injured. But after seeing him barely throw with any potency last week, that he'll have the full playbook to work from seems astonishing. Then again, even a hindered Big Ben is better than whatever Landry Jones would have displayed.


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