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Ben Roethlisberger practices with Pittsburgh Steelers

All signs point to Ben Roethlisberger returning to the field this week for the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's the only takeaway possible after listening to coach Mike Tomlin's comments Wednesday.

"I saw him make the necessary throws today," Tomlin said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, calling the quarterback's performance "positive."

Roethlisberger, who's suffering from a sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib, fully practiced Wednesday.

"I'm getting there," Roethlisberger said, via The Associated Press. "I've got to talk to (tight end) Heath (Miller). He's my barometer. He lets me know how close I am to 100 percent on velocity and stuff like that."

Tomlin indicated that the next test was to see how Roethlisberger responds and feels Thursday. Barring a setback, it sure sounds like Big Ben will be back in the lineup Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

"We'll see what (Thursday) holds for us," Tomlin said, via The AP. "We'll make sure that there (are) no steps backward (Thursday) morning."

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The margin for error in the AFC wild-card race remains small, but we love the Steelers' chances of making the playoffs with a healthy Roethlisberger. Their defense is playing better than it has all season, in large part because linebacker James Harrison is playing closer to his old self.

When we look back on the season, backup QB Charlie Batch's performance last weekend against the Baltimore Ravens might be the difference in the Steelers making it to January.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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