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Big Ben's thumb painful as Steelers return; Woodley 'day to day'

PITTSBURGH -- The pain in Ben Roethlisberger's fractured right thumb isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Then again, grimacing a little bit when he grips the ball sure beats the alternative for the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback: not playing.

Roethlisberger practiced with a splint under his glove Monday and admitted there's a twinge when he takes the snap.

"It's definitely different," Roethlisberger said. "It hurts, first off, just to grip the ball. It's something you have to get used to. I want to get some reps, I wanted to throw some (today)."

Roethlisberger expects to play Sunday when the Steelers (7-3) travel to Kansas City, even if it means making a few adjustments to the playbook.

He didn't take a snap from under center Monday, instead opting to work out of the shotgun and pistol formations to protect the thumb from getting smacked by a direct snap from center Maurkice Pouncey.

It's too early in the week to tell what that will mean against the Chiefs, though it wouldn't be the first time the Steelers modify their gameplan to accommodate Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger sustained the injury in the second half of a win over Cincinnati on Nov. 13 but didn't miss a play.

While Roethlisberger expects to play, linebacker LaMarr Woodley's status remains day to day. Woodley hasn't played since suffering a strained hamstring in a victory over New England on Oct. 30.

"It's just getting better every day," Woodley said. "I mean the worst thing about this hamstring injury is that it takes time to heal."

Woodley participated in a few drills with the first team Monday but spent most of the practice working out alone. He was playing arguably the best football of his career before the injury, yet stressed he's in no hurry to return despite weekly promises that he'll be good to go.

"You look at guys across the league coming back too early sometimes and next thing you know they're out 2-3 more weeks," Woodley said. "I'm just trying to be smart about it."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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