Quick Links

Roethlisberger has rib injury too, out vs. Ravens

201211122239815791901-p2.jpeg

Roethlisberger has rib injury too, out vs. Ravens

PITTSBURGH (AP) Right arm tucked into a black sling, weary eyes betraying a decided lack of sleep, Ben Roethlisberger tried to stay positive after the worst - and by far the most harrowing - injury of his career.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback believes he can return this season despite spraining his right shoulder and suffering what he called a dislocated rib in Monday night's overtime win against Kansas City.

He's just not sure when he'll be ready. And his medical team appears nowhere close to figuring out how exactly to get him there.

``From what (the doctor) said he's trying to talk to experts because there is no case study over the exact same thing,'' Roethlisberger said Wednesday. ``We're just trying to talk to people ... because we don't know.''

All Roethlisberger knows for certain is that doctors are concerned the rib - which he injured while getting sacked by a pair of Kansas City linebackers in the third quarter on Monday - could puncture his aorta if jostled around.

He also knows he'll be a spectator indefinitely while the surging Steelers (6-3) try to track down AFC North-leading Baltimore (7-2). The rivals meet twice over the next three weeks, with the first showdown coming Sunday night at Heinz Field. Veteran backup Byron Leftwich will take the snaps in Roethlisberger's place, looking for his first win as a starter in six years.

``I'm not going to go out there and try and be Ben,'' Leftwich said. ``We see the game differently. He's physically able to do some things that I can't do but that doesn't mean I can't go out there and do my job.''

The Steelers have been forced to play with Roethlisberger occasionally over the last nine seasons, going 8-5 without their franchise cornerstone since 2004. Four of those losses, however, have come against the Ravens.

Still, Roethlisberger remains optimistic he'll be back to work at some point over the next seven weeks. Asked if he thinks the injury is season-ending, the two-time Super Bowl winner shrugged his one good shoulder and attempted to remain upbeat.

``I don't think so, I don't know though but I'm not a medical expert,'' Roethlisberger said. ``I just know I'm going to do what I can to get back.''

At the moment, doing nothing appears to be the smartest course after his season came to a stunning halt early in the third quarter against the Chiefs.

Roethlisberger was stepping up in the pocket trying to extend a third-down play when Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston wrapped up his legs and teammate Tamba Hali drove all of his 265 pounds into Roethlisberger's chest and slammed him to the turf. The quarterback's right arm dug into his side at the moment of impact, dislocating the rib and sending a jagged edge perilously close to the aorta.

``When I hit the ground is kind of when I felt something not right, like a crunch or a crack,'' Roethlisberger said. ``It's kind of hard to explain.''

What's easy to explain is the pain, which Roethlisberger described as ``nine on a scale of 1-10.'' Most of the misery is coming from the rib and he joked he'll likely have to hold his son - who is due to arrive sometime in the next few weeks - with in his left arm instead of his right.

Unless Roethlisberger learns to throw with his left arm too, Pittsburgh's playoff chances will rest with Leftwich. The former first-round pick hasn't started a game in three years and hasn't won one since 2006. He went 7 of 14 for 73 yards in relief against the Chiefs, leading Pittsburgh to a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

``My first few plays I felt like everybody was moving faster than me,'' Leftwich said. ``Maybe that is because I'm slower than everybody. When you ain't out there, let's just be honest, it just takes awhile to get back.''

A full week of practice and the fact he's spent four of the last five seasons as Roethlisberger's primary backup means Leftwich isn't exactly starting from scratch.

Early in his career, Leftwich was one of the most promising quarterbacks in the league. Taken with the seventh overall pick by Jacksonville in the 2003 draft, Leftwich led the Jaguars to a playoff berth in 2005 before things fell apart. He lost his starting job to David Garrard a year later then bounced around between Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay before returning to the Steelers for good in 2010.

Leftwich missed all but one game in 2010 due to a knee injury and spent all of 2011 on injured reserve after breaking his arm during a preseason game. Yet the Steelers have kept him around because of his close relationship with Roethlisberger and his arm, which remains one of the strongest in the league. Leftwich actually overthrew speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace on a fly pattern against the Chiefs, a rare feat.

``We have all the confidence in the world in Byron,'' Wallace said. ``He's been in this league a long time, and he's played a lot of games. We just need to work on some things in practice this week with him at quarterback, and I'm sure we'll be ready to go by the time the game comes around.''

Roethlisberger will be there in Leftwich's ear offering assistance when necessary, just as Leftwich has done for him through the years.

``He can make every throw on the football field,'' Roethlisberger said. ``He's going to do just as good if not better.''

---

NOTES: DE Brett Keisel (shoulder), LT Max Starks (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf), RT Marcus Gilbert (ankle), WR Antonio Brown (ankle) LB Chris Carter (abdomen) and Roethlisberger did not practice on Wednesday ... S Ryan Clark was limited in practice after sustaining a concussion against the Chiefs. Clark will meet with team doctors on Thursday for further evaluation.

---

Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

The Ravens announced six players placed on the physically unable to perform list Saturday - linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, linebacker Elvis Dumervil, running back Trent Richardson, and cornerback Jumal Rolle.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), and cornerback Will Davis (knee) were not placed on PUP, indicating they were ready for the team’s first full-team training camp practice Thursday.

Any player on the PUP list can be activated and return to practice at any point prior to the regular season. Once a player is placed on the regular-season PUP list, he must sit out at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

RELATED: WILL SMITH'S BODY BETRAY HIM AGAIN?

Rolle (Achilles injury) is expected to miss the entire season. Here’s the breakdown on the other five PUP list players:

Suggs – He still has not fully recovered from his season-ending Achilles injury suffered in Week 1 last September. Suggs is scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday, where further details about his progress should be revealed.

Smith Sr. – Also recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury suffered in November. Smith said he would not care if he missed the entire preseason. His priority is to be ready by Week 1.

Perriman – He suffered a knee injury during minicamp which did not require season-ending surgery. However, Perriman has still not played a preseason or regular season game since being drafted in the first round in 2015. After two knee injuries in two years, the Ravens have every reason to be cautious with Perriman until they think he is ready to return.

Dumervil – He had offseason foot surgery after playing through pain last season. Dumervil missed mandatory minicamp, but did not sound concerned about being ready for Week 1.

Richardson – His lingering hamstring issue could ruin his bid for an NFL comeback. The Ravens are deep at running back, and Richardson needs to get healthy to have any chance to win a roster spot.

MORE RAVENS: FLACCO HAS LONG ODDS FOR MVP

Quick Links

Best case, worst case scenario for WR Steve Smith Sr.

Best case, worst case scenario for WR Steve Smith Sr.

Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka are taking turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope leading up to veterans reporting to training camp. They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day, concluding with quarterback Joe Flacco on July 25.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Steve Smith Sr., 37-year-old wide receiver

Best-case scenario for Smith:

He enjoys a typical 1,000-yard season, and he remains the Ravens’ top receiver.

Why it could happen:

It’s dangerous to bet against Smith making a full recovery from Achilles surgery, even in the twilight of his career. Few athletes perform with more of a chip on their shoulder than Smith, who is always driven to prove doubters wrong. He’s a technician at route running, he studies film diligently, and he’s a master at using his body and hands to ward off defenders. Smith never relied on pure speed to be a top receiver. So even if he’s a tad less explosive, Smith has the talent to end his career playing at a high level.

Worst-case scenario for Smith:

Smith’s body betrays him, and the Ravens’ depth at wide receiver reduces his playing time and role.

Why it could happen:

Father Time is undefeated, and may finally be calling for Smith. The older an athlete gets, the harder it gets to recover from injuries. With their deep group of tight ends, and the addition of wide receivers Mike Wallace and rookie Chris Moore, the Ravens may not be as dependent on Smith as they have been. Even if Smith is healthy, his role in the offense might be less prominent.

RELATED: FLACCO HAS LONG ODDS FOR MVP

Quick Links

Flacco has same MVP odds as Winston and Mariota

Flacco has same MVP odds as Winston and Mariota

Joe Flacco has been a Super Bowl MVP and has won 10 playoff games. Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston have played one NFL season.

However, all three of those quarterbacks have been given the same odds (100/1) of winning next season’s MVP award by sportsbook Bovada.lv.

People who think Flacco is an elite quarterback may view that as disrespect. But the Bovada.lv odds throw even more shade at Flacco.

Sixteen quarterbacks are given a better chance of winning the MVP award in 2016 than Flacco. Some of the names you would expect, like Aaron Rodgers, who is the favorite at 4/1, followed by Ben Roethlisberger (7/1), Cam Newton (15/2), Russell Wilson (8/1), and Tom Brady (9/1).

But do Blake Bortles (66/1) of the Jaguars or Brock Osweiler of the Texans (66/1) really have a better chance of winning the MVP than Flacco? According to Bovada.lv they do. That’s also an indication that not much is expected from the Ravens overall after their 5-11 season. The better your team does, the better your chances of winning the MVP.

Newton won the MVP last year starting at 50/1 odds. So if you believe in Flacco and the Ravens, those 100/1 MVP odds for Flacco may look like an enticing play.

RELATED: Can Dumervil lead a rebirth of Ravens's pass rush?