Denver Broncos defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban wasn't shy in his scouting report of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who the Broncos play this Sunday.
Ekuban said he wanted to see Ben Roethlisberger start at quarterback for the Steelers. He said Pittsburgh is playing better with backup Charlie Batch right now.
"Ben has not been playing his best football this year, thus far, and we want to kind of keep that going with him in there," Ekuban said. "(Batch) is coming in there, and it seems like the offense gets an extra spark when he's in there, and it seems like he has a little more mobility, so I just pray that Ben plays another game, before hopefully they sit him down. Come on, one more game."
The Broncos were picked apart by Roethlisberger in the AFC Championship Game last season. Roethlisberger completed 21 of 29 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns in a win.
He has been bothered by injuries this year, first from an offseason motorcycle accident, then an emergency appendectomy, and a concussion suffered last week. Ekuban remembers what Roethlisberger did last year but thinks that he is struggling this year.
"Nothing against Ben; he's a Super Bowl quarterback," Ekuban said. "But the tape doesn't lie, man. I'd rather, right now, face Ben than Charlie Batch, because of how the offense seems to be doing with Charlie Batch in there."
Ekuban said Roethlisberger could turn his season around in the final couple of months.
"If he comes around at the right time, in late November, early December, I think everybody will forget about the early part of the season," Ekuban said.
--QB Jake Plummer has played pretty well his last two games. He's not carrying the offense, but he's not a liability either. A big step for the offense last week was getting the bootleg plays working again. Denver had a lot of success with the bootlegs against Indianapolis. Plummer is comfortable when he can get out of the pocket.
--RB Tatum Bell has to fight through turf toe issues on both big toes. He couldn't cut back against Indianapolis so he took himself out of the game. Bell could be affected by the problem for a while.
--RB Mike Bell was dazzling off the bench against the Colts. The indecisiveness that hurt bell the first few weeks of the season wasn't a problem. He hit holes hard, then either made people miss in the open field or ran them over. He earned some more playing time against Pittsburgh.
--WR Javon Walker had a modest day against the Colts, with four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos tried going deep to him early but Jake Plummer slightly overthrew Walker. The Broncos will continue to take shots downfield with Walker, who is great in jump ball situations. --WR Rod Smith had another down week, with two catches for 28 yards. Smith's stats are way down this season. Part of that is the overall struggle of the passing game this season and also Javon Walker's emergence as Denver's No. 1 receiver. Also, Smith is 36 years old and is on the back end of his career.
--TE Tony Scheffler looked confident in his breakout game against Indianapolis. He caught four passes and even had a run on an end around. Scheffler could have a good second half, because the Broncos like getting the second tight end involved. Jeb Putzier, Denver's second tight end last year, was the Broncos' third leading receiver.
--K Jason Elam hit a big 49-yard field goal to tie Sunday's game against Indianapolis with less than two minutes remaining. Elam is one of the best clutch kickers in the NFL and the Broncos feel comfortable with him kicking in pressure situations.
--CB Champ Bailey didn't see much action against the Colts. They tested him a few times, unlike most opponents this season, but preferred to go at Darrent Williams and work the middle of the field than go Bailey's way, even though Bailey was on Marvin Harrison most of the day.
--DE Elvis Dumervil had a tough day against the Colts. He had five sacks in two games against Oakland and Cleveland, but the Colts did a good job against him. Dumervil wasn't alone - the Broncos failed to get much rush at all with their front four.
--DT Gerard Warren is a big key for the Broncos this week. If he can't play, it will be a void against Pittsburgh's power running game. Warren has a sprained big right toe and he didn't play last week. The Broncos will evaluate his status through the week.
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