AFC North Roundup: Ben Roethlisberger Cleared to Play, Bengals Don't Care Who Browns' QB is, Timmy Jernigan Not Out to Hurt Anyone

In this week's AFC North Roundup, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is cleared from his concussion, the Cincinnati Bengals are ready for anything from the Browns and Ravens defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan is not seeking to injure anyone

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been removed from the NFL’s concussion protocol and is practicing in full with his team, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo reported on Wednesday. Roethlisberger self-reported the concussion to team doctors late in the Steelers’ 39-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He was then diagnosed with the brain injury on Tuesday when he failed an ImPACT Test. Roethlisberger re-took the test Wednesday morning, passed, and was thus cleared to return to the practice field. 

Roethlisberger initially said on Tuesday that he was not diagnosed with a concussion; later that day, at his press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin said that it was indeed a concussion that Roethlisberger had suffered. Roethlisberger was frustrated—not by the diagnosis, but how it was announced, saying, “I had no symptoms of a concussion. No dizziness, no nausea, none of that stuff that comes with it. When I told the doctors, Dr. Maroon and the training staff said I didn’t have a concussion. That’s why I was so confused [Tuesday] when Coach Tomlin said I had one. They need to get together and tell their players and what’s going on because I was just relaying what the doctors told me.”

He also noted that if he were a much younger player, he may have chose not to report his symptoms. But that now, an older player with a family to consider, “That’s the one part of your body you shouldn’t mess with.” But, regardless, Roethlisberger is cleared to return to the playing field and will serve as the Steelers’ starter when they host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night.

Cincinnati Bengals: Bengals Don’t Care Who Browns’ Quarterback Is

Johnny Manziell. Austin Davis. To the Cincinnati Bengals, it doesn’t matter who Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine named the team’s starting quarterback for Week 13, they’ll be ready either way. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, via Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, said “We’ve got to defend the offense and what they do in run and pass and then work from there,” and, as far as the quarterback is concerned, “We can’t get caught up in that—that’s not our issue.”

Owczarski notes that this isn’t the first time the Bengals haven’t entirely known right away which quarterback they would be facing in a given week. Tyrod Taylor or E.J. Manuel, against the Buffalo Bills? They didn’t care. Ben Roethlisberger or Landry Jones for the Pittsburgh Steelers? They prepared for both. Even last week, they weren’t sure if they’d be facing Case Keenum or Nick Foles when taking on the St. Louis Rams.

Bengals safety George Iloka understands that his defense does not have much film of Davis to go on, but to him, that’s not a problem: “[The Browns] have their playbook, they have their system—you’re not going to change so much around in three days. The game plan is really in by Wednesday, so, they played on Monday. I don’t think they changed their whole playbook around in two, three days.”

Davis is the 15th starting quarterback for the Browns in 26 meetings with the Bengals. But Cincinnati will be prepared for anything on offense on Sunday, not just Davis himself. And because the Bengals have dealt with this situation before, they are far more comfortable adjusting to any quarterback they may face moving forward.

Baltimore Ravens: Defensive Tackle Timmy Jernigan Doesn’t Want to Hurt Quarterbacks

Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is building a reputation for being a “quarterback killer,” this year, but it’s not one he’s willing to embrace. One of his hits led to the concussion suffered by St. Louis Rams quarterback Case Keenum and another contributed to the broken collarbone suffered by Browns quarterback Josh McCown, ending his season in Week 12. He does not take pride in these injuries his opponents have suffered.

“It's never my intention to go out and hurt anyone. I try to play the game as clean as possible because that's how I want somebody to play against me. I don't like dirty players myself,” said Jernigan to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. Jernigan is quickly becoming one of the Ravens’ top pass-rushers, with three sacks and 14 quarterback hits through 11 games and he’s trying to balance his aggression with size that makes it hard to slow down once he gets moving. Jernigan said, “It's very tough, especially when you're 300-plus pounds like me. When you get running full speed, it's hard to stop. That's kind of the beauty of the game. That's what makes every sack precious.”

But a man of his size running full speed can certainly result in injuries, intentional or not. As Jernigan said, this does not make him a dirty player. It does, however, make him someone opposing offenses need to plan around, if only to keep their quarterback upright and on the field for the entire game. And Ravens head coach John Harbaugh says this isn’t Jernigan’s ceiling by any means, saying of the lineman, “He’s really starting to get a feel for turning that motor up a notch every single week, and I think he can keep doing it. I think he has a couple more notches in him, as far as his energy level, because he’s talented.”Jernigan’s apologies are certainly welcome ones. He’s obviously not out to hurt anyone. But someone like him definitely can, as we’ve already seen. 

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