Q&A: Ben Roethlisberger

Injured QB shows up on crutches for team's only practice day.

BEN ROETHLISBERGBER, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: How are you?

BR: A little sore. Disappointed, obviously. I want to be out there with my guys in a divisional game, Baltimore at home, so, it's definitely tough.

Q: Is there relief that this wasn't an ACL?

BR: Yes, it was. Obviously you're always scared of season-ending ACL surgery. Doc got in and said he thinks he feels the ACL but still want to get an MRI. You still have that little bit of nerves until you get the MRI and he tells you afterwards. Definitely some relief but still frustration.

Q: Did you feel something pop in there?

BR: I felt something. What they concluded was that two bones smacked together, which caused the bone bruise. That was the pain I felt initially.

Q: Any sense it's going to be on the short end of the 4-6 weeks?

BR: I don't know. Trying to talk to doctors. Trying to drink my milk and try to get back as fast as I can. We'll take it week by week. I know I'm out this week. We'll re-evaluate next week and go from there. There's no way to put a timetable on it.

Q: Is the bone bruise the bigger issue? Or is the healing of the MCL the bigger issue?

BR: Both. I'm not a doctor but I think the MCL is the issue with the stability. The bone bruise is the issue with the pain, dealing with pain and stuff. You guys know me. I can go deal with a lot of pain but this is pretty painful.

Q: It looked like he grabbed lower on the leg. Was that the bone?

BR: Well, initially my whole my knee, my leg, everything hurt and eventually my knee started to feel a little bit better relatively speaking. As I was going off the field I told Doc, 'I feel like my leg's broke,' like my lower leg was broke. It just felt really bad and that's when he said that was the bone bruise, the effect I felt.

Q: Did you have a problem with the hit?

BR: No. I thought it was a legal hit. No, excuse me. I don't think it was a dirty hit. I don't believe he was trying to take me out. But according to rules it was a low hit so maybe he should've been flagged, but I don't think he intentionally tried to do anything to hurt me.

Q: Is that rule -- the so-called Brady Rule -- one they try to enforce regularly? Or have they let go over the years?

BR: I think they try to do a good job enforcing it. I think it's hard. From watching on film, the guy fell initially. It's tough because you've got to ask a guy to get back on his feet and try to do something. That's why I said I don't think it was dirty. I think he was already kind of low and the best way to go was for him to kind of lunge for me.

Q: Will your patience be tested here?

BR: Yes. It already is. It's frustrating. I want to be out there with my guys. So, we'll have to be smart. We kind of walk that line. We don't have a timeline right now. Maybe that's the best way to keep yourself from being too anxious to get back out there.

Q: How long will you be on crutches?

BR: Till the pain gets a little bit better and the MCL stables up a little bit I guess.

Q: No surgery?

BR: Correct.

Q: What's the key for Michael Vick to hold this together?

BR: Be the best he can be. We brought him in here for a reason. He's got a lot of experience. He's got a good group around him here, and everybody's got to do their job and I think we'll be just fine. He's a guy who's proved he can throw the ball, he can run the ball. He put the work and the time in so I think he'll be just fine.

Q: Have you had constructive conversations with him, acclimating him to the offense and just talking football?

BR: Absolutely. We're in the same room all the time. We're communicating. He's talking to me; I'm talking to him. Even typical backup stuff. He's talking to me about things he sees. I think that's what's special about the quarterback room, it always has been since I've been here, whether it's Byron (Leftwich) or Charlie (Batch) or Tommy (Maddox), whoever it was, to Bruce (Gradkowski), Landry (Jones), all these guys. We all communicate well together. We try to help each other out because we all want the best for each other. It's not a selfish room at all. He's helped me and I'm going to continue to do what I can to help him.

Q: How much will you be involved in getting him ready?

BR: A lot. I'm here. I'm in meetings. I don't want to overwhelm him because I'm sure he's already going to be overwhelmed with a lot of stuff. I'll do whatever I can to help him, communicate with him. I'll lay back unless he really needs something, but if I see something I'll speak up.

Q: Do you feel he has a good grasp of the offense?

BR: Yes. I do. I think he does. And I think we'll do some stuff. We'll tweak some things and do some stuff that utilizes his strengths. He's a way better runner than I am, so maybe you'll see some of that. For the most part you'll just see our offense and see guys step up and play great football.

Q: Can this line adapt to changes for a mobile quarterback? Like rolling the pocket?

BR: Absolutely. Very athletic. I don't know how much we'll do of it. We're meeting here in a little while to really go over stuff. I think that if there was a group that could do it, it's this one.

Q: Where will you be Thursday night? The sidelines?

BR: I'm trying to convince Coach Tomlin to let me be on the sideline. I'm still negotiating that with him. I guess he has a no-crutch rule on the sideline, so if I can get rid of these we'll see what happens.

Q: Wouldn't that help Vick?

BR: That's my argument with him. I want to be there because I want to be able to communicate with him, with my line. These are guys I've known a long time and have been around. I'm still going to do everything I can to be a leader and be out there for them. If I see something, if I've got to talk to A.B. or talk to Le'Veon or whoever it is, I want to be there. If I can help Mike in any way, I'd like to do that.

Q: Have you looked at the schedule and pinpointed a game by which to return?

BR: Yeah. Thursday. But we have to be realistic and see where we go. Like I said, it's going to be one week at a time. I want to get back as soon as I can, but we also have to be smart and not get too crazy.

Q: Can you play in a brace?

BR: I don't know. I've never done it. I've been told I'm going to have to learn so we'll get ready as fast as I can. I told Doc I'd do it for a couple weeks, but I don't know if I can do it the whole time. We'll see. It might slow me down. I'm pretty fast.

Q: Have you had this specific injury before?

BR: In San Diego, 2005-ish, this knee got hyperextended but I don't know to what extent we had the rest of it. Pretty much every player's had some sort of an MCL sprain at some point. This one's a little bit more severe than I've had; one of the worst bone bruises I've had. We've had issues. I've had a hyperextension of my left knee before, but it was my good knee. Now I've got two good knees.


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