PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger practiced for the first time Wednesday since spraining the MCL and bruising a bone in his left knee against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 27.
Doctors believed Roethlisberger would miss four to six games, but after missing only two he's expressed interest in playing Sunday against his friend Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals.
Before Wednesday's practice, Roethlisberger said he would take part in only one period, the seven-on-seven passing period. He said the key indicator of whether he will be able to play is how well he can protect himself in the pocket.
And the verdict?
Well, the Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers were honest, by degree, and the final verdict is that Roethlisberger won't play. Here's how we got there:
Q: Arthur Moats, how did Ben look today?
AM: "He was moving good and throwing pretty well. You can tell he's still been in it mentally and has been putting in the work physically, so it's pretty exciting to see how he's progressing."
Q: Will he be ready to play this week?
AM: "That's above my pay grade. That's the guy right there you want to talk to."
Q: Sean Spence, how did Ben look today?
SS: "I thought he looked good."
Q: What did you like?
SS: "What's not to like? It's Ben. Everything."
Q: Moats said he doesn't get paid enough to judge whether he can play Sunday. He said to ask you.
SS: "What?! That's WAY above my pay scale. You better ask someone else."
Q: Law Dawg, how did Ben look out there today?
Lawrence Timmons: "Out where?"
Q: At practice.
LT: "What was he doing?"
LT: "I didn't even know he was out there, to be honest."
Q: Didn't you do seven-on-seven?
LT: "I did, but I didn't pay him no mind. I didn't even know he was out there. When I get in practice mode I'm just going."
Q: James, how did Ben look out there today?
James Harrison: "Aahhhh, I think he looked all right."
Q: Think he's ready to play?
THAT'S HOW YOU THROW THE BALL
Mike Vick made one of the best catches in Wednesday's practice, at least that anyone would talk about.
Vick confirmed that he ran deep and caught a pass from Antonio Brown between two defenders after first tipping and then juggling the ball. Vick turned and ran to the end zone and spiked the ball before being mobbed by teammates. It was the perfect way to end practice.
"It was awesome," said Vick. "Maybe I'm playing the wrong position."
Vick added that he shouldn't have spiked the ball. "Shouldn't taunt my teammates like that, especially (Antwon) Blake," Vick said of the cornerback.
For the left-handed Brown, it served as an example for what he wants Vick to do to him.
"I told him that's how you throw the ball," Brown said amidst an exchange with reporters about wanting the ball more often.
"Yeah, he's got to take some shots, man," Brown said. "I told him 'Trust me a little bit. Let me make some plays and let's get a victory. It doesn't have to be that hard.'"
After catching 29 passes from Roethlisberger in two-and-a-half games (plus one series), Brown has caught only eight passes from Vick in nearly the same amount of playing time.
"I didn't think I got the ball enough," Brown said. "But, you know, I always got to stay positive. Obviously my guy's not at quartrback. Mike Vick's out there and I think he's just playing conservative to make sure he gets the win."
LOAF OF BREAD
It was the highlight of Blake's playing career, the 70-yard interception return for a touchdown Monday night that jump-started the Steelers against the San Diego Chargers.
But the Steelers cornerback also received some blowback for carrying the ball through traffic with one hand gripping it like the proverbial loaf of bread.
"I've gotten a little bit of flack on social media," Blake said. "My friends have been talking a little crap about how I held the ball."
Did coordinator Keith Butler say anything to Blake?
"No," Blake said. "But I know from just watching the film I could've carried the ball a little bit better. But that's in the past."
Blake said he's more concerned with the coaching critique about the other aspects of his play Monday night.
"In that game I missed a few tackles," he said. "For myself, being known as a tackling corner, that's not something people are used to seeing from me. That's definitely something I need to work on."
Blake also changed tempo during his touchdown return, like he was Le'Veon Bell waiting for his blocking to develop.
"Exactly. That's what I was telling people," Blake said. "I kind of learned that from watching Le'Veon a little bit. He's so patient that sometimes you get irritated because you don't know what he's going to do. But once I got the ball I kind of understood where he was coming from because you just have to wait a little bit sometimes."