Vinlove / USA TODAY Sports Images

Landry, Ladarius, Le'Veon

The Steelers turn to Landry Jones, Ladarius Green and Le'Veon Bell.

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger underwent surgery to trim the meniscus in his left knee, and according to a statement issued by Mike Tomlin the Steelers "are confident the injury is not long term."

It's expected to be at worst a three-week injury, but Roethlisberger's assumed replacement, Landry Jones, believes Roethlisberger could even play this week.

"Philip Rivers did it, didn't he?" Jones asked of the San Diego quarterback, who returned in six days for the AFC Championship Game following the 2007 season.

"You never know what's going to happen," Jones said.

The most likely scenario has Jones taking the snaps against the 5-1 New England Patriots on Sunday at Heinz Field, and he said he's never been more prepared.

"I've been here four years now and nothing has really changed," Jones said. "Being at the same place, having the same offensive coordinator and learning the same thing, you know it in and out. Obviously there are things to grow, and game experience, but as far as the offense is concerned I feel like I have it down pretty well."

Jones started two games last season and played in seven, counting the playoff game at Cincinnati. The Steelers were 1-1 in his starts (lost at Kansas City, won vs. Cleveland) and Jones "saved" a win against Arizona in relief of Michael Vick. Jones pulled out a win in relief against Oakland with a game-winning field goal drive, and almost blew a "save" in the playoff game before Roethlisberger returned to pull out the win, with help of course from Vontaze Burfict and Pacman Jones.

Overall, Jones' passer rating last season was 67.6. That came on the heels of a busy preseason in which he compiled a passer rating of 76.5. His preseason passer rating this year was 71.4, but guard Ramon Foster believes Jones was better this preseason.

"He was. He's grown," Foster said. "The thing is it's shown that he's grown.

"He doesn't want to repeat back to last year. He wants to be a guy on the rise. He's got a lot at stake, too. This is the fourth year of his contract. Decisions have to be made, and I know he's facing that window right there, too, so it's time for him to show us."

Le'Veon Bell believes the practice week will be beneficial for Jones.

"We've just got to get Landry confidence," Bell said. "When he's confident, he makes plays. When he has pep in his step, I think Landry can strike and do a  lot of good things. He's not as comfortable as Ben is, so we've got to get him to the point where he's real confident and feels like he can do no wrong. That's when he can strike. We don't want him tense and thinking about too many things at once."


Perhaps Landry can be helped by the Steelers debut of 6-5 3/4 tight end Ladarius Green, who discussed with the coaching staff Monday his potential to practice this week.

Green, of course, has been on the PUP list since the start of training camp and is eligible to come off this week. He has five weeks to begin practicing, and once he begins practicing the Steelers have 21 days to activate him. If either deadline passes, Green must remain on the PUP list the remainder of the season.

He said he's ready now and awaits Tomlin's decision before Wednesday's practice.

"I feel pretty good," Green said. "It's been a while since I've played, as you guys know. It's been a while since I even practiced, so I feel good about it. I'm excited to get back out there and see what I can do."

Green has worked through head and ankle issues since he signed a four-year $20 million contract last March as the team's premium free agent. He missed every spring and summer practice as he worked on the sideline with trainers. He said the final sticking point was his jumping ability, that he had trouble "getting a real spring off this ankle, but it's come a long way."

Has this been his longest layoff in football?

"Yes it is," he said. "I feel like it's been forever. Feel like I retired and came back. It's been a while, but I'm excited about it."

Green last year caught 37 passes for 429 yards and four touchdowns before missing the final game with his injury. His career average per catch is 14.1 yards, with a long of 60. He's been considered a deep threat ever since coming out of Lousiana-Lafayette and running a 4.56 40 at the 2012 Combine.

Mentally, Green said he's studied and been drilled on the playbook, but transferring it to the field is the big question.

"There's a big difference," he said.

Could he play against New England?

"I hope so but I don't know," he said. "That's up to the coach."

What could he bring to the team?

"Hopefully I can bring something," Green said. "I'm just trying to make the team, really, because I haven't shown anything. They don't know what I can do and the tight ends have been playing well so far, so I'm just trying to get on the field right now."


Wide receivers always want the ball, always tell everyone they want the ball, and often complain when they don't get the ball enough.

Running backs, or more specifically Le'Veon Bell, don't seem to care so much.

"Of course, as a player you always want the ball," he said, "but obviously when the play is called I'm going to go out there and run the play."

That was his response to not getting the ball on third-and-1 in Jones' first series at quarterback in Miami, after Bell had carried three times for 26 yards during the possession.

Jones threw incomplete on the play, the Steelers punted and the Dolphins scored to take a 16-8 lead into the break.

Bell had carried eight times for 51 yards in the first half for a whopping average of 6.4 yards per carry, but in the second half carried twice. He totaled 10 carries for 53 yards rushing and caught six passes for another 55 yards.

Did he want the ball more often, particularly with Roethlisberger back in the game and limping?

"I don't really think too much about it," Bell said. "I go out there and play football. If they give me the ball, I'll take it. I just want to do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's me having the ball, taking it, catching it. I just want to win the game and we didn't do that."

Will he ask coordinator Todd Haley to give him more of the load if a backup QB is playing next Sunday?

"I don't say anything," Bell said. "I let everything happen. Run the rock, I'm good with it. If not, I try to do whatever I can in the offense."

Steel City Insider Top Stories