Roethlisberger will miss Sunday's game

PITTSBURGH – No news on Wednesday did not mean good news for Ben Roethlisberger, who underwent surgery Thursday morning on a lateral meniscus tear and will miss at least one game, probably two.

The Steelers kept quiet about Roethlisberger's MRI results Wednesday as they spent the day trying to convince their young quarterback to undergo arthroscopic surgery. They Fed Ex-ed the MRI results to Dr. James Andrews, the noted sports physician, who helped convince Roethlisberger that night to undergo arthroscopic surgery the next morning.

The 15-minute procedure was performed by Dr. Jim Bradley, the Steelers' team physician, at UPMC St. Margaret in Aspinwall.

"The consensus was," said Steelers coach Bill Cowher, "this was something that, if we let it go and he played this week, the longer he went with this the risk of injury would increase and he could be out for an extended period of time."

Cowher said Roethlisberger will miss Sunday's game at Green Bay "and we'll assess it next Tuesday."

The meniscus is a half-moon shape piece of cartilage that lies below the weight-bearing joint surfaces of the femur and the tibia. It's attached to the lining of the knee joint along its periphery and plays an important role in absorbing about a third of the impact load that the joint cartilage sees.

Cowher said the tear "was on the side of small" and "there was no repair needed. There is a difference between repairing a tear and cleaning up the area around the tear or taking out the portion of the tear."

Roethlisberger suffered the injury in his right knee the opening week of the season and has been bothered by it "off and on," according to Cowher. Roethlisberger missed a game Oct. 16 because of a hyperextended left knee, and aggravated the right knee Oct. 31 on a hit by Baltimore's Jarret Johnson.

Before playing again, Roethlisberger will need to show the team his range of motion is back. Cowher expects that to occur within 10 to 14 days, but there's a chance Roethlisberger could play Nov. 13 against Cleveland.

"As you know, with some of these things, you can continue to go on and play, but the risk long term is that it can become a bone bruise and then it becomes more of a four to six-week injury," Cowher said. "I feel good about the fact that we did what we did and took a proactive approach."

Roethlisberger will be replaced at quarterback by Charlie Batch, an eight-year veteran who hasn't started a game since 2001.

Batch, a native of Homestead, was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1998 and became the starter in the third game that season. He remained the team's starter through 2001, but was released the following June and signed with the Steelers. In three years with the team, he's completed 4 of 8 passes for 47 yards.

"I've been here before," said Batch. "I think that's something a lot of people forget. It's not something that's new to me. It's not like I woke up overnight and all of the sudden it's happened. I've been there and that's what I have to use to my advantage."

"We will be tested by this set of circumstances," Cowher said. "It's going to be a defining moment for this football team."

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