One About the Thumb

In private, questions are asked about the injury to Big Ben's thumb

Ben Roethlisberger continues to complain about his injured right thumb, although many others in the organization privately say it does not affect his play much.

"It's pretty bad, it's painful," Roethlisberger said. "It affects pretty much every pass because I can't put as much pressure on the thumb. It makes the ball wobble a little bit more, not quite a tight spiral. If we have a windy day, we're going to have to find a way to get a tighter spiral."

Roethlisberger will wear a protective brace under a glove the rest of the season. He wore the brace Sunday against the Bengals and produced career highs with 29 completions, 41 attempts, 386 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Coach Bill Cowher has been terse with the media whenever he's asked about Roethlisberger's thumb. This week, asked if he's concerned about it, he snapped one word: "No."

He also will not divulge what is wrong with the thumb.

"He's playing," Cowher said. "So really, what difference does it make?"

Twice he's refused to say whether he thought the injury bothered his quarterback or not.

"I can't speak for him. He played the whole game the other day."

Cedrick Wilson caught a 41-yard pass against Cincinnati on Sunday that was underthrown, and Roethlisberger told him he would have thrown it longer "if I was healthy."

"I threw it as far as I could, and it only went about 40 yards," Roethlisberger said. "It just affects you when you throw."

The Steelers don't want him to throw much against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, not with rookie Trai Essex again playing for injured Pro Bowl left tackle Marvel Smith.

Roethlisberger was knocked down early in the second quarter last Sunday as he threw a pass Sunday. He braced his fall with his right hand, then fluttered a pass on the next play that was intercepted.

"That was something we talked about when I talked to the hand doctor," Roethlisberger said. "He said whatever you do, don't fall. If you're going to fall, fall on your shoulder, go all the way down, don't put your hand down.

"That's kind of hard to tell someone to do, so I did, I put my hand down, it made it pretty painful and obviously the next play was an interception. I just have to be careful not to injure it."

He said it's possible he might have to have surgery on his thumb after the season.

"Well, we don't know yet," he said. "We're going to have to wait and see. That stuff's a little bit away, but if it doesn't get any better, then we might have to."

Roethlisberger is the No. 3 passer in the NFL with a 101.5 rating.

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