Ben Roethlisberger, who suffered a concussion Sunday in Kansas City but was symptom free and able to practice all week, may opt to sit out Sunday night’s game against the Ravens, according to a league source. Roethlisberger was officially listed as questionable by the Steelers and widely expected to play, but informed coach Mike Tomlin Friday that he might sit out the game as a precaution, according to the source.
Roethlisberger told Tomlin he fears taking another blow to the head so soon after being knocked from a game, and will make a final decision on his playing status on Saturday morning, before team meetings, according to the source. The message caught the organization completely by surprise, as Roethlisberger made it through a full week of practice without complications and, until Friday afternoon, had given every indication he would play.
Roethlisberger, who has suffered concussions in the past, is the only veteran quarterback on the roster. Backup Charlie Batch is out after a wrist injury, and youngster Dennis Dixon is now the primary back-up, and now the potential starter in a key game. Roethlisberger has waffled on his playing status dealing with certain injuries in the past, and the team does not have a read on which way he will lean come Saturday, with one source who knows Roethlisberger calling it an “hour-to-hour” situation at this point.
The only other quarterback on the roster is Tyler Palko, who was just signed to the practice squad this week. The Steelers worked out veterans Patrick Ramsey and Todd Bouman Thursday, and though both performed, well did not sign either due to the expectation Roethlisberger would play. Neither veteran knows the system well enough to play this Sunday in Baltimore, so if Roethlisberger opts not to start, the Steelers would have to gauge whether or not he is open to serving as the backup or emergency quarterback.
Concussions have become an increasing concern around the NFL, and the Steelers will continue to take every precaution, with Roethlisberger able to make a determination about his status. Earlier Friday, before meeting with Tomlin, the Pro Bowl quarterback pronounced himself ready to play to the media, but the Steelers are most definitely uncertain about that reality now.