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Steelers Possibly to Face Broncos without Brown and Ben

January 12, 2016
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Steelers Possibly to Face Broncos without Brown and Ben

The Denver Broncos have Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict to thank for beating up on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ two most indispensable offensive players.

Ben Roethlisberger was thought to have avoided ligament damage from the hit he took from Burfict on Saturday, but the quarterback seemed to spin a different story on 93.7 The Fan. He said he did indeed tear ligaments in his shoulder than also suffered a sprained AC joint — no wonder he had trouble throwing the ball after coming back into the wild-card win over the Bengals.

“It didn’t hurt when I reached back to throw,” Roethlisberger said. “But it was pushing forward to throw and then the end of the throw. So I definitely felt like I was shortening up my motion up a little bit, which is why we threw some screens, and couldn’t really get the ball down the field.”

Wide receiver Antonio Brown has a far different concern. He took a shot in the final minute of the game from Burfict and immediately was ruled out and entered into concussion protocol. Despite some optimism Monday, that apparently has taken a turn for the worse. ESPN’s Bob Holtzman reports that it’s “not looking good” for Brown to be cleared for Sunday’s game against the Broncos in Denver.

Roethlisberger wouldn’t speculate on his status for the game, although Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said he expects Big Ben to go and that the Broncos are planning accordingly. The plan in the run-up to the game, Roethlisberger said, was to take things day to day and measure his health and pain tolerance.

“I honestly don’t know,” Roethlisberger said. “I haven’t tried to throw a football since the game, and maybe that’s not even the right thing to do right away. I’ll see the doctors and trainers tomorrow [Wednesday], we’ll evaluate kind of how I feel. If anything, maybe I can practice and hand off and still get some mental reps that way. So we’ll really just kind of see how it goes [Wednesday].”

If Brown is out, it’s a massive blow. The offense clearly is a different animal with both of them on the field together. The silver lining is that running back DeAngelo Williams might be ready to return after missing the Bengals game, but the run game was not an issue in that one. Martavis Bryant, who made a ridiculous TD catch at Cincinnati, would be the de facto No. 1 option in the case that Brown can’t go.

And don’t forget, this is a Broncos defense that ranked as one of the NFL’s elite, even with a small backslide at season’s end. With a week off prior to Sunday, they’ll be rested. The Steelers will not be, and health going into that one is a major question mark.

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