PITTSBURGH – Mike Tomlin didn’t rule out the possibility that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could play the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, but this week’s game plan will revolve around backup Mason Rudolph.
“We are going to build our plan around Mason being ready to play,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “We are going to highlight their talents and abilities in relation to the opponents we intend to play. We are going to build that plan, work that plan. We have a young offensive unit, and we will let them carry us through the week.
“If we get to a point in the week where Ben has a chance to get to a moving train, that’s exactly what he will do. He will be able to execute the game plan.”
Roethlisberger, who landed on the reserve / COVID-19 list on Saturday with a positive test, is vaccinated and needs two negative tests and be symptom-free for 48 hours to return to the active list. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick entered the reserve / COVID-19 list on Monday after a positive test, and Tomlin said he does not expect to have him on Sunday.
Roethlisberger missed a week last season in close contact with a teammate who tested positive. After a week of isolation, Roethlisberger was activated off the reserve / COVID-19 list one day before facing the Cincinnati Bengals and threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns.
Like that week, Roethlisberger will participate in virtually every team meeting, Tomlin said.
“He was injured and had personal discomfort in the past during the 15 years that we have worked together, he always responds to that bell,” Tomlin said.
“We will definitely leave the light on for him.”
If Roethlisberger returns, Tomlin doesn’t anticipate any obstacles in last-minute adaptations to his veteran quarterback’s game plan.
“We set up the game for Ben last week and Mason ran it,” Tomlin said. “There are not many significant differences. It’s not that Mason Rudolph runs a 4.4 and all of a sudden we’re going to start doing some race pass options and things of that nature. It’s not as meaningful a discussion as one might imagine.” . It’s probably more what you like and what you don’t like or things related to the sensations in relation to the perspective of the position inside the helmet. “
Rudolph started in Roethlisberger’s place Sunday, completing 30 of 50 attempts for 242 yards, a touchdown and an interception in a 16-16 draw against the Lions without a win. After the game, Tomlin said Rudolph gave them a “chance to win,” and on Tuesday praised their ability to execute the game plan.
“His ability to communicate not just in game, but between series and express likes and dislikes and articulate what he saw was acceptable,” said Tomliin. “His readings and soccer layout were largely what we wanted. Sometimes he stretched the ball across the field and gave us the opportunity to have them defend the field not just horizontally but vertically.”
But, Tomlin noted that Rudolph’s accuracy needed to improve. Rudolph’s passes were often too high, and once a Ray Ray McCloud missed in the end zone when he threw the short ball and it bounced off the grass in front of his receiver.
“I thought it might be better from a pinpoint accuracy point of view, in some cases, to set up the race after (the catch) and put the ball in an ideal circumstance so that a guy on the floor can win that flat confrontation Tomlin said. “In general, this is not the first rodeo for him. This is not the first rodeo for him with us. I don’t think any of us were surprised by the things he was able to do for us.”
If Roethlisberger is not activated, Rudolph would make his 11th career start with the Steelers, entering the game with a 5-4-1 record. Before starting the Week 17 game against the Cleveland Browns last season, Rudolph started eight games in 2019 after Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury.
“I feel a lot more comfortable out there,” Rudolph said after the game. “Comfortable with the coach [Matt] Canada and our offense and the young players on our offensive line. We just gel well as a unit. Those are my friends. Those are my brothers. We enjoy each other’s company.
“There is a level of experience that you have. Experience is the best teacher, and these opportunities don’t happen often, so obviously I was excited to get them. We have to make more plays to be on the win column.”
In addition to the Steelers on the reserve / COVID-19 list, the team is also dealing with injuries to TJ Watt, Joe Haden, Kevin Dotson and Trai Turner, all suffered against the Lions. Tomlin didn’t have a concrete timeline for either, but said he would “leave the light on” for Watt, who had negative hip and knee MRIs, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“As a competitor, we are always excited to have the opportunity to smile in the face of adversity. The adversity that life and the game of soccer presents, be it injury, COVID or otherwise, that is something that always has my attention.” . something we are always willing to confront. “