Roethlisberger returns within the essential matchup in opposition to Chargers | Information, sports activities, jobs
Sports journalist by JOE REEDY AP
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Trainers preach about preparing for any eventuality. Seldom has it been more accurate than what Mike Tomlin of Pittsburgh and Brandon Staley of Los Angeles kick into the crucial AFC game on Sunday night.
Both competed the weekend with key players on the COVID-19 list.
However, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was cleared for start Saturday after passing the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. Pittsburgh will still be without star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is out after being put on the COVID-19 list on Monday. Chargers outside linebacker Joey Bosa was put on the Reserve / COVID-19 list as a close contact Tuesday after Jerry Tillery tested positive. Bosa was struck off the list on Saturday after testing negative for five days in a row.
Roethlisberger’s uncertain status during the week forced Los Angeles to prepare for both Roethlisberger and replacement Mason Rudolph, though Staley didn’t think the extra preparation was an issue.
“In every game you go into the plan and say, ‘Okay, if that happens, this person is here and that’s how the game will go.’ It’s part of your weekly routine, ”he said. “This one is just a little different because any of them could play, whereas most of the time that only happens in an emergency, when you prepare for a backup.”
Mason Rudolph found that he started last week’s game against Detroit less than 24 hours before kick-off. He completed 30 of 50 passes for 242 yards with a touchdown and interception in a 16-16 tie. Rudolph spent the week working with the Starters but will return to his reserve role against the Chargers.
The lack of practicing and then playing is no stranger to Roethlisberger. He was forced to virtually collaborate with the team for a week prior to a meeting with Cincinnati last November after tracing the contact. He started against the Bengals and threw 333 yards and four touchdowns.
Both teams need a win as they try to get out of a team jam in the tangled AFC, where seven teams have five or six wins when Thanksgiving looms.
The Chargers (5-4) have dropped three of their last four as the teams found ways to contain quarterback Justin Herbert.
The Steelers (5-3-1) have the toughest remaining schedule in the league, but last week’s draw means they are unlikely to be in straight tie-break situations, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Tomlin insists that it is far too early to start viewing the ad anyway.
“As long as you are running your stadium business, very rarely do you really have to look around and wonder what is going on around you,” he said. “Over the past month we and I have probably done very little of it because we looked after our business.”
THIN OUTSIDE LINE (BACKERS)
The Steelers traded veteran outside linebacker Melvin Ingram for Kansas City earlier this month, betting they’d have enough depth to survive without Ingram.
That depth is to be tested with Watt, who is studying hip and leg injuries sustained last week when Detroit’s Jared Goff was fired.
The team eliminated Watt on Friday, leaving the Steelers with three real outside linebackers in Alex Highsmith, Taco Charlton and Derrek Tuszka. Watt has 62 career bags. Highsmith, Charlton, and Tuszka together have 14 1/2.
“Whether they’re ready or not, they have to (be) ready,” Defense coordinator Keith Butler said. “We can’t wait for you. They have to come out and know what we are asking of them. They keep getting better at that. … They’ve gotten a lot more reps in the past week, so hopefully we’ll get along with these guys. You understand what we want to achieve. “
THE RUN CONTINUES
The Chargers remain the bottom of the league in running defense, but their numbers have improved over the past month. They allow 4.1 yards per carry in the last four games compared to 5.6 in the first five weeks. Los Angeles also only allowed one run over 20 yards after giving up seven to five games.
The defense, however, faces another tough back in Najee Harris. The Steelers rookie is sixth in the league in rushing and will be the sixth running back in the top 10 that the Chargers will face this season.
“He’s a really complete back. It’s smooth, he can see, he can run with power, he can catch the football from the backcourt, ”Staley said of Harris. “He has a physical presence so he’s ready to protect in the pass.”
Fitzpatrick has missed a snap all season, and Tomlin wasn’t exactly sprinting to name a replacement. Tre Norwood is on the depth map under Fitzpatrick and Miles Killebrew could get some run too. Norwood has impressed at times this season, although Fitzpatrick’s absence will be especially strange to the tough security guard Terrell Edmunds.
Edmunds, who is in a contract year after the Steelers declined to receive his fifth year option, has been stable, if not spectacular. Now he must be the last line of defense alongside Fitzpatrick against an offensive in Los Angeles that – when it comes to cooking – is one of the best in the league.
“Whoever is out there (we try) to make them feel as comfortable as possible,” Edmunds said. “(But) not having your partner out there in crime is always tough.”
HAVE AN EYE OPEN
Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams, who has cooled off after a great start to the season.
Williams led the league with six TD catches after five games and finished third in the AFC with 31 receptions. But the teams have contained him since he had the best game of his career against Cleveland on October 10, with eight receptions and 165 yards.
In the last four games, Williams has only 10 catches for 137 yards as the opposing defenses have better taken Los Angeles’ short and deep passing game.
“Mike’s obviously a production guy,” said Keenan Allen, the Chargers wide receiver. “When he gets the ball, he produces for me at a high level and scores a lot. Of course we didn’t meet. It probably has to do with Mike not getting the ball. ”
AP Sports Writer Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed to this.
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