Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger to play Saturday vs. Indianapolis Colts

By The Sports Xchange  |  Aug. 24, 2017 at 9:58 PM
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PITTSBURGH -- Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers said Thursday that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, receiver Antonio Brown and outside linebacker James Harrison will play when the Steelers play host to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night at Heinz Field.

It will be their first action of the preseason.

This is the second consecutive year the Steelers are taking precautions with Roethlisberger and Brown, their two highest-paid players. Tomlin only played them in one preseason game last year.

Tomlin said playing time for his starters will depend on how they perform.

"We're doing more extended game-planning than we've done to this point," Tomlin said. "Some guys will play more. How long they play will be determined by how they perform and how the game unfolds. We'll play that by ear."

Roethlisberger might not have played in the first two preseason games, but he has been a participant in almost every practice during training camp. His goal against the Colts is for the first-team offense to get a rhythm going and to leave the game feeling good about the performance.

"Just click, to move the ball, pickup first downs," he said. "Obviously get in the end zone is a big deal but we want to move the ball."

--Mike Tomlin said Thursday that incumbent Ross Cockrell and Coty Sensabaugh, a free agent signed in March, are in a battle for the starting right cornerback job.

The Steelers gave up 211 passing yards in the first half against the Falcons last week and Cockrell had a particularly rough game.

"It's shaping up to be that," Tomlin said. "We'll see. Coty has done enough to merit consideration. That's what this process is all about."

Sensabaugh signed a sizeable free agent contract with the Rams last year, but he was cut after only four games. The Giants signed him the following week and he finished the season with them.

Tomlin has been impressed with his ability to pick up the defense. Sensabaugh played in a similar system under former Steelers coaches Ray Horton and Dick LeBeau when he was with the Titans.

"He's proven to be a savvy veteran guy," Tomlin said. "He doesn't get (fooled) twice by similar concepts. He's generally close. You can see his snap experience has been used for good. His above the neck game is very strong. Those are assets to him in how he performs."

--Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger expressed some concern that Le'Veon Bell might not be in "football shape" when he reports to the team Sept. 1.

Bell, who has been a no-show during training camp because he has yet to sign his franchise tender, tweeted Tuesday night that he would report 10 days before the regular-season opener at Cleveland.

"Coming off an injury, it's going to be about how he feels," Roethlisberger said. "He's going to come back here in great shape. He's always is in great shape, but there's in-shape and there's football-shape. There's running around in shorts and a T-shirt -- probably for him no shirt - and putting pads on and getting hit so you know he's going to have to be the judge of how easy it is to come back."

Bell is coming off a sports hernia surgery in March. Roethlisberger said there will be a few new wrinkles in the playbook for Bell to absorb. The Steelers installed some new plays during the offseason, and

Bell missed all of the spring practices during OTAs and minicamp as well.

"That's on him and how much studying he wants to do," Roethlisberger said. "We'll do everything we can to get him up to speed and then the rest is kind of on him."

NOTES: QB Landry Jones, who missed the first two preseason games because of an abdominal injury, said he would like to play against the Colts, and coach Mike Tomlin said he was close to being cleared to play. ... CB Mike Hilton, who has been one of the pleasant camp surprises, received some reps with the first-team defense this week. William Gay is the starting slot corner for now, but he took some reps as a backup safety, an indication the Steelers will take a long look at Hilton as their future slot. ... RB James Conner rushed for 96 yards in his professional debut last week against the Atlanta Falcons, but coach Mike Tomlin took him to task for what he deemed a "jayvee" performance on special teams. The Steelers want Conner to be a core special teamer because Le'Veon Bell figures to get most of the snaps at running back. ... RB Le'Veon Bell tweeted this week that he will report to the Steelers and sign his one-year franchise tender on Sept. 1.

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