Ben Roethlisberger continues to undergo tests and evaluation on his right shoulder, after he injured it during Monday night's 16-13 win over the Chiefs. Roethlisberger took a hard hit from Kansas City's Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, then left the game with his throwing arm held limp against his body.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin revealed Tuesday that Roethlisberger has a sternoclavicular (SC) sprain in his shoulder -- the SC joint connects the collarbone to the sternum. But Tomlin could not provide any timetable for when his QB might be able to suit up again.
"Obviously, his injury puts his participation in the questionable category," Tomlin said of Roethlisberger's status for a game Week 11 game against Baltimore. "I'll have more information as this week unfolds."
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll said that an SC sprain is a "very unusual injury" and somewhat similar to the broken clavicle Danny Amendola suffered earlier this season. "It should heal faster than an injury in the shoulder itself," Carroll added. "I'm not sure how it will affect his throwing motion. The worry would be another hit."
Roethlisberger has shown the knack for playing through injuries during his career, including in 2011, when he quickly returned after suffering what appeared at the time to be a serious ankle injury in Week 14 against Cleveland. Roethlisberger struggled in the next game against San Francisco, though, then sat out a Week 16 win over St. Louis.
Pittsburgh did not have the services of Byron Leftwich available at that time -- he suffered a season-ending injury last preseason. Charlie Batch took over the QB role in Roethlisberger's absence.
This time around, it was Leftwich who got the nod. He stepped in Monday to help the Steelers hold off Kansas City for a victory, and he would start (with Batch active as his backup) against Baltimore in Week 11 and likely beyond, should Roethlisberger miss more time.
The reports surrounding Roethlisberger's injury have varied since Monday night, in part because it sounds as if even Roethlisberger's doctors remain unsure of the severity of the injury. A sprained SC joint is the same injury that Brett Favre tried to play through in 2010, only to see his consecutive games streak end because of it.
If the playoffs began this weekend, the Steelers would hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC. They have a two-game cushion over San Diego, Miami and Cincinnati in the race for that final playoff spot, so sitting Roethlisberger, even as a precaution, might be in the cards.
Of course, the AFC North lead will be up for grabs Sunday night when the Ravens visit -- the first of two meetings between the two rivals in the next three weeks. As SI's Peter King pointed out, since drafting Roethlisberger in 2004, the Steelers are 0-4 against the Ravens in games that Big Ben does not play. Whether or not Roethlisberger plays in either of those games is still very much up in the air.