Ben Roethlisberger's return to the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting lineup can't come soon enough after a dreadful loss against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that could happen as soon as next week.
Roethlisberger has missed the Steelers' past two games — both Steelers losses — with rib and shoulder injuries. His potential return would come at a crucial time next week, as the Steelers are set for a rematch with the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens.
From Mortensen's report:
The Steelers quarterback will begin soft-tossing the football early in the week to test his range of motion and work through the pain of his rare rib and shoulder injury, according to team sources. [...]
He has been able to hold his baby with his right arm, and doctors have determined his rib has healed enough that he doesn't risk further damage.
Roethlisberger's pain tolerance and range of motion could determine whether he plays next week.
Without Roethlisberger, the Steelers have turned to backups Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch. Batch threw three interceptions on Sunday — part of the team's eight turnovers — as the Steelers fell 20-14 to the Browns in Cleveland. The now 6-5 Steelers go into next Sunday's matchup with the Ravens clinging to the sixth and final AFC playoff spot, by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Cincinnati Bengals.