Steelers’ Roethlisberger returns to practice after left knee injury


Ben Roethlisberger took a small step toward returning to action and that left his Pittsburgh Steelers’ teammates feeling good.

The veteran quarterback was a limited participant in practice Wednesday for the first time since spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sept. 27 during a win over the Rams at St. Louis.

Roethlisberger took part in non-contact seven-on-seven passing drills. While he is not expected to play in Sunday’s game against the visiting Arizona Cardinals, Roethlisberger appears to be on course to beat the original timetable of missing six weeks.

“We’re just taking it one day a time,” he said.

However, practice got a bit livelier once Roethlisberger took his 15 snaps.

“It was really good to see that, very encouraging,” guard Ramon Foster said. “But until he’s ready, we really can’t focus on that. We’ve just got to stick with the plan.”

Roethlisberger said the determining factor in being game ready will be when he feels he is mobile enough to protect himself.

“The biggest thing is being able to avoid the pass rush,” he said. “I can walk around fine. I can step and throw. But being able to make the subtle moves inside the pocket, and outside the pocket, too, is important. I have to make sure I am able to do that.”

The Steelers (3-2) have split their two games with Mike Vick as the starting quarterback. They lost to the Baltimore Ravens in overtime and then rallied to beat the Chargers 24-20 on Monday night at San Diego when Le’Veon Bell had a 1-yard touchdown run as time expired.

Pittsburgh has simplified its offense for Vick, who signed as a free agent just before the start of the regular season when backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was placed on injured reserve. Vick said he is still not completely comfortable with the offense.

Roethlisberger was off to an outstanding start, completing 75.3 percent of his passes for 912 yards and four touchdowns in a little more than 2½ games. He has missed just 20 games in his 12-year career.

Cassel named starter

Irving Texas AP

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett made Matt Cassel the starter Wednesday after Brandon Weeden lost all three of his starts in place of the injured Tony Romo.

The defending NFC East champion Cowboys (2-3) were inconsistent on offense with Weeden and need at least one win, perhaps two, to stay in contention in the next four games without Romo. He’s out at least that long with a broken left collarbone.

In Cassel, Dallas is picking someone with more experience — and more wins. Cassel made 71 starts for New England, Kansas City and Minnesota and has 33 wins to just five for Weeden, although both have losing records for their careers.

Heyward fined

Pittsburgh AP

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said he was fined by the NFL for paying tribute to his late father.

Heyward tweeted on Wednesday that the league penalized him for writing “Iron Head” on his eye black during a game.

Heyward’s father, Craig, spent a decade as a running back in the NFL and went by the nickname “Ironhead” for his physical style of play. Craig Heyward died in 2006 at the age of 39 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Heyward tweeted “Got fined for honoring my Dad who bravely fought cancer on my eye black. #NeverGiveUp #CancerSucks”

Brady downplays game

Foxborough Massachusetts REUTERS

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady feels no added motivation for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts team that triggered the “Deflategate” scandal that nearly kept him off the field for four games.

While many believe this matchup will have extra edge because of the fallout from their AFC Championship Game in January, both Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick maintained it would be “business as usual” when the Patriots visit the Colts.

“I’m always pretty motivated,” Brady said Wednesday when asked if he would have added incentive for the game.

When pressed on how there could not be extra incentive, Brady replied: “I’m always pretty motivated regardless of the opponent, regardless of the team or the week, whether it’s a preseason game, whether it’s a regular-season game…”