Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was among four Pittsburgh Steelers players activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday.
Roethlisberger, offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins, running back Jaylen Samuels and linebacker Vince Williams were all placed on the list after tight end Vance McDonald tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
All four are eligible for Sunday’s home game against the Cincinnati Bengals after continuing to test negative and avoiding the development of symptoms for five days.
The unbeaten Steelers (8-0) had been preparing for the Bengals (2-5-1) as if Roethlisberger would be on the field. Roethlisberger has passed for 1,934 yards and 18 touchdowns against four interceptions this season.
Roethlisberger, 38, stayed engaged through the week by participating in virtual meetings and communicating with the coaching staff, but he said Saturday that he is happy to be back.
“I’m doing great,” Roethlisberger told reporters. “My body enjoyed the week off.”
He said virtual meetings are no substitute for the real thing, however.
“I watched every play of practice, but you just watch it on your iPad at home so you don’t get to hear all those things. It was definitely a lot different than anything I have experienced before.”
Coach Mike Tomlin said Friday the Steelers would go through an expanded walkthrough on Saturday to help Roethlisberger prepare.
“If he comes off of the protocol, we are going to have an extended walkthrough … just to give him an in-helmet perspective on some of the situational things, to put the finishing touches on our work, to allow him to work with the eligibles that he will work with in game, to have any necessary informal conversations that allow us to have a level of comfort as we push into play,” Tomlin said.
Backup quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs both received extra work with the first team this week, but there was no indication of who would start if Roethlisberger were unavailable.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)