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The Early Lead
Posted at 03:02 PM ET, 12/15/2011

With Ben Roethlisberger questionable, Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon step up (updated)


Ben Roethlisberger suffered a high ankle sprain on this play last Thursday. (Christopher Horner / AP)
Filed at 11:10 a.m.; updated with Roethlisberger quotes

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing to face the San Francisco 49ers on Monday with two of their stars extremely unlikely to play.

In addition to James Harrison, suspended for one game because of his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy last Thursday, there’s the issue of Ben Roethlisberger’s ankle. Still, in a walking boot after suffering a high ankle sprain in the Steelers’ victory over the Browns, Roethlisberger said he is “definitely making big progress” but did not know whether he would play Monday night.

“I'm going to do everything I can to be out there,” Roethlisberger said (via TribLive.com). “I don't know if it's my decision. If it was just a matter of pain, I'd be out there. It's [being] physically unable to do certain things.”

Roethlisberger, who said it felt as if he’d broken his leg last Thursday, said he has been fitted for a brace and has gotten “non-stop” treatment. “It actually looks like an ankle now instead of one big mass of fluid down there,” Roethlisberger said.

Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon are preparing to play, with or without Roethlisberger.

“[Roethlisberger] can be ready to play on a limited number of snaps,” Coach Mike Tomlin said. “At the end of the [football] week, when we get into some situational football things, that's going to require some physical preparation in some form or fashion. But we're going to take it day by day. We're always going to be optimistic when it comes to Ben.”

Roethlisberger hasn’t missed a start because of health problems since suffering a concussion in 2009; he missed the first four games of the 2010 season after violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. With Dixon and Batch at QB, the Steelers were 3-1.

“Those guys, they're not Ben,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said in an enormous understatement. “They're great players, but Ben is something really special. So you have to change your game to what they do best.”

More from Washington Post Sports:

Browns president Mike Holmgren says McCoy was not tested for concussion

Early Lead: Browns coach Pat Shurmur defends putting McCoy back into game

Early Lead: James Harrison suspended one game for hit on McCoy

NFL meets with Browns to discuss handling of McCoy’s concussion

Early Lead: McCoy’s father rips Browns for handling of concussion

By  |  03:02 PM ET, 12/15/2011

 
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