Concussed Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned to practice on Monday but quickly showed signs that he still may not be 100-percent mentally. Running Pittsburghâ€™s offense against the scout defense early in practice, he audibled out of a running play, yawned and then fell to the ground, asleep at the feet of his center.
â€œHe signaled for an audible and then went: â€˜Aaaah. Yaaaaaaaah Yaaaaaah-ha-waaaah. Oh, my. Iâ€™m sorry. Yaaaaah,â€™â€ said receiver Hines Ward. â€œI was thinking: â€˜Aaaah, yaaaaah? What play is that?â€™ And by that time he was on the ground asleep with a little bit of blood trickling out of his ear.
Roethlisberger has suffered three known concussions in the past three seasons, not counting damage he received from a 2006 motorcycle accident that saw his head slam into a Chrysler New Yorker. But the Steelers insist their quarterback is ready for action.
â€œIâ€™m not worried at all about Ben,â€ said head coach Mike Tomlin. â€œIn fact, I am encouraged that he fell asleep. I think that shows that he is calm and relaxed about the game. In fact, he is so relaxed that we repeatedly have to remind him that there is a game this Sunday.â€
Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker said that even if Roethlisberger isnâ€™t at 100-percent mentally, he knows his quarterback will play because he is selfless.
â€œI have never been around someone as unselfish as Ben,â€ said Parker. â€œHe doesnâ€™t even respond to his name. He is so selfless, he only identifies himself as a part of the team. You can yell: â€˜Ben. Ben! BEN!â€™ right into his ear, and he doesnâ€™t even budge. The guy has no ego. He just stares at the wall, no doubt thinking about football, drooling the drool of success.â€
The Steelers quarterback insists his latest concussion wonâ€™t keep him off the field.
â€œAs an NFL quarterback, you have to have a very short memory,â€ he said. â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter if you throw an interception or have an injury, you have to forget about it right away and get back out there. Now, what was your question? Wait â€“ who are you? Aaah! Who am I? Why is there blood trickling out of my ear? What is this red substance on my ear? What are these sounds coming out of my mouooah blahba brrabbabrr â€¦ zzzzzzz.â€