The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing as if starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be ready to play against the Cincinnati Bengals but underlined that they will be ready in case the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback isn't ready to go.
On Monday, Steelers tight end Vance McDonald tested positive for the coronavirus and a day later Roethlisberger landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a high-risk close contact. Roethlisberger is getting daily tested and he will be allowed to suit up against the Bengals if all of his tests come back as negative.
"We'll prepare and continue to prepare as if Ben is playing," Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said, per ESPN. "As of this point right now, he hasn't missed a rep. He doesn't practice on Wednesdays anyway.
... there's been various times in his career where he has not practiced all week and played in games and played successful in games. I don't question that one bit."
The Steelers will be ready in case Roethlisberger not allowed to play
Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs have been competing hard in practices this week as both hope to start against the Bengals.
"Mason is taking reps," Fichtner said. "Josh is taking reps. I don't know if it's equal reps, but we're preparing both just like we would every week. They just get a few more reps this week on Thursday and Friday."
Roethlisberger has been attending virtual team meetings with the team this week and trying to help them as much as he can in this situation. "He's been great, because obviously he's accessible," Fichtner said.
"He's got plenty of free time. We're the ones that have to make the time to fit. ... Ben likes to text, so we get texts at night and go back and forth about a lot of things. ... It's as if he's been in the room."
Roethlisberger injured his ankle just before the halftime this past Sunday but returned to the field in the second half and led his team to a 24-19 comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys. "I didn't want to let my guys down," Roethlisberger said after the game.
"I think so many times the line and guys are looking at me on the sideline, they're like, 'All right, Ben, we believe in you.' I just don't want to let them down. I want to give everything I have and fight.
I wish that we didn't have those fourth-quarter comebacks. I wish that I played better early in the games and that we were up and we didn't have to do it. But that's the way it is. If we have to have a situation like this where we have to score late or win in the fourth quarter, as long as we win, I'll take it."