The Ravens have not budged from their contention that no matter which Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback lines up under center Sunday, they are preparing to defend the offense, not the quarterback.
The identity of that quarterback is still unknown, but Ben Roethlisberger is scheduled to increase his workload at Wednesday’s practice.
That doesn’t mean that Roethlisberger has been cleared to play after suffering dislocated ribs and a sprained right throwing shoulder in the Steelers’ 16-13 overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 12. In fact, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Charlie Batch is still the starter.
But Tomlin said that Roethlisberger is making progress.
“He’s in a different position than he was the last time we talked,” Tomlin said Wednesday during a conference call with Baltimore media. “He threw a little bit on Monday. He’s scheduled to throw in some capacity today. We’ll see where the week will take us.”
Pittsburgh could use a boost from its franchise quarterback. Since the organization drafted him in the first round in 2004, the team is 0-5 against the Ravens when he has missed a game because of injury or suspension.
The Steelers have dropped both contests in which Roethlisberger has been sidelined, averaging 11 fewer points and committing 11 turnovers compared to nine in the first nine games. And at 6-5, Pittsburgh is three games behind the first-place Ravens in the race for the AFC North title.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace said the offense will prepare for Sunday’s game with either Roethlisberger or Batch under center, but he also conceded that there’s a noticeable difference in the way the quarterbacks run the offense.
“He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the game,” Wallace said of Roethlisberger during a conference call Wednesday. “So obviously, when he’s not in there, things are going to be different.”
The Ravens reiterated that they are planning to limit the Steelers when they have the ball, not the individual quarterback.
“We’ll do the same thing we did last time and the same thing we really do every week,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ll prepare for their offense. Their offense is very formidable. They have a big, physical offensive line. They’re very capable of running the ball very well and very aggressively. They have playmakers at every one of their skill positions that have to be defended and can score a touchdown at any time. They’ve got physical backs, too. They’ve proven against us and everybody else that they can break tackles. So whatever quarterback ends up playing in this game, he’s going to be very capable of running their offense very well. And we’ve seen that before, we’ve seen it from experience.”