Ben Roethlisberger made a triumphant return to action Monday night, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a win over the New York Giants to open the season. The quarterback will try to repeat the success when the Steelers host the Denver Broncos in their home opener on Sunday.
Roethlisberger missed all but two games in 2019 after undergoing elbow surgery last September but worked his way back to begin his 17th season, all with Pittsburgh. In his first game in a year he was 21-for-32 passing for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
It's a quick turnaround in facing Denver, with only five days between games, and Roethlisberger is admittedly sore.
"I'm definitely sore," he told ESPN on Wednesday. "The good news is my arm is the only thing that doesn't hurt."
Roethlisberger may be a little banged up but of more concern is his offensive line. Right tackle Zach Banner announced on social media Tuesday he is having season-ending surgery on his knee, which was injured in the fourth quarter against the Giants. Banner won the starting job in training camp.
The Steelers (1-0) got some better news regarding their other players. Running back James Conner left Monday with an ankle sprain and guard Stefen Wisniewski suffered a pectoral injury, but both could return to the field soon.
"We're still in the process of getting scans on (Wisniewski) and James Conner," Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin said. "But I think their forecast is a more favorable one, so we'll leave the light on for those two."
Wide receivers Juju Smith-Schuster (knee) and Diontae Johnson (toe) and center David DeCastro (knee) and tackle Alejandro Villanueva (illness) also didn't practice Wednesday.
The Broncos (0-1) haven't been as lucky on the injury front. All-Pro linebacker Von Miller was placed on injured reserve, an expected move after he underwent surgery to repair a tendon in his ankle before the first game.
Denver will likely be without running back Phillip Lindsay (turf toe) while cornerback A.J. Bouye could land on the short-term injured list with a dislocated shoulder. Both players were hurt in the first half of Monday's 16-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The good news for the Broncos is rookie wide receiver KJ Hamler was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and is on track to play. Linebacker Bradley Chubb, who is coming off a torn ACL suffered last season, was also a full participant after his first game in nearly a year.
Wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who suffered a shoulder injury in practice last week and didn't play Monday, was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice.
The Broncos came away from Monday's loss with several "what-if" questions.
On the final drive quarterback Drew Lock overthrew a streaking DaeSean Hamilton for a potential go-ahead touchdown. Denver also had limited time to work with after head coach Vic Fangio didn't use his timeouts on Tennessee's game-winning field goal drive.
Fangio took responsibility for his decision.
"I did miss calling a timeout after the second-down play from the 29-yard line when (Titans RB Derrick) Henry got 13 yards down to our 16," Fangio said Tuesday. "I should have called timeout there. That was the one I missed."
In other moves, the Broncos promoted cornerback De'Vante Bausby to their active roster and signed outside linebacker Isaiah Irving to the practice squad. Bausby spent time with Denver last season and was in training camp this summer.
--Field Level Media