PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t taking any chances with their franchise quarterback’s sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib.
Though the Steelers confirmed Ben Roethlisberger will return to the starting lineup Sunday against San Diego after missing three weeks because of injury, Roethlisberger will take the field with extra protection.
Roethlisberger will play with a custom-fit rib/chest compression shirt and a layer of Kevlar-lined composite in his shoulder pads to help absorb hits to his clavicle and shoulder joint regions.
The padding, made by Unequal Technologies, has grown popular across the NFL. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick wore a similar compression shirt after injuring his ribs a few years ago, and dozens of players – including Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison – use Unequal CRT in their helmets.
The padding – about a half-inch thick – in Roethlisberger’s shoulder pads is similar to the gear the company puts in its chest protectors for baseball catchers. Roethlisberger said last week his shoulder pads had been juiced up by the team trainers.
Whatever he’s wearing, the Steelers (7-5) are eager to have him back on the field. Roethlisberger took 90 percent of the first-team snaps Thursday without any major issues.
He looks like himself for the most part, offensive coordinator Todd Haley said.
Roethlisberger said he felt good but declined to expand.
Slain girlfriend remembered
A relative of the slain girlfriend of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher said she was a loyal friend who brought joy to others with her smiles and laughter.
Kasandra Perkins’ great-uncle Ted Downing also told mourners at a funeral service in Blue Ridge, Texas, that the 22-year-old Perkins loved her family and considered her 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, to be the love of her life.
She had a deep, deep understanding about the important things in life, Downing said during a memorial at a rural North Texas church five days after Belcher killed Perkins then shot himself in the head.
Peyton Hillis lashed back at former teammate Joe Thomas, comparing the Browns’ offensive tackle to a crazy ex-girlfriend after he made disparaging comments about the Kansas City Chiefs running back.
Thomas told reporters Wednesday that Hillis didn’t always play hard during his time with the Browns. He also accused Hillis of creating a toxic environment in the locker room.
It’s kind of like a crazy ex-girlfriend, you know? It’s been over a year. Get over it, Hillis said.
Around the league
Cincinnati signed kicker Josh Brown to fill in for the injured Mike Nugent (calf) and waived center Jeff Faine. Kansas City placed defensive lineman Allen Bailey (ankle) on injured reserve and signed linebacker Leon Williams