Martavis Bryant rejoined his teammates Friday after serving his four-game drug suspension, and it’s not a moment too soon for the Steelers, whose anemic passing game was one of the many reasons they fell to the Baltimore Ravens Thursday night, 23-20, in overtime at Heinz Field.
New quarterback Mike Vick, subbing for injured Ben Roethlisberger, threw for just 124 yards, the fewest in a game for the Steelers since September 19, 2010, when they managed just 21 in a 19-11 victory in Tennessee. Backups Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon played quarterback for the Steelers that game while Roethlisberger was serving a four-game suspension.
Bryant, who had 26 receptions for 549 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie in 2014, should help Vick immensely. The Ravens double-teamed All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown and held him to five receptions for 42 yards.
Vick and Bryant didn’t play together much in the preseason, but when they did it was spectacular, the story claims. In Vick’s first game with the Steelers against the Buffalo Bills in the fourth preseason game, his first pass was a 63-yarder to Bryant. Later in the drive, Bryant drew a pass-interference penalty in the end zone that set up a touchdown. In one half, Bryant finished with three receptions from Vick for 138 yards. The hope is Bryant's presence could also prevent double teams on Brown. Overall, Bryant's return should mean good news for the Steelers offense.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012, 1:19pm
The Steelers are hoping to be full strength this week against the Chargers, including Ben Reothlisberger at QB. If Wallace can't go, Emmanuel Sanders would get the start next to Antonio Brown. All receivers would lose a bit of value if Charlie Batch had to play again this week at QB.
Roethlisberger was not medically cleared to play against the Ravens -- the third game in a row he missed with a rib and shoulder injury -- but the Steelers intend for him to return to practice and start against the Chargers.
At the same time, the team is preparing to have Charlie Batch at QB just in case Ben doesn't show much at mid-week practices. Big Ben likely won't be 100-percent, but he's a far better option than Batch. However, it may not be best to throw Ben right into this matchup unless he's a QB2. The Chargers are around the middle of the pack when it comes to allowing fantasy points to TEs. Guys like Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller should see a bump in value as a result of Ben starting.
Monday, December 3, 2012, 10:38am
The story is mainly about conflicting reports that Ben didn't push himself to play in Week 13, however the team seems to have understood Charlie Batch was going to play against the Ravens most of last week. We'll have to wait until midweek to get a better idea bout Ben's Week 14 status. Batch was much better in an impressive road win last week, but is far from a QB1.
Friday, November 30, 2012, 7:41pm
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder, out) took limited practice reps all week and is out for Week 13. It means Charlie Batch will get another start, which is bad news for the entire offense, including Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, and even Jonathan Dwyer, who will likely face eight men in the box. Byron Leftwich (ribs, out) missed practice all week and is out for Sunday's game.
Thursday, November 29, 2012, 7:36pm
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder) took limited practice reps again Thursday. Roethlisberger is very iffy for Week 13. The rib injury is of greater concern than the shoulder, but they are both hindering his ability to play. Charlie Batch would get another start if Big Ben can't play. This is bad news for Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller. Byron Leftwich (ribs) missed practice again Thursday.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 8:04pm
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Roethlisberger is very iffy for Week 13. The rib injury is of greater concern than the shoulder, but they are both hindering his ability to play. Charlie Batch would get another start if Big Ben can't play. This is bad news for Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller. Byron Leftwich (ribs) did not practice Wednesday.
Jonathan Dwyer, one of four backs who were benched only to be reinserted during a fumble-filled loss in Cleveland, will start Sunday in Baltimore and get the majority of the work, Tomlin said Tuesday.
Dwyer ran for 122 yards against the Bengals and 107 yards against the Redskins, but a quad strain kept him out the following week as Redman ran for 147 yards against the Giants. In the three games since, no back has gained more than the 56 yards Dwyer produced against the Chiefs.
“He’s been consistently the most productive guy,” Tomlin said of Dwyer, who has a team-leading 429 yards and a 4.4 average per carry. “I think we’ve got a large enough body of work to be able to identify that at this point. ... Over the course of the last several weeks, it’s obvious that he, one, is healthy and, two, is the most productive of the group.”
Rashard Mendenhall has been demoted to third string behind Isaac Redman. It certainly sounds like Dwyer will be the lead back against the Ravens on Sunday. His effectiveness will depend on whether or not Baltimore respects the Steelers' passing game. That won't be the case with Charlie Batch under center.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's status for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens remains a matter of debate. Coach Mike Tomlin said he was leaving the door open for Roethlisberger's return, but he made it sound like Charlie Batch would get the call to start a second consecutive game.
CBS Sports indicated Roethlisberger had a good chance to make it back, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is telling a much different story.
A source close to Roethlisberger told Gerry Dulac that he would be "shocked" if Roethlisberger played against the Ravens and expects him to miss another game. The source said it wasn't about pain tolerance, rather there are big doubts about how well Roethlisberger can perform through his dislocated rib and shoulder sprain.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012, 12:58pm
Looks like Tomlin is getting serious and trying to get the players attention after a sloppy loss to the Browns. Rashard Mendenhall is listed third on the depth chart at RB and now Wallace may find himself on the second team depending how things shake out. It looks like Antonio Brown, who is scheduled to return this week, is the other WR starter. As we've said all along, no one in the Steelers passing game is a good play if Charlie Batch is the starter at QB. Ben Roethlisberger is listed as having a 50/50 shot of playing in a must-win game against the Ravens.
He said the idea right now, however, is that Charlie Batch will start his second game in a row and "we are working on a plan to complement his strengths."
Meantime, a source close to Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he would be "shocked" if Roethlisberger played against the Ravens and expects him to miss one more game.
The reports say he can't do any more damage, so if there is any way he can play in this very important game, expect him to be out there. However, as it stands now, the team is preparing as of Batch will start. At this point, Ben would be limited if he plays, and that seems to be the main issue, not him being in pain. One would think the Steelers would try to use a run-heavy attack against a Raven defense that can be prone to giving up rushing yards.
The Steelers should have run all over the Browns last week. But, Mendy fumbled twice and got benched leaving Dwyer their top option. It may be hard to trust this depth chart once the game starts because all three backs are healthy, but it seems like Dwyer will at least get a chance in a pretty good matchup with the Ravens, who at times struggle to stop the run. If QB Ben Roethlisberger doesn't play, the Ravens would likely play to stop the run and force the Steelers to throw with Charlie Batch at QB. Dwyer will be an OK option, perhaps as a low-end RB2 or flex, but if you can avoid the situation, that may be the best option...
The Steelers suffered a bad loss to the Brown after trotting out Charlie Batch as the starting QB. Turnovers cost them a game that should have been a win. With Baltimore looming in Week 13, Pittsburgh needs Roethlisberger to play this week. Even if he does, he'll likely be at the very least somewhat limited, so throwing him right back in your starting fantasy lineup may not be the best idea until we see what he can do.
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