Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sharp in practice today, according to AFC pool reporter Peter King of Sports Illustrated. At one point in practice, Roethlisberger threw four straight red-zone touchdown passes.
More details from the report:
The Steelers worked mostly on nickel and red-zone offensive and defensive situations for two hours in the Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility on the TCU campus. For the second straight day, defensive end Aaron Smith, idle since Oct. 24 with a torn triceps, was limited in practice and didn’t play in any scrimmage work, while center Maurkice Pouncey (high ankle sprain) wasn’t present. He was inside the Horned Frogs’ training room getting rehab on the right ankle.
Coach Mike Tomlin said he didn’t know if Pouncey would practice Friday, but said time is growing short for the rookie center to prove he can be mobile enough to play in Sunday’s game against Green Bay.
“It’s getting to be the witching hour for Maurkice,’’ Tomlin said after practice. “He’s going to have to show us something very soon.’’
Roethlisberger, preparing to play his third Super Bowl in his seventh NFL season, showed Tomlin something throughout practice—that he’s ready to play.
“I thought he had a good day,’’ Tomlin said. “I thought it was a good day of preparation overall.’’
Spreading the ball around well to all his receivers, Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Heath Miller and rookie Emmanuel Sanders for touchdowns on the 80-yard indoor practice field. Roethlisberger was sharp on other series Thursday as well.
“I’m glad we were sharp, but I’m not sure it really means anything for the game,’’ Tomlin said. “I’ve seen us practice great on Thursday and play poorly on Sunday, and then I’ve seen us practice not worth anything Thursday and then come out and play great.’’
The first-team defense was on its game too, with safety Ryan Clark picking off two balls and corner Ike Taylor and safety Troy Polamalu intercepting one apiece against scout-team quarterbacks Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch.
The TCU campus was closed for a third straight day due to the ice storm that hit north Texas Tuesday, and temperatures again were frigid. The wind-chill temperature on campus this afternoon was 10 degrees, compared to 16 degrees back at the Steelers home in Pittsburgh. So the indoor practice facility was a must.
The Steelers will hold two more practices before Sunday’s game: Friday at 11 a.m. at TCU, emphasizing goal-line and short-yardage plays as is customary with a Friday practice, and a short walk-through practice on Saturday at 10 a.m. Tomlin said he expected both workouts to be inside the Sam Baugh facility.