On Saturday evening, the Steelers announced that they were placing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the reserve/COVID-19 list. As a result, Roethlisberger will miss the club’s game against the Lions this afternoon.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the 39-year-old passer self-reported COVID symptoms to the team and subsequently tested positive for the virus (Twitter link). As Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets, Roethlisberger is vaccinated, so he is eligible to be removed from the COVID list as soon as he returns two negative tests taken 24 hours apart. That gives him a good chance to suit up for what could be a critical bout with the Chargers next Sunday.
For today, QB2 Mason Rudolph will get the nod in Roethlisberger’s place (Twitter link via Rapoport). Rudolph, a 2018 third-rounder, has not played a significant snap since Week 16 of the 2019 season — he started a meaningless Week 17 game last year — and he boasts a 5-4 career record as a starter, a record that is accompanied by a subpar 82.7 career quarterback rating.
However, if the Steelers could pick a game for Roethlisberger to miss this year, today’s matchup would probably be the one they would pick. The 0-8 Detroit outfit is ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in terms of yards allowed per game, and next-to-last in terms of points allowed per game. Plus, Rudolph does get regular opportunities to run the first-team offense in practice, so Pittsburgh should not need to limit its playbook in any way.
The Steelers have won four in a row to bring themselves squarely into the AFC playoff picture. During that streak, Roethlisberger — whose early-season struggles prompted speculation about his job security — is averaging over 200 passing yards per game, has thrown six TDs, zero interceptions, and has posted a 104.6 QB rating (h/t Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.