By Teresa Varley
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was back on the practice field on Tuesday, returning to action in a limited role.
But don't expect him to be limited at all on Saturday night when the Steelers host the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field.
"We like where he is, and we'll continue to move forward with him, anticipating him participating in the game," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "He won't be limited in any form or fashion."
Roethlisberger injured his right foot in practice last Thursday and missed the Steelers 17-13 loss to the Washington Redskins.
While Roethlisberger will play, second-year quarterback Dennis Dixon has been ruled out for the game after suffering a shoulder injury against the Redskins.
"You can characterize him as out for this week," said Tomlin. "That's about all I'm willing to characterize at this point. I'm going to be optimistic. I'll acknowledge that he won't play this week."
In other injury related news tight end Sean McHugh will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Wednesday morning. Missing practice on Tuesday were tackle Jason Capizzi (shoulder), running back Frank Summers (hamstring), wide receiver Santonio Holmes (back), running back Willie Parker (hamstring). Hines Ward also missed practice, but is not injured.
The Steelers returned to the UPMC Sports Performance Complex for practice on Tuesday and in doing so returned to their regular season practice schedule.
"We have a legitimate, simulated game week," said Tomlin. "We've put the schedule together that way. We're working as a coaching staff in that way, presenting information to the guys. So yes, in a lot of ways, it is. Now we're working with a lot of people, some of which are kind of getting their feet wet to what we're doing in professional football, so you lose some of the minute details that you would have in an in-season game plan, but we will be game plan ready."
Tomlin said that he has no problem installing the regular season schedule and doing more game-planning right now, even though the team has an expanded roster until the first roster cuts and position battles are still taking place.
"More than anything it's part of the evaluation process," said Tomlin. "Some of the position battles that people are following, those guys get a chance to distinguish themselves by learning something new that's game plan specific and being able to execute it. And more times than not, usually, some people distinguish themselves in a negative way by their inability to do that. So it's all part of the evaluation process, and it creates more clarity for some of these position battles."
Expect to see the team's starters play more on Saturday night, but Tomlin isn't sure how long that will be.
"We're looking for our starters, our first wave of guys if you will, at this point, to play significant amount of time. What that is at this point is to be determined."