The day began with this statement from Coach Mike Tomlin: "The MRI on Sunday night revealed Ben Roethlisberger had an MCL injury to his left knee. There is no timetable for his return, but Ben is a competitor and we are confident he will do everything in his power to return at the appropriate time."
A few hours later, Tomlin sat behind the microphone at the Steelers' practice facility for his weekly news conference, where he acknowledged the obvious.
"We released a statement regarding Ben's health. He had an MRI and he has an MCL sprain," said Tomlin. "He's going to be out for a number of weeks. I don't have great detail about what that length of time might look like or might be, to be honest with you. I know he's out this week, and under the circumstances of us having to deal with a short week and get this group ready to play, that's all the information I need. I'll fall back and get more details regarding him and what the rehab is going to look like and what the process is going to look like and when we can start anticipating his return. I'll address that when we come out of this game."
The game Tomlin referenced is the first of the annual home-and-home bar brawl with the Baltimore Ravens, and the Heinz Field edition takes place on Thursday night.
"We have an adjustment in terms of starting Mike Vick and bringing the game to him and allowing him to play and finding what his personality is and what our personality with him is," said Tomlin.
When it was time for questions, it was no surprise that the first few had to do with what the Steelers offense might look like with Vick as the starting quarterback.
"He is (up to date with the offense), but that doesn't mean we're going to ask him to execute our offense in a manner in which we would ask Ben to," said Tomlin. "Ben and Todd Haley have been together for three years now, and Ben has been in Pittsburgh for over 10 years, and so there is a certain comfort with that continuity. We're not going to assume certain things because Mike is a veteran player and is up to speed on our large body of work. We're going to work in his comfort zone and bring the game to him to allow him to put us in the best position to win a football game."
On the play in which Roethlisberger was injured, it appeared as though Rams safety Mark Barron delivered a blow to the knee of a quarterback who was in the pocket. Tomlin was asked whether he had a problem with the hit, and/or with the decision of the game officials not to penalize Barron on the play.
"I'm not going to be critical of the hit or of officiating," said Tomlin. "You guys know we got a letter (from the league office) a week ago stressing not to do that. So I'm not."
It goes without saying that there was a significant degree of angst among Steelers fans when Roethlisberger had to be carted off the sideline to the visitor's locker room in the Edward Jones Dome. But Tomlin's standing philosophy of "the standard is the standard" doesn't allow for a lot of emotion when it comes to injured players.
And so when he was asked if he was "relieved" the injury to Roethlisberger turned out not to be season-ending as was first speculated, Tomlin said, "I never assumed it was a season-ending injury. I never assume anything when someone gets hurt. I wait until I get medical information, and when I got it that's what they told us. I don't spend a lot of time or waste a lot of time or energy speculating."
And while Tomlin isn't the warm and fuzzy type when it comes to offering public comfort to injured players or to the fans of teams with injured players, part of his assessment of the victory over the Rams could have served to do that anyway.
"It's good to know we're capable of winning games in different ways, because games don't always go according to script," said Tomlin. "We got significant contributions from men in all three phases. We were able to overcome the loss of our quarterback and get out of the stadium with a win. That's a positive. Now we get a week's worth of preparation over the next several days for our next opportunity, and we'll be excited about rallying around Mike and working within his comfort zone.
"We're going to rally around him, and appropriately so."
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"Ryan Shazier is still nursing his shoulder. I don't know what his availability is going to be. As soon as he gets above the line from a strength standpoint, he'll be allowed to return to participation. He's experiencing some weakness in his shoulder, and until he gets that weakness above the line, we're going to hold him out. He's been working hard with our medical staff to regain that, and we're going to hold him out until he does.
"Dan McCullers is still working his knee. We'll let his availability in terms of practice be a guide in terms of whether or not he's available to participate.
"The same thing for Cortez Allen, who has had some inflammation in his knee that has limited his preparation from a practice standpoint. I have been following the guideline that those who practice and perform in practice get an opportunity to play. He hasn't been able to practice fully over the course of the last several weeks, so I've chosen to play other guys. We'll see where he is in preparation for this game, and if he's healthy enough to practice and sustain the practice reps we will utilize him.
"James Harrison has a thumb that's being evaluated. It shouldn't keep him out of action but may limit him in some way. Matt Spaeth has a hand fracture that's being casted. We'll look at his ability to function with that cast and let that be our guide for the football game."