Pittsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger is expected to play in Sunday's Week 11 game against the Los Angeles Chargers after clearing the NFL's COVID-19 protocols.
Steelers director of communications Burt Lauten noted the quarterback will fly to L.A. separately but is on track to start on Sunday Night Football:
Burt Lauten @SteelersPRBurt
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Steelers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Steelers</a> QB Ben Roethlisberger will be activated to the team’s 53-man roster after passing the NFL’s required COVID-19 protocols. He will fly separate this afternoon from the team’s charter plane to Los Angeles with the expectation of starting Sunday night vs the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Chargers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Chargers</a>.
The Steelers placed the six-time Pro Bowler on the reserve/COVID-19 list prior to their Week 10 clash with the Detroit Lions. Mason Rudolph filled in during the 16-16 tie.
In the offseason, Pittsburgh was between a rock and a hard place. Roethlisberger, who turned 39 in March, was beginning to show his age toward the end of the 2020 season, but the team didn't have a viable alternative at quarterback.
As a result, Big Ben returned and has continued fighting a losing battle against Father Time. Through eight games, he has thrown for 1,986 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Despite their offensive struggles, the Steelers find themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff race at 5-3-1.
Before Rudolph replaced Roethlisberger last week, the franchise got a taste of life with the 26-year-old as the starting quarterback in 2019. He threw for 1,765 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 appearances.
The dilemma in which Pittsburgh found itself was partially because Rudolph had yet to prove himself as a worthy successor to Roethlisberger.
That trend continued against the Lions, so the Steelers offense should get a boost from Big Ben's expected return in a key matchup with the Chargers.