Updated: Nov 14, 2020
The Steelers had their final full practice of the week at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side in preparation for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Mike Tomlin announced earlier today that he expects Ben Roethlisberger to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list and be ready for Sunday. With Roethlisberger missing practice this week, Tomlin said they'll have an extended walkthrough tomorrow.
"We do expect him to come off," Tomlin said of Roethlisberger. "We have that expectation because this week has gone according to plan in terms of his place in the procedure. If he comes off of the protocol, we are going to have an extended walkthrough tomorrow just to give him an in-helmet perspective on some of the situational things, to put the finishing touches on our work, to allow him to work with the eligibles that he will work with in-game, to have any necessary informal conversations that allow us to have a level of comfort as we push into play."
Tomlin also said he expects Vince Williams to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list and he'll be active for Sunday. Avery Williamson got a lot of snaps in practice this week with the absence of Williams.
"I anticipate Vince being available," Tomlin said. "I'm extremely comfortable in his body of work and level of preparedness that he can work much the same as Ben, so Avery's opportunities will be based on the play of the others."
Shortly after Tomlin spoke with the media on Friday, Williams tweeted, "Guess who's going to be back tomorrow" with a GIF, indicating that he'll be good to go for Sunday.
Anthony McFarland Jr. did not practice for the second consecutive day with an illness, Kevin Dotson also missed practice today with an illness. Since the Steelers are in the intensive COVID-19 protocol, the team is taking extra precautions when a player is dealing with an illness that is non-COVID-19 related.
"Those are illness related, but obviously being in the heightened circumstances that we are in, in terms of the intensive protocol, we're exercising all of the proper precautions and not allowing those guys to come to work, even though it's an illness," Tomlin said.
Mike Hilton (shoulder) and Isaiah Buggs (ankle) were both limited on Friday. McFarland, Dotson, Hilton and Buggs are all listed as questionable for Sunday. Tyson Alualu (knee) was a full participant at practice today and Tomlin expects him to be active for Sunday's game.
"You can characterize Mike (Hilton) as questionable," Tomlin said. "He has been a limited participant all week. We'll continue to monitor his progress in the last 48 hours as we push towards game time. I think that Tyson is in a better place. His participation was a full one today. There are very little reservations regarding his abilities or availability, so he is a go."
Jerald Hawkins and Jaylen Samuels should also come off the reserve/COVID-19 list and be eligible for Sunday. In addition, assistant offensive line coach Adrian Klemm will not be coaching on Sunday because of an illness.
Roethlisberger suffered a left knee injury late in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys but managed to finish the drive and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to James Washington. He was out for the final drive of the first half as he was getting his knee examined in the locker room. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Monday that Roethlisberger injured both his knees in the game against Dallas, but Tomlin said both of Roethlisberger's knees are OK.
"His knees are fine," Tomlin said. "He's gotten all the proper rehabilitation that he needs through the course of the week. To be honest with you, his knees weren't an issue at all anyway. He was able to back into the game and finish the game like I mentioned to you guys at the top of the week."
For the Bengals, defensive tackle Geno Atkins (personal), right tackle Bobby Hart (knee), cornerback Darius Phillips (groin), cornerback LeShaun Sims (concussion) and wide receiver John Ross III (foot) have all been ruled out for Sunday. Running back Joe Mixon (foot) did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful. Left tackle Jonah Williams (stinger) is labeled as questionable after being limited in practice all week.