We needed something good in our lives after pouring one out for DeSean Jackson’s season. So now if you don’t have a girlfriend pillow to hug, you can give Antonio Brown a man hug. He likes that.
Brown has missed the Steelers’ last three games with an ankle sprain, leaving his owners to scour the waiver wire for another mediocre, under-producing receiver in an offense currently led by Charlie Batch. Demand is high.
But hope is here, as Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Brown is expected to practice tomorrow, and he’ll play this weekend against the Ravens. Sure, that’s swell, but his value and startability is linked to Ben Roethlisberger’s health, as no Steelers offensive player is useful if Batch is still bringing the terrible, especially against the Ravens.
Why? The simple answer to that lies on Batch’s birth certificate, where you’ll notice that he was likely on the assembly line when the first footballs were being produced. His only consistency was his inconsistency during only his eighth start since 2001 this past Sunday when he threw three interceptions while averaging only 5.2 yards per pass attempt. What’s worse is that of his 20 completions, only six of them landed in the hands of a wide receiver — five to Brown’s replacement Emmanuel Sanders, while the Steelers’ true burner Mike Wallace was limited to just one catch for nine yards.
Predictably, Heath Miller benefited the most from Batch’s presence, as the backup to the backup checked down like it was his job. Miller finished with 63 yards on six catches, his best yardage total since Week 6. And unbelievably, a running back caught eight passes, while the tight ends and wide receivers combined for 12. Please come back, Ben.
Over the weekend there were multiple reports — most notably from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen — which expressed optimism for Roethlisberger’s Week 13 return. Now those reports have been judo kicked.
Hit us where it hurts, Bouchette:
Coach Mike Tomlin said injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a chance to play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens and he will “leave the door open” for his possible return.
He said the idea right now, however, is that Charlie Batch will start his second game in a row and “we are working on a plan to complement his strengths.”
Meantime, a source close to Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he would be “shocked” if Roethlisberger played against the Ravens and expects him to miss one more game.
Roethlisberger dislocated his rib against the Kansas City Chiefs, tearing the tendon that protects the rib and creating a potentially dangerous situation. He also sustained a sternoclavicular sprain in his throwing shoulder.
The source said it’s not a “pain tolerance” issue with Roethlisberger; rather, it’s a question of how well he can perform with his injuries.
If Batch remains, you’ll have to be at the height of desperation to start Brown, or any Steeler at any position. He lowers everyone to replacement level, meaning that on the wire right now there are far better plug and play options.