Is Ben Roethlisberger playing tonight against the Chargers?

After spending the week in COVID protocols, is Ben Roethlisberger playing in Week 11 or will the Steelers have to turn to Mason Rudolph?

Having missed last week after testing positive for COVID, is Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger set to play in Week 11? Let’s take a look at the latest regarding Roethlisberger’s status and whether he will suit up against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football.

Is Ben Roethlisberger playing today against the Los Angeles Chargers?

It appears as though Roethlisberger will be active for the Steelers’ Week 11 matchup in Los Angeles. The Steelers’ Director of Communications, Burt Lauten, tweeted Saturday that Roethlisberger would be added to the 53-man roster after passing the NFL COVID protocols. Lauten also added that Roethlisberger would fly to Los Angeles separately from the team.

The fact the Steelers are playing in Los Angeles added some complications for Roethlisberger. Had they been playing in Pittsburgh, he could have been given up until Sunday morning to clear the protocols. He could have still traveled separately from the team, but that would have raised some eyebrows had he still been in the COVID protocols. As it turned out, he was able to pass the protocols with around 36 hours to spare.

What should we expect from Roethlisberger in Week 11?

This is the toughest part to judge about Roethlisberger. It was reported last week that Roethlisberger presented himself for a COVID test after having symptoms. What we do not know is how severe those symptoms were and what the lasting impact might be.

We saw Aaron Rodgers look less than 100% after coming back from a positive COVID test. However, there is a difference in that Roethlisberger is vaccinated and Rodgers is not. This could mean the effect on Roethlisberger is reduced.

The additional element is that Roethlisberger had to attend meetings virtually this week and has not practiced with the team. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was quoted as saying that he has spoken to Roethlisberger every day. However, it can be hard to replace the preparation of in-person team meetings and running through plays during practice.

Mason Rudolph had been preparing to start again in Week 11

The Steelers have had to deal with the disruption of not knowing who their starting QB would be again this week until late. After Roethlisberger was ruled out late last week, Mason Rudolph had to step in with limited preparation. As expected, Rudolph somewhat struggled. He completed 30 of 50 attempts for 242 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. However, the game plan had been devised around Roethlisberger and had to be adjusted on the fly.

Rudolph does practice with the first team regularly on a Wednesday, but then he strictly takes the backup role throughout the rest of the week. Given that, his 70.6 passer rating could be somewhat excused. However, his uninspiring performance against the Lions will have had many Steelers fans hoping Roethlisberger could return.

In contrast this week, the practice game plan has been put in place as though Rudolph would be playing. Now that has to switch to Roethlisberger. The Steelers’ long-term franchise QB is a veteran and has plenty of experience with this unit. Therefore, the transition to Roethlisberger starting should in theory come with less concern than the switch last week.

The Steelers might be somewhat sluggish out of the gate as those adjustments get made, but they should be able to make up for it. However, in a crucial game for the AFC playoff picture, the Steelers will not want to fall too far behind the Chargers, whose offense can score points at will at times.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

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