Though the Pittsburgh Steelers confirmed Ben Roethlisberger will return to the starting lineup on Sunday against San Diego after missing three weeks due to injury, Roethlisberger will take the field with a little extra protection.
Roethlisberger will play with a custom fit rib/chest compression shirt and a layer of Kevlar-lined composite in his shoulder pads to help absorb hits to his clavicle and shoulder joint regions.
The padding – about a half-inch thick – in Roethlisberger’s shoulder pads is similar to chest protectors for baseball catchers.
Whatever he’s wearing, the Steelers are eager to have him back on the field. Roethlisberger took “90 percent” of the first-team snaps on Thursday without any major issues.
“He looks like himself for the most part,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “Now I don’t know what he’s feeling when he’s doing some of those things. But it looks like he’s moving around pretty good.”
Roeth- lisberger said he felt “good” but declined to expand. Haley doesn’t expect there to be any limitations to the playbook though he joked he might not call as many designed run plays for his quarter- back, who never met a play he didn’t like to extend.
The Steelers went 1-2 in Roethlisberger’s absence, including a 23-20 victory over Baltimore last week behind backup Charlie Batch.
Around the league
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is willing to contribute funding to help build a stadium in Oakland to keep the Raiders in town. … New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller sat out practice for the second straight day with a sprained left ankle, leaving his status for the team’s game at Jacksonville on Sunday uncertain. … Veteran offensive tackle David Diehl is back in the New York Giants’ starting lineup after Sean Locklear suffered a major knee injury that will sideline him for the rest of the season. … Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Chris Hairston has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season with a bone injury in his right ankle. The Bengals have signed place kicker Josh Brown to fill in for the injured Mike Nugent. Cincinnati hosts Dallas on Sunday.