Steelers will game plan for Chargers as if Mason Rudolph will start, but won’t rule out Ben Roethlisberger yet

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday and was forced to miss the Steelers’ 16-16 tie against the Detroit Lions. Mason Rudolph started in his place, and he may have to again this Sunday when the Steelers travel to take on the Los Angeles Chargers.

On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that Roethlisberger “has an opportunity … to be available to play,” according to Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network. However, Tomlin said that they are going to build their game plan as if Rudolph will be starting. If Roethlisberger can return in time for kickoff, Tomlin said that he has “no reservations” with his starting quarterback playing without much practice time.

Roethlisberger, who is vaccinated, can return to the team when he is symptom-free and when he has recorded two negative COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart. If he was unvaccinated, Roethlisberger would be forced to miss the Chargers game as well. 

Rudolph completed 30 of 50 passes for 242 yards, one touchdown and one interception Sunday. While the Steelers racked up 387 yards of total offense and won the time of possession battle, two fumbles lost in the overtime period precluded them from finding the win column. Pittsburgh had previously won four straight games with Roethlisberger under center. 

Get the latest Steelers scoop from Bryan DeArdo, our local expert who’s on the ground in Pittsburgh, by downloading the CBS Sports app. If you already have the app, favorite the Steelers to get up-to-the-second news.

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