First Call: Seahawks coach has high praise for Ben Roethlisberger; injury updates on Russell Wilson, Aaron Donald


In Thursday’s “First Call,” Ben Roethlisberger is still drawing high praise from Pete Carroll. Injury reports are in on former Pitt star Aaron Donald and some of Carroll’s players in Seattle.

Plus, a spin around the AFC North.

Nothing has changed

Prior to Sunday’s win over the Denver Broncos, 2021 had been a real struggle for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Come to think of it, the last six weeks of 2020 weren’t so hot either.

But that isn’t changing how Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll describes the quarterback his team will be facing Sunday night at Heinz Field.

“I think he’s amazing,” Carroll told Pittsburgh reporters Wednesday. “When I addressed the team and talked to them about the Steelers, I started talking about Ben. Everybody’s watched him, it feels like their whole careers. He’s been around forever. He’s an iconic football player in the NFL.”

But Carroll insists it’s not just Roethlisberger’s resume that is impressive. It’s his tape this year as well.

“He’s still using the whole field. He’s advanced games in different ways over the years. They spread the ball really well,” Carroll continued. “They get rid of the football extremely quickly and cause a real problem for your pass rush. He’s making big plays, as always. We see him, really, the same that he’s been. As the offense has been styled a little bit differently, he’s adapted really well to it and really commands it.”

How much of that is true, and how much is Carroll merely propping up the opponent and avoiding bulletin board material? Only he could tell us.

But one line I have to point out that sounds really hollow is “We see him, really, the same that he’s been.”

C’mon. That can’t possibly be true. Even Roethlisberger’s own coach has acknowledged Big Ben’s big drop in mobility. That fading asset has led to one noteworthy issue in particular for Roethlisberger: an inability to extend plays behind the line of scrimmage.

That trait may have been his strongest — and the biggest reason why he’ll wind up in the Hall of Fame someday. So, when Carroll says the offense is now “styled a little bit differently,” yeah, that’s an understatement.

In fact, prior to last week, whatever “style” the Steelers had on display was pretty ugly.

Healthy as a … Hawk?

The Steelers injury list may be lengthy. But so is Seattle’s.

Starting running back Chris Carson (neck), linebacker Bobby Wagner (knee) and offensive linemen Gabe Jackson and Kyle Fuller were both mentioned with an illness.

However, Carson is expected to practice Thursday, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was wearing a helmet and going through warmups before Wednesday’s practice, according to The Seattle Times but was listed as a non-participant.

According to SeahawksWire.com, the team is trying to decide whether to put Wilson on injured reserve after damaging his finger against the Los Angeles Rams last Thursday. They’d have to do so by Saturday for the Steelers game to count towards the three he’d have to miss while on IR.

Donald dinged

The seemingly indestructible Aaron Donald is fighting through an injury in Los Angeles.

Via ProFootballTalk, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year didn’t practice Wednesday. A Rams spokesman told beat writers that Donald experienced swelling in one of his knees after banging it into another player during last Thursday’s game.

Rams coach Sean McVay did not mention Aaron Donald‘s knee injury at his pre-practice news conference. Donald has 24 tackles, three sacks and eight quarterback hits this season.

Football fireworks

Expect a lot of points to be scored in the AFC North this weekend.

The Cincinnati Bengals game versus the Detroit Lions may be tame. But the others should ring up the scoreboard.

Even with Wilson out, I’d bet on the Steelers-Seahawks game going over a relatively low 42.5 point over-under total (BetRivers.com). After all, Seattle’s defense is awful. The Steelers offense is starting to improve. And I think the Steelers may have some matchup issues with Seattle’s receivers.

The Baltimore Ravens-Los Angeles Chargers game is at 51.5. That also feels low as the Ravens have football’s best offense in terms of total yards (440.6), and the Chargers are seventh best (411.4).

The Cleveland Browns versus Arizona Cardinals game is sitting at 49.5. That smells like an over, too. The Cards average 31.4 points, Cleveland 28.4. Those are the fourth- and sixth-highest totals in the NFL.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

Categories: Sports | Steelers/NFL | Breakfast With Benz