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Roethlisberger has hyperextended left knee

PITTSBURGH (Oct. 11, 2005) -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a hyperextended left knee and a bone bruise sustained during a game-winning field goal drive at the end of a 24-22 victory against San Diego on Oct. 10, but hasn't been ruled out of an Oct. 16 game against Jacksonville.

The injury isn't as severe as it initially appeared to be -- immediately after the game, coach Bill Cowher said "it looked bad."

"It's a deep sigh of relief," Cowher said.

Roethlisberger, 16-1 as an NFL regular-season starter, was injured with 1:05 remaining when Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo's helmet collided with his left knee as Roethlisberger was completing a 9-yard pass to Antwaan Randle El.

Roethlisberger lay in pain on the turf for several minutes, clutching at his knee, before limping off the field. He was removed from the field on a cart, his knee heavily wrapped, after Jeff Reed kicked a 40-yard field goal with six seconds remaining, but he had no bandage on the knee when he got dressed shortly after that.

Roethlisberger had an MRI test shortly after the team returned to Pittsburgh.

Roethlisberger was the NFL's offensive rookie of the year last season after going 13-0 on a team that went a franchise-record 15-1 before ultimately losing to New England 41-27 in the AFC championship game. He was off to an excellent start this season, completing 52 of 86 passes for 913 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating of 123.8 is the best in the league.

Backup Tommy Maddox sat out the San Diego game with a calf injury, but also could be available Oct. 16. Cowher said his injury also wasn't as bad as initially thought.

If neither Roethlisberger nor Maddox can play, the Steelers would turn to 30-year-old Charlie Batch, the Lions' starter from 1998 until late in the 2001 season who has played little since signing with his hometown Steelers before the 2002 season.

Batch has thrown only eight passes, completing four, in four seasons with the Steelers. He didn't throw a pass in the 2002 season, then missed all of last season with a knee injury that occurred during training camp.

The Steelers considered cutting Batch before the season started, but decided to keep three veteran quarterbacks -- something few NFL teams do -- after he threw two touchdown passes in leading a comeback victory at Carolina in the team's final preseason game Sept. 1.

"The news on Ben is very good, but it's good that we have Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch," Cowher said. "As of now, Charlie is the starter by default."

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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