PITTSBURGH -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn't practice with the starting offense for the second day in a row Thursday, a sign he is unlikely to play in the team's final regular-season game Sunday in Baltimore.
With the Steelers (10-5) already assured of playing a home playoff game Jan. 5 or 6, it appears unlikely coach Mike Tomlin will risk Roethlisberger aggravating the right ankle he sprained late in the team's 41-24 win at St. Louis on Dec. 20.
Charlie Batch took the snaps with the starters again Thursday and is expected to start for the fourth time in the last three seasons. He was 2-0 as a starter in 2005 and 1-0 last season, but hasn't started since the Steelers' 2006 opener against Miami -- when Roethlisberger sat out after having his appendix removed four days before.
Until Roethlisberger was hurt, he was in position to start all 16 regular season games for the first time in his four-season career.
Earlier Thursday, Roethlisberger was chosen as the AFC offensive player of the week for going 16-of-20 for 261 yards and three touchdowns against St. Louis. He also had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for the second time this season.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press