Ben Roethlisberger cleared to practice after undergoing tests

ByJeremy Fowler ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

PITTSBURGH -- What's clear is Ben Roethlisberger can practice. The Steelers evaluated their quarterback's concussion symptoms this week, and he's received the green light to see the field after undergoing tests on Tuesday and Wednesday.

What's unclear, at least to Roethlisberger, is whether he had a concussion at all.

Roethlisberger on Wednesday said a team physician told him on the sideline against Seattle that he didn't have a concussion. Two days later, coach Mike Tomlin told the media that Roethlisberger is in the protocol for "what is now being described as a concussion."

The Steelers on Wednesday reiterated their statement from a day earlier that the Tuesday test revealed a concussion and Roethlisberger didn't know those results when he left the building.

Roethlisberger said watery eyes affected his peripheral vision after taking a hit from Michael Bennett in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 39-30 loss to the Seahawks. He stayed in for the next nine plays before coming off the field and self-reporting the problem.

Roethlisberger said Tuesday that he suffered a traumatic ocular migraineon the play.

"I had no symptoms of a concussion -- no headaches, no dizziness, no nausea, no any of that stuff that comes with it," Roethlisberger said. "That's why on the sideline when I told the doctors what I was feeling and my symptoms, Dr. [Joseph] Maroon and the rest of the training staff -- and Dr. Maroon, one of the best head neurologists in the world -- said I didn't have a concussion. So that's why I think I was so confused yesterday when Coach Tomlin said I had one. I just think they need to get together and tell their players what's going on. I was just relaying what the doctors told me."

Landry Jones said Wednesday was a normal workload for the quarterbacks, with Roethlisberger taking his typical slate of first-team reps.

Roethlisberger, when making a weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh on Tuesday, said he felt concussion-free. Tomlin addressed the media about an hour later. The team clarified that the results of Tuesday's test confirmed Roethlisberger had a concussion. Apparently, Roethlisberger didn't know that yet, thus fueling the confusion.

"When I left the training room, the trainers told me that it looks good, don't see why this would be an issue," Roethlisberger said. "That's why I said [on the radio] that I was ready to go. And he did say he had to check with a third party. So obviously whether it's a third party or Coach Tomlin or another doctor said you're not clear. Whether they are covering rear ends or what's going on, I said, OK, I'll take it tomorrow morning, which is this morning, got the same thing from the trainer, they said: 'Ben, it's fine. You're ready to practice.'"

While the NFL and NFLPA are investigating whether officials followed proper protocol after the hit, Roethlisberger said he believes "everyone did their job appropriately," as head official Walt Anderson looked at him as he caught his breath on the field and trainer John Norwig evaluated him as he got water on the sideline.

Roethlisberger said he noticed the eye problem a few plays after the hit but didn't feel compelled to react.

"There were only a few plays left in the series, and you're kind of in the moment, things are going, adrenaline's going," Roethlisberger said. "It's not like I'm woozy, dizzy, falling down -- I could see straightforward no problem, it was just the periphery. I didn't feel like it was a rush to call timeout and get out of the game."

One area that has no gray area for Roethlisberger -- he's glad he self-reported. He's not sure he would have done that earlier in his career.

"We weren't smart. We need to be smarter as football players," Roethlisberger said. "If we can have each other's backs ... that's huge."

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