Roethlisberger could return next week

Ben Roethlisberger (Getty Images)

The focus soon will turn again to Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to rejoin his teammates in OTA practices, perhaps even next week when they resume Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Roethlisberger completed his behavioral evaluation, and both he and the Steelers await word on when he can return to full participation with his teammates in offseason workouts.

That decision will come from commissioner Roger Goodell once he and staff members review the evaluation results and subsequent recommendations of the professionals who performed them.

Once Goodell is satisfied with the evaluation, he can permit Roethlisberger to practice now and throughout training camp until he must begin serving his 4-6 game suspension at the beginning of the season.

The Steelers renew their practices after taking off since their minicamp ended May 2, a weekend in which Roethlisberger stayed at the NFL-assigned clinic for his evaluation. They conclude their spring practices June 10.

Roethlisberger is said to be working out and in good shape physically and mentally and that he wants to meet the challenge of rebuilding his reputation head-on.

Goodell used the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy to discipline the Steelers' two-time Super Bowl quarterback for incidents that occurred in Milledgeville, Ga., March 4-5. A 20-year-old woman accused Roethlisberger of sexually assault, but after a month investigating the allegations, Georgia prosecutors decided not to charge him with a crime.

Roethlisberger ran with the first team during their first OTA practices April 19-20. That was before Goodell announced a suspension. When he returns to practice, he likely will not be with the first team, maybe not even the second. Coach Mike Tomlin has said he will decide by the opening of training camp who will be his starting quarterback to open the season.

"In all likelihood, I won't say it, but the decision will be made," Tomlin said.

Byron Leftwich ran the first-team offense in the Steelers' three-day minicamp and Dennis Dixon ran with the second team. Charlie Batch was No. 3.

"We got a long process here for the rest of the offseason," said Tomlin, who has 12 OTA days remaining. "We're looking forward to watching those guys work and find rhythm with receivers and so forth, and just continuing to grow."

NOTES, QUOTES

* The Steelers placed wide receiver Limas Sweed on their injured reserve list after he cleared waivers. They signed another player to replace him on a roster that stands at 90. Sweed had surgery on his Achilles tendon after it was ruptured on the final day of the team's minicamp May 2.

They signed first-year WR Isaiah Williams, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie from Maryland last year and was released before the season.

* Starting C Justin Hartwig should see more and more time as OTA practices resume. He had shoulder cleanup surgery after the season. He practiced at minicamp but did not participate in 11-on-11 drills. "It was a prescribed part of his process coming off of his surgery," coach Mike Tomlin said. "As the offseason continues to roll on, we will continue to just work him more and more, and get him up to speed. He's done a nice job with the rehabilitation. He's starting to get his weight back; he's really doing well."

* There will be an adjustment for the wide receivers to make as they switch back and forth between Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich.

"It's different because they throw so much different," WR Mike Wallace said. "Ben's is just soft. Byron has a canon, he's letting it rip. It's different how their balls come out spinning."

"Regardless of the quarterback situation, I've caught balls from all of them so I feel comfortable with whoever's in the ballgame," said Hines Ward

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Ask me on the 18th. Matter of fact, just see if he's here or not." -- Coach Mike Tomlin on whether S Troy Polamalu will continue to work out with the team when OTAs continue Tuesday.

MEDICAL WATCH: WR Limas Sweed was placed on IR after having surgery May 3 to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

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