Less than 48 hours before Sunday’s Week 9 games are set to kick off, it appears that multiple teams are making changes at quarterback. One of the NFL’s top signal callers looks like he’ll be ready to return from injury, while a rookie will take over for a struggling veteran.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to make an announcement, but reports indicate that Ben Roethlisberger will be under center when the team visits the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday afternoon. Josh McCown returned from injury to start for the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, but the team says he’ll be benched in favor of Cody Kessler against the Dallas Cowboys.
For any other quarterback, returning this quickly from a torn meniscus would be a surprise. But coming back quickly from injuries has become the norm for Roethlisberger, who has missed just one game this season. Landry Jones got the start for the Steelers when they lost to the New England Patriots in Week 7, and Pittsburgh had a bye in Week 8.
Roethlisberger has been practicing this week, and offensive coordinator Todd Haley told reporters that the quarterback “looked good” on Thursday. Having seen up close and personal what Roethlisberger can do over the years, the Ravens haven’t had any doubt about the quarterback’s status for Sunday.
“You gotta understand, I saw this movie before,” Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said at his press conference. “He’s gonna act like ‘Aw, I’m not playing, I don’t know, I did individual work a little bit.’ But then he’ll walk his big ass on out there and it’ll be ‘How you doin’ Benjamin.’ And then it’s on.”
Cleveland is in a similar situation, putting Kessler back in the lineup now that he’s recovered from a concussion. But McCown had been ahead of Kessler on the Browns’ depth chart, and the play of the two quarterbacks this season forced head coach Hue Jackson to make the change.
McCown has a 74.3 passer rating this season, having started in Week 2 and returning last week when he recovered from a shoulder injury. Kessler took over for the injured McCown in Week 3, and he played in five games before getting hurt. Of the five signal callers that have taken snaps for Cleveland this season, Kessler has easily been the best, posting a 94.4 passer rating with four touchdowns and one interception.
Kessler hopes to lead the Browns to their first win of the season when they host the Cowboys, who have the NFC’s best record. Dak Prescott will make his eighth start of the season, but they have a quarterback controversy brewing with the impending return of Tony Romo.
Romo is almost fully recovered from the back injury he suffered in the preseason, and the Cowboys have not announced whether or not Prescott would keep the job for the entire 2016 season. The rookie is 6-1, ranking sixth in the league with a 99.6 passer rating.