PITTSBURGH - Still trying to get over Sunday's debacle in Cleveland?
Better shake it off. The Pittsburgh Steelers play at Baltimore this Sunday, and that won't be easy. The Steelers had better shake off the Cleveland game, too.
That will be easier to do if they get Ben Roethlisberger back in the lineup. Coach Mike Tomlin reported that Roethlisberger did some throwing on Monday and might be able to play on Sunday.
In the meantime, the Steelers are preparing as though Charlie Batch will start. That undoubtedly makes some people cringe, and understandably so.
Batch was terrible on Sunday, but there are a couple of points that need to be made. Any team is in trouble if it's down to its third option at quarterback. Batch isn't very good, and that's why he had the spot on the depth chart that he did.
He's playing because two disabling injuries knocked out the first two choices at quarterback.
Beyond that, Batch didn't get much help in Cleveland. You know by now that fumbling was a four-man medley. There was also evidence that receivers ran poor routes. Little wonder that Heath Miller became Batch's favorite target. Miller's effort is always exemplary, regardless of the game situation.
The defense could have helped, too, by generating turnovers to gain better field position. Instead, nothing happened after Lawrence Timmons returned an interception for a touchdown in the opening minute.
Even if Roethlisberger is physically able to play, how much will be able to do? He'll be wearing a flak jacket, an extra burden that could affect his ability to throw the ball. The Steelers also have to deal with the reality that another big hit could end Roethlisberger's season. That's a genuine concern with the Steelers' offensive line.
As bad as Cleveland was, the Steelers are still in good position to make the playoffs. They'll still have a chance even if they lose this week.
The first step toward improvement is forgetting everything that happened in Cleveland.
Pick and choose
The Pirates have until Friday to decide which arbitration-eligible players will receive contract offers. If they don't get an offer, they can become free agents.
Two of the players on the bubble are pitchers Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton. Karstens was limited to 90 innings last season by shoulder and hip injuries. Morton's season ended early because of ligament replacement surgery that will keep him out for the start of the 2013 season.
The Pirates should bring both of them back. Pitching always requires reinforcements. Karstens and Morton have both shown they can be effective.
They need to bring them back for the sake of depth. It's a risk, but one worth taking.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org