Monday, August 07, 2006


Big Ben to Play in Pre-Season Opener?

(The Burgh - August 7, 2006) - With the first pre-season game only 5 days away, talk in the Burgh is not about whether or not Big Ben will be ready for the season opener next month, but rather:

Will Big Ben play play in the pre-season opener this week?

Stillers Nation is pleasantly surprised that Big Ben has recovered from his injuries so quickly, but wonders whether or not it is prudent to play Big Ben at Arizona this Saturday, or let him continue to heal for another week or two before putting him in a position to take a real shot to the head during a live scrimmage.

Not that the Cardinals are expected to try and take Big Ben's head off, but in real game situations (pre-season or not), crazy things can happen, putting him in harm's way. Since the only real way to tell whether or not there is any long-term damage from his head injury will be after Big Ben takes a few good shots to the cranium from opposing defenders, the real question is not whether or not he will play this Saturday, but:

Is Big Ben ready to take a shot to the head yet?

On one side of the aisle is Big Ben himself, who said Coach Bill Cowher would have to "hold me back" from playing in Arizona. Furthering his cause is the fact that he looked like the Ben of old in the first week of training camp. But then again, he is not in a position where he is at risk to take a punishing hit.

On the other side of the aisle is Big Ben's mind and body. He reported to camp 15 pounds lighter than he weighed in at for Super Bowl XL. His face is still healing from the fractures it suffered a mere eight weeks ago. And although Big Ben is prepared to play and wants to play, how much better would it be for him (and the team) if he didn't take any serious hits for another week or two?

Only time will tell whether or not Coach Cowher succumbs to Big Ben's wishes, and if he does, let's hope Big Ben can avoid the guys in white and red jerseys.

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