Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Ben Roethlisberger will not play this weekend against the Browns, with Mason Rudolph instead getting the start in Cleveland.
Tomlin acknowledged the Steelers (12-3), who already have clinched a playoff spot and the AFC North title, may rest more starters Sunday, but as of now, Roethlisberger is the only one he named.
“It does not change our intentions, in terms of going to Cleveland this weekend,” Tomlin said. “Football is our game. Our job is winning. We intend to do our job. We intend to prepare with that mindset. And ultimately lead us to that destination. We’re not seeking comfort. We’re not grading ourselves on a curve.
“This game is on the schedule and so the guys that will be on the field will represent us in the standard that is the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the standard.”
Tomlin emphasized that while a couple of other players may rest ahead of the playoffs, Sunday’s meeting with the Browns won’t feature a team made up entirely of backups, in part because of health concerns. Instead, he said, they’ll likely work in a rotation that limits the snap counts of some starters, while giving the healthy backups opportunities to play.
“This is no preseason game where we’re playing backups, where we have player 54 through 75 to evaluate and things of that nature,” he said. “We’ve got one NFL football team. That NFL football team will go play, minus Ben and maybe another guy or two. I don’t want to make more out of it than what it is from that perspective.”
Rudolph’s start comes a year after a fight marred the end of the teams’ game in Cleveland. Browns star Myles Garrett was suspended for ripping off and swinging Rudolph’s helmet, hitting the quarterback in the head with it, with seconds remaining.
Because Garrett was suspended and Rudolph was benched for the rematch last year, Sunday will be the first time the two have played against each other since the incident.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it,” Tomlin said of Rudolph’s return to Cleveland. “But I’m sure he’s excited about getting an opportunity to start, certainly.”
Cleveland (10-5) can make the playoffs with a win Sunday, but Tomlin said his team isn’t necessarily motivated by the possibility of keeping the Browns from the postseason.
“Motivation and intentions and all of those things, that’s good water cooler fodder and I get it,” Tomlin said. “This is a scheduled game. Our business is to win. We’re going to prepare with that mindset. That will be unchanged in terms of how we approach it. … I know what our mentality will be. I know what our intentions will be. We’ll go play football.”