Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Ben Roethlisberger will not play against the Browns this weekend, while Mason Rudolph will get the start in Cleveland.
Tomlin admitted that the Steelers (12-3), who have already reached a playoff round and the AFC North title, may still start on Sunday, but as of now, Roethlisberger is the only one he has mentioned.
“It does not change our intentions to go to Cleveland this weekend,” Tomlin said. “Football is our game. Our job is to win. We intend to do our job. We intend to prepare with that mindset. And ultimately we lead to that destination. We do not seek comfort. We do not rate ourselves on a curve.
“This game is on the schedule, and so the guys who are on the field will represent us in the standard that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be the standard.”
Tomlin stressed that while a few other players may rest before the playoffs, Sunday’s encounter with the Browns will not include a team that consists entirely of backup, in part due to health issues. Instead, he said, they will likely work in a rotation that limits the speed score of some entrees, while providing healthy backups the opportunity to play.
“This is not a pre-season game where we play backup, where our player has 54 to 75 to evaluate and things like that,” he said. “We have one NFL football team. That NFL football team will play, minus Ben and maybe another guy or two. I do not want to make more of it than it is from that perspective.”
Rudolph’s start begins a year after a fight hampered the end of the teams’ game in Cleveland. Browns star Myles Garrett was suspended for tearing Rudolph’s helmet off and swinging and hitting the quarterback in the head, with seconds left.
Because Garrett was suspended last year and Rudolph was housed for the rematch, Sunday is 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 yet,” Tomlin said of Rudolph’s return to Cleveland. “But I’m sure he’s excited about the chance to start, definitely.”
Cleveland (10-5) could reach the playoffs with a win Sunday, but Tomlin said his team is not necessarily motivated by the possibility of withholding the Browns from the post-season.
“Motivation and intentions and all that stuff, it’s good water cooler feed, and I get it,” Tomlin said. “It’s a scheduled match. Our business is to win. We’re going to prepare with the mindset. It will be unchanged in terms of how we approach it. … I know what our mentality will be. I know what our intentions are. “We’re going to play football.”