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Sore Roethlisberger won't start

PITTSBURGH — The choice is never really much of a choice for Ben Roethlisberger. Given the option to play or rest his sprained left ankle today against St. Louis, the Steelers quarterback would rather take the field.

"I'm in the here and now," he said.

Then again, Roethlisberger allowed, it's never his call.

And coach Mike Tomlin will go with veteran Charlie Batch.

A playoff spot already clinched, the Steelers will try to keep their hopes for an AFC North title alive with Batch, 37, who is 4-2 as a spot starter over the past six seasons.

"We can still make big plays with (Batch)," Steelers receiver Mike Wallace said. "But instead of catching the ball 50 yards down the field, maybe we do it 15 yards down the field and do stuff after the catch."

CONCUSSION SUIT: Nearly two dozen former players are among the latest suing the league over severe and permanent brain damage they say is linked to concussions suffered on the job. The complaint filed Thursday in Miami follows a similar one in Atlanta this week and is the latest in a series of recent lawsuits by ex-players. The new suit was filed on behalf of ex-Dolphins teammates Patrick Surtain and Oronde Gadsden and 19 others. It accuses the league of omitting or concealing years of evidence linking concussions to long-term neurological issues.

FINES: The league docked Raiders defensive back Jerome Boyd and Bengals linebacker Dan Skuta $20,000 for blindside hits, and Lions defensive end Cliff Avril and linebacker Stephen Tulloch $15,000 for horse-collar tackles on Sunday. Others fined: Bengals safety Chris Crocker ($15,000), Giants linebacker and former USF star Jason Pierre-Paul ($10,000) and Texans linebacker Brian Cushing ($10,000) for illegal hits, and Jets receiver Santonio Holmes ($7,500) for excessive celebration.

IN LINE FOR LUCK: Even after winning their past two games, including Thursday over the Texans, the Colts are still in line for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft if they lose their finale. They have played a weaker schedule than the Vikings and Rams, who also have two wins. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is considered the top prospect.

DEATH RULING: A Los Angeles coroner's office says the cause of death for the 18-year-old son of former NFL quarterback Erik Kramer was a heroin overdose. Thousand Oaks High School backup quarterback Griffen Kramer was found dead Oct. 30 in his Agoura Hills home.

BENGALS: The Brown family increased its control of the team after obtaining shares held through the Austin Knowlton estate. Team president Mike Brown's late father, Paul Brown, was an original owner and the first coach in 1968.

Dolphins: Tight end Anthony Fasano was ruled out for today because of a concussion.

EAGLES: Cornerback Asante Samuel was ruled out for today with an injured hamstring. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will start in his place.

Panthers: Starting corner Captain Munnerlyn went on season-ending injured reserve with a strained left hamstring sustained Sunday against the Titans.

TITANS: Running back Chris Johnson is questionable for today with a sore right ankle.

Sore Roethlisberger won't start 12/23/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2011 9:35pm]
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