By Christina Rivers

As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare to face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, several players addressed the media about their return to the team. Ben Roethlisberger, who has missed time after suffering a painful MCL sprain in his left knee and bone bruise, is working on getting healthy. Receiver Martavis Bryant, who missed the first four games of the season, has been active in practice, but has yet to see time on the field in a game. Coach Mike Tomlin hinted that Ryan Shazier will miss more time.

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Roethlisberger: “One day at a time”

After practice on Wednesday, Roethlisberger was approached about his level of readiness and the progress his knee injury has made. Part of the obsession with Roethlisberger’s health has been the way the Steelers offense has under-performed over the course of the last two weeks. Roethlisberger isn’t putting a time table on his return, however.

“Today is Wednesday. I am going to get some treatment, get a workout in, attack practice today and do some seven-on-seven stuff and we will take it one day at a time,” Roethlisberger said. “(The knee) is coming. I have been working hard, I am going to get some stuff done…I am just taking it one day at a time.”

In his weekly press conference, Tomlin made it clear that the team is focused on getting players prepared for Sunday’s game at Heinz Field rather than when they will get Roethlisberger back. Roethlisberger, always the competitor, said that he echoed the sentiment of Tomlin; getting the guys that are healthy ready for the game is the most important focus. It doesn’t mean that Roethlisberger wouldn’t love to be ready to go.

“It’s been tough, because it’s hard to just watch when you want to be out there,” said Roethlisberger, admitting he’s trying to be the best guy on the sideline he can be, helping Vick but not being overbearing. Roethlisberger said that trusting Vick as a professional allows him to give advice without feeling it is necessary to shadow his teammate on and off the field.

Bryant activated to Steelers 53-man roster

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The Steelers didn’t immediately reinstate Bryant to the roster; they waited until Tuesday of this week. Bryant said, “I am going to have a great week of practice and see what happens on Sunday.”

Bryant was inactive against the San Diego Chargers, and speculation was that the team wanted to send a message that he will have to earn his way back into the rotation at receiver, although the coaching staff has not specifically stated anything to that face. Bryant wants to play, says he is ready, but is leaving the decision up to the coaches.

“All I can do is focus on how I do in practice and what I put on my tape in practice,” said Bryant, “and let the coaches decided on that. I am fine right now. I just want to move forward and get back to work today with practice.”

Tomlin talks about Shazier, Spence and V. Williams

With linebacker Ryan Shazier missing his third straight game on Monday night, linebackers Sean Spence and Vince Williams have stepped in nicely, giving the defense confidence that they have able-bodied, capable players to work with. Spence and Williams have shown they are not only prepared to play, but also that they can do so with a proper level of intensity and vision. Spence recorded eight tackles against the Chargers and Williams added six.

“(They) have done an above the line job,” said Tomlin on Tuesday. “We expect those guys to…(they) are not rookies. They are as experience of backup players as you are going to come across. We have a great deal of confidence in them.”

With Shazier is looking fragile after two seasons where injuries that appeared less serious are keeping him from the playing field. Spence and Williams may be called backups by Tomlin, but it is quickly becoming evident that they are critical impact players, week in and week out.

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Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a journalist and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied Exercise Physiology and Sports Psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL as well as a published author. Her work can be found on
Examiner.com.