Roethlisberger expected to play

NFL Notes

Ex-Ravens prospect Fein died of drugs, autopsy concludes

November 25, 2009|By From Sun staff and news services

Ben Roethlisberger's fourth concussion since 2006 apparently won't put him on the bench.

Roethlisberger will play Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium as long as he continues to pass postconcussion tests, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. The tests measure a player's memory and reflexes, among other factors, before and after he has been injured.

"He felt normal. He felt fine," Tomlin said of Roethlisberger's first round of testing. "The battery of tests that he took showed that he had no symptoms. We'll continue to monitor his condition and where he is on a day-to-day basis and let that guide our decision-making."

Roethlisberger's head inadvertently struck the knee of the Chiefs' Derrick Johnson while he was being dropped for a 1-yard loss in overtime during Pittsburgh's 27-24 loss in Kansas City on Sunday. It was the third time Roethlisberger has gotten a concussion during an NFL game.

"It could be characterized as a mild concussion, but I hesitate to use the word mild because concussions are not anything to be taken mildly," Tomlin said. "We're proceeding with caution. ... If any symptoms reoccur, or he feels less than fine, we're going to act appropriately."

The Steelers (6-4) apparently are so convinced their franchise quarterback will be OK that they plan to go into the AFC North game with only Roethlisberger and second-year player Dennis Dixon at the position. They will sign a third quarterback, but he won't be a veteran who is capable of stepping in and playing immediately.

Dixon, a former Oregon quarterback, moved up the depth chart when backup Charlie Batch broke his left wrist after replacing Roethlisberger in overtime. Dixon has thrown one pass in two NFL seasons.

In other news, Pittsburgh signed linebacker Rocky Boiman and former Ravens cornerback Corey Ivy to boost a special teams unit that has permitted an NFL-high four kickoff-return touchdowns in its past five games. Since 1994, the only other team to allow as many kickoff return scores in a single season was the Minnesota Vikings, who gave up four in 1998.

FEIN AUTOPSY: Tony Fein, an Iraq war veteran who was arrested at the Inner Harbor while in training camp with the Ravens, died of an accidental drug overdose in Washington state, an autopsy has determined.

Toxicology reports showed that Fein died of "acute opiate intoxication" and he is believed to have taken morphine and Alprazolam, a Xanax-like drug used to treat anxiety, according to the Kitsap (Wash.) Sun newspaper.

Fein, 27, was found unconscious at a friend's house on Oct. 6, a day before he was due in court on charges that he assaulted a city police officer in an incident that was decried by some as racial profiling.

Prosecutors had notified Fein that the charges would be dropped.

- Justin Fenton

RAVENS: The Ravens placed cornerback Fabian Washington (knee) and running back Matt Lawrence (knee) on injured reserve and signed cornerback Cary Williams off the Titans' practice squad and free-agent fullback Charles Ali.

Ali, 6 feet 2 and 255 pounds, played in 2007 and 2008 for the Browns before being released. Most recently he was playing for New York of the United Football League.

An undrafted free agent out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, he had four starts for the Browns in 2008. He was let go by the team on the final cutdown of camp this September.

CONCUSSIONS: Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to NFL teams, saying the co-chairmen of the league's committee on head injuries have resigned.

Goodell wrote that Dr. Ira Casson and Dr. David Viano no longer will lead the NFL's committee on concussions. Casson has come under attack from the NFL Players Association and members of Congress for criticizing independent and league-sponsored studies linking NFL careers with heightened risk for dementia and cognitive decline.

BILLS: Team officials have contacted two-time Super Bowl-winner Mike Shanahan to see whether he would be interested in interviewing for their coaching position, a person familiar with the search told the Associated Press.

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