The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t taking any chances with their franchise quarterback’s sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib.
Though the Steelers confirmed Ben Roethlisberger will return to the starting lineup on Sunday against San Diego after missing three weeks due to injury, Roethlisberger will take the field with a little extra protection.
Roethlisberger will play with a custom fit rib/chest compression shirt and a layer of Kevlar-lined composite in his shoulder pads to help absorb hits to his clavicle and shoulder joint regions.
The padding, made by Unequal Technologies, has grown popular across the NFL. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick wore a similar compression shirt after injuring his ribs a few years ago and dozens of players — including Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison — use Unequal CRT in their helmets.
The padding — about a half-inch thick— in Roethlisberger’s shoulder pads is similar to the gear the company puts in its chest protectors for baseball catchers. Roethlisberger said last week his shoulder pads had been “juiced up” by the team trainers.
Whatever he’s wearing, the Steelers (7-5) are eager to have him back on the field. Roethlisberger took “90 percent” of the first-team snaps on Thursday without any major issues.