Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger activated after passing COVID-19 protocols

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger is back.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was activated to the team's 53-man roster on Saturday after passing the NFL's COVID-19 protocols, the Steelers announced.

Roethlisberger will fly separately from the team charter to Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon with the expectation he will start Sunday night against the Los Angeles Chargers, according to the team.

Roethlisberger, who is vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 13 and needed two negative tests to exit the protocols.

A year ago, Roethlisberger missed a week of practice as a high-risk close contact of a teammate who tested positive. He was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list that Saturday and threw for 333 yards and four touchdown passes in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that the team would design a game plan around Mason Rudolph, who started for Roethlisberger against the Detroit Lions, and proceed as if he would be starting the Sunday night matchup, but the coach said he would "leave a light on" for Roethlisberger.

"He's been injured and had personal discomfort in the past over the course of the 15 years that we've worked together," Tomlin said. "He always answers that bell, and so we'll definitely leave the light on for him."

Roethlisberger, 39, was involved in meetings all week and kept up with the game plan through virtual meetings with quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan and offensive coordinator Matt Canada. He also checked in with running back Najee Harris and center Kendrick Green, who said Friday the quarterback told him he was "feeling better."

"I've talked to him every day," Canada said Thursday. "Talked about the plan, talked about what we're thinking. Obviously, he's also met with Sully every day and gone through the specifics of those things.

"He's preparing like he's going to be there and be ready to go. It's almost exactly like last year. It's just all Zoom meetings. We've all got practice at that. He's very much engaged, watching practice and knowing what's going on."