Steelers classify Roethlisberger as probable

Ben Roethlisberger's return to the Pittsburgh Steelers following a three-week absence appears all but assured, with the team listing the star quarterback as probable for Sunday's game against San Diego.

Head coach Mike Tomlin had previously announced on Thursday that Roethlisberger, who's been sidelined with injuries to his ribs and right shoulder sustained in a Nov. 12 win over Kansas City, would start against the Chargers after practicing fully for a second straight day.

Byron Leftwich replaced Roethlisberger in the following week's matchup against Baltimore, a 13-10 Pittsburgh loss, but fractured a rib in that game. Third- stringer Charlie Batch then guided the offense in a Week 12 defeat at Cleveland and directed a fourth-quarter comeback in this past Sunday's 23-20 road victory over the AFC North-leading Ravens.

With Leftwich questionable for Sunday's test, Batch could serve as the backup to Roethlisberger against the Chargers.

Pittsburgh did formally rule out cornerback Ike Taylor and LaMarr Woodley for the contest, as well as rookie offensive tackle Mike Adams.

Taylor may miss the remainder of the regular season after exiting last Sunday's clash with the Ravens with a significant ankle injury, while Woodley will sit out a second straight game with a sprained ankle suffered against Cleveland. Adams also did not play last week due to an ankle problem of his own.