Ben Roethlisberger's first big gain of the season may occur weeks before he returns to the field.
His six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy likely will be shortened to four games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after the two meet in New York today. The meeting will take place about 12 hours after the quarterback played two series in the Steelers’ final exhibition game, completing 4 of 6 passes for 39 yards against the Carolina Panthers in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers ended up winning the game, 19-3, but in the process Roethisberger’s backup, Byron Leftwich, injured his left knee during the second quarter and did not return.
It’s uncertain how long Leftwich would be out.
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The league plans to review Roethlisberger’s behavior since he was accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia college student after a night of drinking in a Milledgeville, Ga., bar on March 5. Once it was determined that Roethlisberger would not be charged in Georgia, Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for the start of the season and ordered him to undergo an extensive evaluation.
If Roethlisberger followed the league’s guidelines and stayed out of trouble, Goodell said he would consider cutting the suspension to four games.
Sam Bradford made another favorable impression in his second exhibition start, going 6-for-6 for 68 yards and a touchdown in St. Louis’ 27-21 victory over Baltimore. … Rhett Bomar threw a 60-yard scoring pass to Duke Calhoun with 1:49 to play as the New York Giants rallied for a 20-17 victory over New England. … Mark Brunell’s 51-yard touchdown pass to former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes in the fourth quarter put the New York Jets ahead to stay in a 21-17 win over Philadelphia. …Cedric Peerman had a 93-yard TD run in the third quarter to lead Cincinnati past Indianapolis, 30-28. … Fullback Brock Bolen scored on a 16-yard run, Josh Scobee kicked two field goals and Jacksonville beat Atlanta, 13-9. … Third-string quarterback Drew Stanton threw two second-half TD passes to lift Detroit to a 28-23 win over Buffalo. …Matt Cassel and Brodie Croyle each led TD drives as Kansas City beat Green Bay, 17-13, for its first exhibition victory since 2008. … Alvin Pearman’s 5-yard TD with 3:18 left helped Tennessee beat New Orleans, 27-24. … Rudy Carpenter threw two touchdown passes to Arrelious Benn, Corey Lynch returned one of his two interceptions 91 yards for another score, and Tampa Bay beat Houston, 24-17. …Minnesota forced four first-half turnovers in a 31-24 win over Denver. … David Buehler kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired – his fourth of the game – lifting Dallas past Miami, 27-25. … Rookie Colt McCoy got his first pro start and went 13 of 13 for 131 yards in Cleveland’s 13-10 win over Chicago. … Manny Lawson and rookie Taylor Mays each had interceptions as San Francisco beat San Diego, 17-14. … Max Hall completed 7 of 9 passes for 126 yards and scored on a 6-yard run in Arizona’s 20-10 win over Washington.
Cleveland Browns rookie running back Montario Hardesty left his exhibition debut against the Bears because of an injured left knee. … Denver Broncos running back LenDale White left in the second quarter against Minnesota with an injured ankle.