When Ben Roethlisberger went down with a knee injury against the St. Louis Rams in week three, there were many who argued the Pittsburgh Steelers' playoffs hopes had gone with him.
And, although Michael Vick wasn't terrible in his first start last Thursday, a defeat to the Ravens and the prospect of Big Ben being out until well into November only strengthened that prediction.
However, all might not be lost for the Steelers after all. According to CBS Sports, Roethlisberger is making such good progress in his recovery that there is a legitimate belief that the veteran could be back under center before the end of the month.
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Per Jason La Canfora:
"Roethlisberger is off crutches and moving well, according to team sources, and his MCL is on target for a four-week return...At this point a safe estimate is Oct. 25 at Kansas City, barring any setbacks."
Considering early reports had suggested Roethlisberger would be out for at least six-seven weeks, this update is a timely boost for a franchise that had been fearing the worst moving forward.
Sitting on a 2-2 record, Pittsburgh are approaching a crunch point in their season.
Although they may have to go into games against the Chargers and Cardinals without their Pro Bowl quarterback, the possibility that he could be in the line-up in time for week seven would mean, at worst, Pittsburgh would be two games below .500 by the time Roethlisberger returned to action.
Of course, the Steelers will be hoping to welcome back Big Ben with a winning record, and they will try to secure victory without him when they take on the San Diego Chargers next Monday night.
Steelers fans: Could your team make the playoffs without Roethlisberger? Have your say in the comments below...