Big Ben can finally play

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers welcomed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back to the team on Monday after his four-game suspension was lifted.

He had initially been suspended in April for violating the league's personal conduct policy after being accused of sexual assault by a 20-year-old woman at a Georgia nightclub. Criminal charges were never filed.

In his absence, the Steelers have started the season with a 3-1 record. Their only loss came this past Sunday, 17-14, at home against Baltimore on Joe Flacco's TD pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds remaining.

"To be away from my guys, my brothers, my family, that was one of the hardest parts," Roethlisberger said. "That's what made coming here today so great. I think every single one of the guys came and gave me a big hug."

The Steelers went through a QB carousel in Roethlisberger's absence. Dennis Dixon started the season and led the Steelers to an overtime win over Atlanta. The third-year signal-caller lasted just over a quarter versus the Titans, though, on September 19 and is out the remainder of the season due to torn meniscus in his left knee. Veteran Charlie Batch has filled in since, but now turns over the signal calling to a two-time Super Bowl champion.

"It was hard, it really was, to watch them at home," Roethlisberger said. "I was on the edge of my chair, trying to keep busy, watching them standing up, sitting down. It was tough, but it was fun watching them win."

Pittsburgh has a bye this week before hosting Cleveland October 17.

"There's been a lot of very positive feedback from the fans," Roethlisberger said. "I would hope that there's going to be some encouraging cheers."


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