http://www.mcmillenandwife.com/ POSTED 11:57 p.m. EDT, June 12, 2006 ROETHLISBERGER NOT A LOCK TO PLAY IN 2006 Although there's optimism in Pittsburgh on Monday night after seven hours of surgery to repair "multiple" facial fractures, there's still no guarantee that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be able to play football in 2006. Dr. Michael Kaner, a Pennsylvania dentist and long-time PFT reader, has shared with us some general observations regarding Roethlisberger's potential prognosis. Dr. Kaner has emphasized this his input is hypothetical only, and that he has no information regarding the signal-caller's actual condition. Dr. Kaner says to keep an ear out for the term "Le Fort" in connection with Roethliberger's facial fractures. "Le Fort fractures (1,2 or 3) refer to the level of fracture of the upper jaw separating it from the skull," said Dr. Kaner. "If those words are mentioned in any press conference, he's not playing in 2006 regardless of what anybody says." Dr. Kaner outlined other questions that would be relevant to determining whether Roethlisberger can play this year. "How many fractures are there and where are they? Obviously, the more fractures there are, the longer the recovery period and the greater risk of complications. "Is the fracture displaced, that is out of the normal alignment. With the extent of the trauma he experienced, it would not be out of the realm of possibility for the oral surgeons to have to rebuild his jaw and wire it together with titanium plates or screws. If it's a multiple fracture, he could be out all year. "The other question is whether he fractured his upper jaw. You traditionally think of the lower jaw as being fractured but there can be fractures to the upper jaw, with many complications. "Is the fracture closed (totally under the skin) or open (bone exposed to the elements substantially increasing the risk of post-operative infection). His other risks are of other teeth needing root canals or if fractured themselves, needing to be extracted. "While wired shut, he will be on a pure liquid diet, and how will that impact a pro athlete? Not positively I'm sure." Another source with knowledge of jaw and facial injuries has broken the issue down to a single question. If Roethsliberger's jaw is merely wired shut, he'll miss 6-to-8 weeks. If he has had plates or other hardware inserted into his face, he'll miss a minimum of six months. As of now, the doctors, the family, and the team know the answer. Within the next 24 hours, our guess is that the rest of us will know it, too.