Roethlisberger explained that the team captains asked Villanueva to meet them at the top of the tunnel, and amid chaos from Bears fans in the area and the anthem music starting, the players stopped short and Villanueva was left alone. Roethlisberger estimates players were about 20 feet behind Villanueva. I regret not going down to Al, but Al didn’t know that we weren’t there, Villanueva said. Al thought we were standing with him. There was no division there. … It was just the way it appeared through pictures.
Heyward said the captains have spoken with Villanueva, who was with the team during Monday’s meetings. Villanueva told Heyward he was shocked by the pictures, Heyward said.
Villanueva insisted Monday he was not making a statement, that saluting the colors had everything to do with miscommunication and nothing to do with him setting himself apart from the organization, the coaches or the players who have helped craft his improbable success story.
Right tackle Ryan Schraeder, who sustained a concussion during last week’s win over Green Bay, was ruled out for Sunday’s matchup with the Lions on Friday. Former Bronco Ty Sambrailo will play in place of Schraeder in what will be Sambrailo’s eighth career start in three NFL seasons. Detroit’s flurry of pass-rushers, led by Ziggy Ansah, is sure to be a challenge for a new starter such as Sambrailo, as well as established left tackle Jake Matthews. — Vaughn McClure