Steelers fans saw a beautiful sight on Saturday, but here’s why Ben Roethlisberger’s road to recovery is so much more than just tossing a football.
Since the 2019 season ended, Steelers fans have been trying to get an update on Ben Roethlisberger’s health and the state of the franchise heading into next season. Just a few short weeks ago, the hope was that Roethlisberger would be able to start throwing tennis balls and other light objects.
However, Ben surprised us all. In a video released by the team, Steelers Nation was shocked to discover that their franchise quarterback was already slinging footballs (albeit without much velocity):
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 22, 2020
While this is all fantastic news, it’s important for fans to remember that Roethlisberger still has a very long way to go on his road to recovery.
Roethlisberger has gone over five months without being able to use his right arm for much of anything. He had a very serious elbow injury, and any little setback could uproot Pittsburgh’s 2020 season before it even starts.
Nobody knows for sure if Ben had the injury prior to the Seahawks game back in Week 2, but some have speculated that his elbow was bothering him much earlier. Ben led the NFL in passing in 2018, and his league-high 675 pass attempts may have started to wear him down.
While I’m as excited as anyone that Ben will be returning in 2020, we shouldn’t get our expectations too high. Prior to last season, it was Roethlisberger, not Jameis Winston, who led the NFL in interceptions since 2015. In the last few seasons, we have seen his throwing power on the deep ball start to fade, and he has struggled with decision making at times.
Roethlisberger turns 38 years old next month and is coming off a major elbow injury. While he’s a future Hall of Fame quarterback, it’s unfair of us to expect the same type of production and efficiency he was able to put up as a Pro Bowler at age 34 or 35.
No matter what physical shape Ben Roethlisberger is in when he returns to the field, there’s no question he will be a significant upgrade over Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. Ben is still very early in the recovery process, but let’s continue to hope that he gets back to full strength by the start of the season.