Steelers training camp: Ben Roethlisberger says arm ‘feels really, really good’
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off their 2021 training camp. Here’s what Ben Roethlisberger said during a media session following his first practice.
Fans had a legitimate cause to be concerned about Ben Roethlisberger electing to return to the team in 2021. Despite performing well early in 2020, his play completely plummeted late in the season.
Over the final 6 contests of the year, Big Ben had 5 games in which he threw between 4.4 and 5.8 yards per attempt, according to Pro Football Reference. In fact, Roethlisberger had the lowest yards per attempt of any qualifying quarterback in the second half of the season last year.
As his arm clearly diminished, it was no surprise to see the Steelers score just 19.2 points per game over their last 5 contests of the 2020 season, and Pittsburgh had a three-game losing streak late in the season.
So far, Ben Roethlisberger claims to feel different entering Steelers training camp in 2021. Here’s what he had to say to the media following his first practice, according to the Pittsburgh Steelers official Twitter account:
Ben Roethlisberger was sure to close by noting that his arm ‘feels really, really good’ – something he probably hasn’t been able to say a lot over the past two years. But can it hold up throughout the season?
Will Big Ben’s arm hold up for the Steelers?
Obviously, there’s no guarantee that Roethlisberger’s arm is going to last all year. In addition to being less than two years removed from major elbow surgery that required three ligaments in his throwing arm to be surgically reconstructed, Ben also has age working against him at 39 years old.
Still, there is some reason to be optimistic about Roethlisberger’s arm this season. During his media session, Big Ben admitted to throwing thousands of balls prior to Steelers training camp last year as part of his rehab and to prepare his arm for the beating it would take during the season. This year, Roethlisberger said his arm feels ‘fresher’ and that it was the ‘first time he had thrown a ball since minicamp.’
The less wear-and-tear on his arm, the better. In an effort to preserve Big Ben’s arm, Matt Canada will need to get creative this year. Pittsburgh isn’t going to be able to get by with the short passing game this season – even if the run is improved.
In their electric start last season, Roethlisberger threw the ball just 36.0 times per game over his first 8 games. During his final 8 games (including the playoff loss to the Browns), Ben threw 48.5 times per contest. This is a number the team can’t afford in 2021.
It’s obviously excellent news to hear from Ben Roethlisberger himself that his arm ‘feels really, really good.’ Now it’s up to the Steelers to keep him on somewhat of a pitch count and make sure that all-important arm doesn’t wear out before the end of the season this year.