In almost every season of his career, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has dealt with serious injuries, although he hasn’t always missed time. Though he has played in all 16 regular season games three times in his 13-year career, his 2008 season was riddled with injuries, and late in the year, he rarely was able to practice during the week.
While he has been able to shorten lengthy projected recovery periods before, Roethlisberger probably knows better than anybody that he has, at times, tried to come back from injuries too soon. You can just look back at his history of games on his first time back from injury, including last season, to see how he performs in such situations.
Right now, Roethlisberger is trying to get ready to play three weeks after suffering a meniscus tear, and just under three weeks of undergoing an operation to fix the issue. While that is within the optimistic spectrum of the projected timeline, he is still being cautious, even if he has already begun throwing.
During his weekly radio spot, Roethlisberger recalled an anecdote from his first head coach, former Steelers leader Bill Cowher, who, when addressing him at some point after being injured, who was fond of the aphorism, “don’t be soft, don’t be stupid”.
In essence, Cowher’s approach to rehab was trying to find a balance between aggressiveness and toughness, but also intelligence, and understanding one’s limits. Roethlisberger is a man in his mid-30s now, so one would think that he has a pretty good understand by now of what his body is capable of withstanding, and what the repercussions would be of trying to push through something.
So that is the approach that the quarterback is taking in working his way back from his latest injury. “I need to know what I can and can’t do”, he said on his radio spot, and he began to get a feel for just that over the course of the past two days while throwing some passes and doing some light workouts.
“I don’t want to [hurt the team by coming back and not being able to play well]”, he said. “In this situation, it would be smart to get a good, full practice in”. And that is the goal for next week, to make sure that he can get through a full practice before that is any sort of commitment to getting him back under center.
While Roethlisberger suffered that meniscus tear, it was not the only bump he took in the game, and he also addressed the foot to the right knee that he took from Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, saying that the kick was “harder than anything’s ever hit my knee before”.
He wouldn’t comment on whether or not it was a dirty play beyond saying that only Suh knows for sure, and that the league didn’t think so. But the right knee at least seems to be fine at this point. The focus is now getting that left knee ready to go.