The calendar has now flipped over to July and that means the Pittsburgh Steelers annual training camp will be getting underway in Latrobe later this month. As usual, we have several series planned to get you ready for this year’s training camp and mine will center around preview profiles of 50 players over the course of the next 25 days. Most of these profiles will be on players who were under contract with the team in 2016.
Up first in this series is a 2017 preview profile of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Intro: Roethlisberger enters his 14th season surrounded by perhaps the most-talented offensive unit he’s had so far during his career and that includes an offensive line that returns all five starters from last season. As usual, Roethlisberger’s ability to stay healthy for an entire regular season will be his biggest challenge in 2017 as that’s something he hasn’t been able to do the last two seasons and only seven times during his career has he played in at least 15 regular season games.
Current Strengths: As has been the case throughout his entire career, Roethlisberger’s ability to extend plays sets him apart from most other quarterbacks in the NFL as he’s still very hard to bring down. Additionally, while his arm strength might not be as good as once was earlier in his career, he can still throw deep to every portion of the field. He’s also become a much more rhythmic passer over the course of the last three seasons and that has resulted in a 66.5 completion percentage since 2014.
Current Weaknesses: Over the course of the last two seasons, Roethlisberger hasn’t played overly great on the road. In the last 14 road games he’s played in, the Steelers are 8-6 and Roethlisberger has thrown more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (14). Roethlisberger also historically hasn’t played well in his first few games back following missing time with an injury so it’s imperative he remains healthy in 2017.
2017 Outlook: If the Steelers offensive unit can avoid injuries and suspensions this season, Roethlisberger will be poised to have one of the best years of his career and especially if he plays better on the road than he did last season. While he’ll be hard pressed to throw for 5,000 yards in 2017, such a number is still achievable nonetheless if he plays in all 16 games. 30 touchdown passes in 2017 is conceivable as is 10 interceptions.
2017 Base Salary: $12,000,000
2017 Health Status: No known ailments exiting offseason program
2016 Health Status: Missed one game with torn meniscus in left knee
2016 Regular Season Snaps Played: 921 of 1,083
2016 Stat That Matters: Led NFL with 13 deep passing touchdowns of 20 yards or more