As the Pittsburgh Steelers begin winding down their 2018 OTA practices, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown both continue to exercise their rights to not attend the voluntary sessions.
On Tuesday, Roethlisberger and Brown were apparently both absent for the team’s seventh on-the-field OTA practice of 2018, judging by a quote from tight end Xavier Grimble that Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reported on Twitter.
“I know they are somewhere working,” Grimble said of Roethlisberger and Brown on Tuesday. “It’d be nice to have them, but at the same time, there are guys getting hurt (out here). It would suck for one of those guys to go down.”
It certainly would indeed suck if either Roethlisberger or Brown were to get injured during OTAs and on the surface, and while some might disagree, it’s not a huge deal that both aren’t participating in the majority of this year’s practices and especially being as the offense isn’t expected to change much this year with Randy Fichtner now taking over as the team’s offensive coordinator.
After showing up for the Steelers first OTA practice of 2018, Roethlisberger hasn’t participated since. As for Brown, he attended the first two practices and hasn’t attended since. If you believe some of the reports floating around, Roethlisberger was on vacation with his family last week while Brown apparently isn’t interested in attending if his quarterback isn’t.
The absence of Roethlisberger and Brown for most of this year’s OTA practices at least results in more reps for younger players on roster such as quarterbacks Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph and wide receivers Marcus Tucker and James Washington. Some are suggesting that both Roethlisberger and Brown were urged by the coaches to not attend, but quite honestly, that does sound a bit far-fetched, in my opinion.
Regardless, whatever the reason is for Roethlisberger and Brown both missing most of this year’s OTA practices, I really don’t think it’s a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Sure, it would be nice for both to be present, but it’s each’s prerogative not to be. After all, these are voluntary in nature unlike the three minicamp practices that are scheduled for next as those are considered to be mandatory to attend.
Next week I’m sure both Roethlisberger and Brown will be asked by the media to explain their OTA absences this year even though they really shouldn’t have to. If they do partake in answering such questions, you can bet we’ll pass along what each has to say on the matter.