The Pittsburgh Steelers obviously won’t have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns and considering how he’s played against the team’s AFC North division foe throughout his career, and especially in their home stadium, you must know he hates missing this contest. He confirmed as much on Tuesday.
“AFC North football is always fun,” Roethlisberger said, according to Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Cleveland. A short week. I’m jealous of the guys going over there.”
While Roethlisberger won’t be on the field playing Thursday night for the Steelers, perhaps he’ll be on the sideline during that contest attempting to help young quarterback Mason Rudolph get through his first career start against the Browns. He told Cook that he let Rudolph know more than once during the team’s Sunday home game against the Los Angeles Rams that he’s willing to help him with anything should he need it.
Roethlisberger also recently gave Cook a progress report on Rudolph and told the reporter he’s proud of how his replacement has played so far this season.
“I think Mason is doing great,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s doing some really good things. It doesn’t matter what comes his way. He stays in the pocket when he needs to. He makes plays when he needs to. I think he’s playing awesome.”
As for Roethlisberger’s surgical repaired elbow, the quarterback indicated to Cook that his rehab from the injury is on course and that expectations still are for him to return to next season and to continue to play at a high level. That said, Roethlisberger couldn’t yet provide Cook a firm timetable regarding when exactly he would be able to resume practicing again.
“OTAs. Minicamp. Somewhere in there,” Roethlisberger said. “Just taking it nice and slow, doctors’ orders. It’s all about what they say.”
For now, Roethlisberger will essentially continue to serve the Steelers in a quasi-coaching capacity and that means mainly helping Rudolph and the other quarterback on the roster any way that he can.
The main reason why Roethlisberger might miss playing against the Browns in Cleveland more than any other team or in any other city is because they bypassed their home state product up in the 2004 NFL Draft in lieu of selecting tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. sixth overall.
At the time, the Browns had veteran quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Kelly Holcomb and they were coming off of a 5-11 season. Additionally, the Browns went on to select quarterback Luke McCown in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
McCown wound up starting four games for the Browns during his rookie season and Cleveland lost all four. By Week 1 of the 2015 NFL regular season, Garcia, Holcomb and McCown were no longer with the Browns.
Since Roethlisberger was drafted by the Steelers in 2004, he has made the Browns pay for bypassing him in lieu of Winslow. In total, Pittsburgh is 27-3-1 against the Browns since drafting Roethlisberger and while all three of those losses and the tie where games played in Cleveland, Roethlisberger didn’t play in one of them.
In the 14 games that Roethlisberger has played against the Browns in Cleveland he is 11-2-1 and he threw for 3,233 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in those contests. His 11 wins in Cleveland are more than any of the 30 quarterbacks the Browns have had at home start since the franchise came back into the NFL in 1999.
While Roethlisberger likely hasn’t played his last game against the Browns in Cleveland, you know he certainly wishes he was playing against them Thursday night just the same.