Mark your calendars. Just over one month from now, we should be getting some pretty big news on Ben Roethlisberger. Hopefully it’s a good one.
At his final press conference of the season, Mike Tomlin said while Roethlisberger’s rehab has been going well, he’s slated to have his next checkup in early February. That evaluation should give the team a clearer road-map to his recovery and when he’ll begin throwing again.
“I know that he’s due for an update somewhere around the 1st of February. A checkup that will be probably significant in terms of mapping out what’s next,” Tomlin told reporters. “But that’s a moving target, that date.”
Shortly after suffering his season-ending elbow injury, Roethlisberger said he hoped to begin throwing by OTAs and minicamp. Phase two of the offseason program began on April 29th last season with OTAs kicking up in late May. Roethlisberger’s checkup should tell him and the team if those plans are still realistic.
This is his first season-ending injury and uncharted territory for a soon-to-be 38 year old quarterback coming off major elbow surgery to his throwing arm. So it’s impossible to know what to expect. But all signs have been encouraging and Roethlisberger has repeatedly committed to returning next year and hopefully beyond, refuting recent reports he had doubts about his playing future.
For Tomlin and the Steelers, their approach doesn’t change. Listen to the doctors, come up with a plan based on their prognosis, and roll with the other quarterbacks in the building until Roethlisberger is fully cleared.
“Man, there’s a wide margin for error in the offseason,” Tomlin said about constructing the roster with Roethlisberger’s situation unknown. “You got a 90 man roster. It’s not going to be an issue. Us dealing with his availability or lack there of, it’s just not.”
In addition to Big Ben, the team is carrying four other QBs on the roster: Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges, Paxton Lynch, and JT Barrett. Barrett was signed to the practice square prior to Week 17 and inked a futures deal with the team yesterday. The Steelers normally only carry four QBs on their offseason roster but given the circumstances, they figure to carry an extra guy, giving them four healthy arms, until at least the spring.