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2020 Offseason Questions: Could We Really See A ‘Better’ Ben Roethlisberger Post-Surgery?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Could we really see a ‘better’ Ben Roethlisberger as he returns from elbow surgery?

Understandably, the national highlight of Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert’s press conference yesterday was the biggest story the team is facing, which is whether or not their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, would return to play in 2020 and be able to do so at a high level.

Early in his 16th season, the two-time Super Bowl champion suffered an elbow injury that would put him on injured reserve and would require surgery. It seemingly was an injury of build-up rather than something that was sudden.

As we know, he recently was cleared to begin throwing footballs for the first time since the injury occurred, which is a significant development, and it has been reported that he could be about three months away from receiving ‘total clearance’.

Still, that’s a far cry from the suggestion that Roethlisberger can be a better player now than he was before the injury. Not that there is no precedent. Peyton Manning, for example, came back from neck surgery to have one of the great statistical seasons in NFL history.

Roethlisberger’s sample size in 2019 was really too small to compare to, and was likely influenced by the cumulative wear and tear that ultimately led to his elbow needing surgery. I’m not sure if that is what Colbert was referring to, or if he was speaking more generally.

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