Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed most of the 2019 season due to injury. That time that spent on the sidelines last season watching his teammates compete without him was tough on the veteran quarterback and during his Thursday interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio he tried to put into words just how tough the 2019 season was on him.
“It was tough being on the sidelines last year,” Roethlisberger said. “It was, because all of us are competitive, right? We all want to be out there. It’s what we love to do. And as a quarterback, you feel like that’s my team out there and I want to be out there leading my guys. And I want to help them and I want to do everything I can and be out there to go through the battle with them. But when you can’t do that, it’s so hard and it just tugs at you.”
While he missed competing most of last season, Roethlisbegger said he was able to channel those feelings and use them as motivation to come back in 2020 and perhaps even better than he was before his elbow injury.
“And so I think it really kind of put a little fire into me,” Roethlisberger said Thursday. “Like, no, this is not the end for me. You know, this is not how I’m going out. Like, I’m going to go bust my butt and I’m going to give it everything I have to just give myself a chance to come back and try and be better than ever. I know that sounds kind of crazy as you get older in life to get better. Yeah, your physical attributes might fall off, you might not be as fast or as big, or whatever, but you still can be as sharp because you can be mentally sharp and you can maybe hone your skills differently. So, I’ve been doing it for a long time, but I still feel like I got gas in the tank and I’m excited.”
While he was sidelined most of the 2019 season, Roethlisbeger said Thursday that he was able to get excited about the Steelers defense and the progress that unit made throughout the season with several young players being responsible for that.
“To me, that was one of the exciting things to watch this year from the sideline was that defense,” Roethlisberger said. “They were fun. Some key additions. Guys just stepping up, taking their game to another level. Man, was it fun watching those edge-rushers come off the edge. It reminded me of [James] Harrison and [LaMarr] Woodley. And it was neat to see in the back-end seeing Minkah [Fitzpatrick] and seeing T [Terrell Edmunds] and all those guys and the way that our corners were playing.”
The Steelers defense should have a very good portion of their 2019 defense back in 2020. While the team did lose defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to free agency this offseason and moved on from inside linebacker Mark Barron by cutting him, those are the only two players on that side of the football that played a considerable amount of snaps in 2019 that won’t return in 2020. Maybe that unit can be even better than the 2019 one with defensive end Stephon Tuitt back healthy and two youngsters, inside linebacker Devin Bush and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, being a bit more experienced. Throw in a healthy Roethlisberger and maybe the 2020 Steelers team can compete for the championship. Roethlisberger sure thinks that’s possible.
“And just that whole defense was so much fun to watch,” Roethlisberger said Thursday. “And so I am excited to come back because I think that they’re going to be an integral part of a potential championship run, which is what we’re all looking for.”