Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner recently compared quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow heading into last season to a frayed rope—one that had been frayed for a long time, in fact. It was only a matter of time before it would eventually snap.
11 months ago, of course, it did snap. But they repaired it, and the team continues to believe in the possibility that that rope is stronger than it was before it snapped, a sentiment that general manager Kevin Colbert has maintained publicly going back to the Combine in February.
He spoke to reporters earlier today and was asked to elaborate on why they felt confident that Roethlisberger could actually return strong than he was. “We obviously had some information on how the surgery went. We were confident with how the rehab was going”, he said. “We were encouraged by how Ben was so positive in this whole issue”.
“The thing I kept saying is”, he continued, “we might have a better quarterback moving forward, because at his age, without one year’s work, or wear and tear on his legs, on his body, and with maybe a healthier arm coming out of this, that this guy could actually be a better quarterback than he’s been. And that’s exciting”.
Fortunately for all parties involved, virtually every step along the way, at least that conveyed in public, has been overwhelmingly positive. Roethlisberger’s throwing not only appears strong, but he is also in great physical shape, and on the surface doesn’t seem to be any worse for wear.
“To this point, it’s been great. Physically, he looks great”, Colbert said, but acknowledged that there are still some things to work out from a football perspective that simply take time. “He’s still working on some timing issues, because really, some of the younger players, he hasn’t played a lot with”.
“Chase Claypool, obviously, is a rookie, but Diontae Johnson, Ben spent part of a training camp and some preseason work and a game and a half”, Colbert continued. “But that’s not a lot. So again, Eric Ebron, brand new guy. So he’s figuring out that timing. But physically, we feel great about where he is”.
Several of the Steelers’ top targets this season have very little experience working with Roethlisberger, outside of, perhaps, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald, and James Conner, and to a lesser extent, Jaylen Samuels (assuming he makes the team) and James Washington and Ryan Switzer.
He hasn’t played at all with Claypool or Ebron, and the same with Anthony McFarland as well, of course, being a rookie. He barely worked with Johnson and Benny Snell. Deon Cain and Kerrith Whyte are unfamiliar to him on the field.
That’s what training camp is for, of course, but there is precious little time, and there is no doubt that there will still be kinks to be worked out over the course of the regular season. But as long as he plays the way Roethlisberger is known to be capable of playing, that will be more than enough.