Ben Roethlisberger joked he wished there was a preseason this year, an unusual comment for most nearly 40 year old, future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. But even without those exhibition games, his point was well-taken and reflected in a recent NFL.com article listing the players who have the most work to do before the season begins.
Roethlisberger was one of 13 players on author Gregg Rosenthal’s list. Explaining what he has to do before the opener against the Giants, Rosenthal wrote:
“The history of quarterbacks over 35 years old missing all (or most) of a season before returning as a starter comes down to Vinny Testaverde and … that’s it. Svelte Ben is a unique talent in a passer-friendly era, but the precedent for his return from such a serious injury at age 38 is non-existent. If he gets through August with puff pieces still flowing, then optimism is warranted. But there’s a big difference between spinning passes for social media hype videos and surviving an NFL training camp, much less a season.”
Not only is Roethlisberger in rare company for QBs his age coming off season-ending surgery, very few suffered the specific injury he’s coming off of. Three torn flexor tendons, an uncommon ailment for QBs, especially to the degree Roethlisberger suffered. Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana were two who had similar diagnosis and neither were the same post-injury (medicine has come a long way though).
As Rosenthal notes, while Roethlisberger and the team have painted a rosy picture of his rehab, the full test begins now. Things still seem good on that front, Roethlisberger’s been photographed throwing nearly every day of camp, suggesting he isn’t dealing with any abnormal or alarming pain and soreness, but no one knows how he’s going to make it through a full regular season. Even on a recent podcast with Dr. Melanie Friedlander, she pointed out there’s an 11% chance of Roethlisberger re-rupturing those tendons.
The bottom line is while Roethlisberger has checked important boxes so far, he still has a ways to go.
Other “prove it” players on the list included QB Tom Brady adjusting to a new system and team and a slew of rookies, including QBs Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa.