The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered some potentially significant injuries along the offensive line as the price to pay for last night’s victory in the opener against the New York Giants. I’m sure they’re bracing for the update, and it’s very unfortunate, especially if the worst news is confirmed, but the train has to keep rolling without them.
The only injury that could really be a show-stopper is one to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was playing his first game last night in almost a year, following an elbow injury that required surgery to reattached three tendons in his throwing elbow.
In his first live action since then, Big Ben completed 21 of 32 pass attempts for 229 yards, throwing three touchdowns, something that he has now done 50 times in his career. But equally important, he came out of the game no worse for the wear.
There was a point earlier in the game during which he took a shot while throwing a pass, his legs seemingly getting tangled up with defenders, and he came up seemingly holding his knee. When asked about it after the game, he joked, “I probably just grabbed my knee because I was moving so fast”. After that, he proceeded to scramble for 11 yards.
“I feel great right now”, he added. “Obviously adrenaline is still probably pumping, and we won the game. I’m gonna be sore tomorrow, there’s no doubt. I got some bumps and bruises. But in terms of elbow and everything else, I feel really good right now”.
There was never any point of this offseason in which we ever got even a whiff of there being a setback of any nature in Roethlisberger’s rehab from that elbow injury. It’s almost hard to believe how consistently positive his progress has been, though head coach Mike Tomlin allowed that both he and Roethlisberger feel the spiral on his passes can still be tighter.
In spite of all the immense positivity, the ultimate test was always going to be live fire, as well as an accumulation of it. Getting through an entire game without incident as far as his elbow is concerned is significant. But now he has at least 18 more games to get through if he wants to accomplish his goal at the end of the year.
Will that elbow hold up for the entire year? is it truly as good as new—or at least as good as it was in the years prior to the tendons ultimately tearing? I am optimistic that that is the case, and from a playing point of view, he overall looked sharp on his passes, with a miss here and there, which is encouraging.
There are some kinks that need to be worked out as he recovers from the long layover, but he should have gotten most of the ‘jitters’ out of his system by now. He seemed to settle down as the game progressed last night. He should only get better as time goes on.