Goal #1 for Ben Roethlisberger this summer? Prove his surgically repaired elbow was good as new.
Goal #2? Build up chemistry with all the new weapons at his disposal.
Roethlisberger joined Sirius’ Movin’ The Chains, hosted by Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller, for a great interview that talked about his surgery, recovery, and where he’s at now. He discussed the difficulty of the offseason beyond just his rehab but attempting to get a feel for the new players he’ll be throwing to in 2020.
“And with the offseason we’ve had, it’s been unique, right?” he told the show. “Typically you get mini-camps, OTAs, things like that. So not having those was difficult too, which is why we organized some of those things on the side to get together as much as we could just to get to know each other.”
Roethlisberger got a good chunk of the team, including most if not all of the skill players, to work out at Robert Morris University back in June. It wasn’t much, guys throwing on air, but a nice introduction to the group before the team reported for training camp in late July.
There are brand new faces like 2nd round pick Chase Claypool and tight end Eric Ebron, signed in free agency this winter. But even returning faces have lots of catching up to do with Big Ben.
“I just had a talk with Diontae a little bit ago that, yeah, this is his second year, but he and I don’t really have any chemistry. We’ve never really played together. And so there’s still a lot of learning and trust that has to come from both sides when it comes to his play on the field. Because he is extremely talented and I’m excited to get out there with him. We just don’t know each other well enough yet.”
Combine training camp, preseason, and regular season a year ago and Johnson caught only *seven* passes from Roethlisberger. He’s essentially a rookie to Ben. Playing the all-important X receiver spot, being on the same page as his quarterback is crucial to his success. For all their issues off the field, Roethlisberger and Brown had great chemistry on the field.
Roethlisberger told the show he keeps in constant contact with his guys, almost acting like a coach after practice ends.
“We really try and put as much time as we can in the field. And then at nights, I’ll watch the film and I’ll send them clips and talk to them at night through texts and phone calls. So we just try and get as much work as we can, knowing that this is going to be a work in progress as the season unfolds.”
The good news is Roethlisberger spent most days of camp throwing, a departure from his previous full-day, half-day, off-day work. That allowed for more reps with the young and new players. Ultimately, as he said, things are a work in progress. But when there’s as much talent as the Steelers’ offense boasts, that chemistry is likely to form sooner than later. Couple that with an elite defense and Pittsburgh has serious Super Bowl aspirations.