For a team coming off an 8-8 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t really face a lot of major questions. The thing is, the biggest question they faced was an enormous one: would they have a quarterback who can not only play at a high level, but stay healthy throughout the season?
That’s because Ben Roethlisberger suffered a severe elbow injury last year, with three tendons tearing in his throwing elbow. It was a cumulative injury over a period of more than a decade that finally snapped, but it’s one that is seemingly unique within the history of NFL quarterbacks, so there wasn’t much of a foundation for speculation.
But so far, the only snaps that he has not played this season were at the end of Sunday’s blowout victory against the Cleveland Browns. He has completed 114 of 165 pass attempts for 1178 passing yards with 11 touchdowns to just one interception, with the third-lowest interception percentage in the league.
Statistically, he is doing quite well, overall, even if there are still aspects of his game that he is looking to improve, particularly in connecting on the deep ball, which did get some boost from Sunday’s game, completing all three deep pass attempts. But how is he feeling physically, about a third of the way into the season?
“There’s no setbacks, no issues”, he said. “Every once in a while I’ll bump it on the ground or get hit, and I’ll feel that, but that’s more just bumps, nothing on the surgical site. So everything’s going great, thank you”.
Shockingly, having surgery on a part of your body doesn’t suddenly make it immune to any further damage, so of course when he falls on his elbow, it’s still going to hurt (duh). But Roethlisberger claims to be experiencing no issues of any kind stemming from his previous elbow injury. That’s all that we could have hoped to hear.
Back during the offseason, he revealed that he originally suffered what was likely a minor tendon tear in his elbow early on in his Steelers career, and that essentially he simply played through that for the past decade-plus, but he knew at the beginning of the 2019 season that it felt different.
That was especially so on the day of the Seattle Seahawks game when the tendons finally tore. He said that the elbow never warmed up that day, that it felt different, that the pain was different, more widespread. And then it just snapped altogether, shortly before halftime. Or at least the last tendon snapped.
But that’s old news now, and truthfully, his elbow probably feels better than it has in years, having had surgery to repair something that had been an issue for some time. It’s like somebody living with a progressively worsening hernia and finally, years later, finally getting it taken care of. Only Roethlisberger’s injury enables him to make a whole lot of money.