For the second time this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing to start quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a game after essentially getting a week off of practice. The first time was in the middle of the regular season when he was a close contact and in the Covid-19 protocol. He practiced on Saturday after not throwing during the week and had one of his best games of the season.
On this occasion, the Steelers chose to rest Roethlisberger for a regular season finale that held little meaning to their playoff standing, getting all of last week off, in preparation for starting on Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns. As with the last time, he expects the rest to pay dividends.
“In terms of the rest and the time off, I feel it a hundred percent. I mean, my legs feel a lot better. My knees feel fresher”, he told reporters earlier today. “I haven’t thrown a football, other than throwing in the house”, with his children.
“I’m going to do it more today, as a Wednesday is typically obviously is a kind of a day off, but today I’m going to do more than half of practice, I’m sure, just to kind of get back into the groove of it”, he added. “I’ve enjoyed these last couple of days to let my body, especially this time of year, kind of get back”.
Generally, Roethlisberger either does not practice on Wednesdays or goes through a light practice, a routine in which the Steelers have been for a number of years now, and is not uncommon with older quarterbacks, or generally older veterans at most positions, when at a certain point more recovery time is more valuable than more practice time. Having now gotten a week of rest, of course, he doesn’t need the extended recovery time.
Roethlisberger admitted earlier this season that he did injure his knee, slightly, in a game, but said that whatever issues that he might have in that regard were due primarily to being 38 years old at the quarterback position and to having an arthritic knee, rather than specifically due to injury.
He has said previously that his surgically repaired arm has at no point this season felt any worse than it normally would due to the amount of work that he has put into it, throwing more than 600 passes in 15 games, but it never hurts to give your arm a rest.
The Steelers were hoping to earn a first-round bye for the postseason, but that opportunity of course fell through. In part due to the fact that they had their bye week moved up while they were already in preparations for a game, they chose to rest a number of starters in the finale in the hopes that it will benefit them for the postseason.