There have been a lot of jokes made about Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as of late, especially when it comes to his ability to still connect via deep passes down the field. This after the 2020 season that included him completing at just a 30 percent rate. On Tuesday during a Zoom call, reporters asked Roethlisberger about his deep ball ability last season and if it had anything to do with the surgery he had on his elbow in 2019.
“Well, I was going to say, you know I had total reconstruction on my elbow,” Roethlisberger said after Tuesday’s OTA practice. “It might have something to do with it. But no excuses.”
Roethlisberger, who returned to action in 2020 after missing all but six quarters of play in 2019 due to his elbow injury in Week 2 that required season-ending surgery, said on Tuesday that he wants to wait a while before he compares how his arm is in 2021 to how it was in 2020.
“My arm feels great though,” Roethlisberger said. “I’d like to wait to answer that question until we get into more of this season and see how it feels. Right now, it feels really good. I mean, you know, my arm was healed, obviously. I played. It was healthy, but I think anybody that has a big surgery, it almost takes like that year. That first year back, it’s still your back, but are you really back and feeling great? So, that’s why I want to reserve to answer that question until we get into this season a little bit to really let you know how my arm feels even compared to last year.”
That obviously makes sense for Roethlisberger to want to do that. In the meantime, however, there will continue to be speculation about the veteran quarterback’s deep passing ability. Especially since it wasn’t all that great on the connectivity part even before his elbow injury in 2019.
Roethlisberger did note on Tuesday that he is back to the same offseason routine this year that he used prior to his elbow injury in 2019.
“Yeah, last year I threw thousands of balls in the offseason because we were rehabbing,” Roethlisberger said. “And so, this year it’s gone back to just the normal routine of throwing here [at OTAs], doing a little bit kind of at home with the trainer. But mostly, taking time off. I took a lot of time off from throwing this offseason. So, I hope and think, and really believe that it will pay dividends this year.”
While Roethlisberger will have a new offensive coordinator in 2021 in the form of Matt Canada, who was the team’s quarterback’s coach in 2020, his group of receivers should be the same. Back again are JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dionate Johnson, Chase Claypool and James Washington at the top four on the depth chart. We should know early during the 2021 regular season how Roethlisberger’s arm is. And more importantly, if he’ll be able to bounce back in the deep pass connectivity department.