The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: Will Ben Roethlisberger play a single snap during the preseason?
I think most of us know the answer to this, or at least what we think will be the answer, but it’s worth posing anyway. In a season in which a new offense is being installed, will Ben Roethlisberger play a single snap during the exhibition periods?
It’s unlikely, I think. It’s true that he has at least played in the third preseason game for a drive or two in the recent past. But he’s at the end of his career at this point, and they know they have to save everything they can get out of him, even if this is the most significant offseason change in a very long time. The offensive line is virtually completely different from a year ago, as well, and that takes repetition, not to mention the line’s philosophy changing under Adrian Klemm, as well. Plus, getting used to a new running back on top of that.
But, hey, Tom Brady didn’t have a preseason going to an entirely new team last year, and things worked out there. They went to and won the Super Bowl, with Roethlisberger’s former offensive coordinator as head coach and his former backup as offensive coordinator.
Obviously, the number one priority is getting Roethlisberger into the regular season healthy. And there are three other quarterbacks who need preseason reps. They probably want to get a long look at Dwayne Haskins. But is it possible that Big Ben sees even a single drive, in the third preseason game? He did play 20 snaps in 2019, and 25 in 2018, so it’s certainly not impossible.