Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network was present at the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp practice on Tuesday and apparently he had the opportunity to speak to general manager Kevin Colbert as part of a one-on-one interview.
In his press conference earlier on Tuesday, Colbert told the media that he’s just worried about the 2021 season in regards to the future of veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is now in his 18th season. When Colbert spoke with Rapoport, however, he made it clear that he’s “extremely comfortable” with Roethlisberger being the Steelers’ quarterback in 2021. He also made it clear again where the blame for the collapse the 2020 team needs to be placed.
“Last year, coming off that surgery, nobody knew, really. I didn’t see his arm deteriorate as the season went on. We deteriorated as a team. We just weren’t as good,” Colbert told Rapoport. “To a man, nobody performed like they we were earlier in the season. I think anybody that denies that is not living in reality. We deteriorated, all of us. I’m encouraged by his wanting to be here, the things he did contractually to be here, not only to make himself available but to help put a team around him under those circumstances. Physically, I’m extremely comfortable with where he is but his mindset and doing what he did to help himself, help us and help his teammates, I think is huge.”
Did Roethlisberger’s arm really deteriorate late last season like many have suggested was the case? Only he knows for sure. That said, Roethlisberger did make plenty of late-season deep throws that looked fine in 2020 in addition to throwing for over 500 yards against the Cleveland Browns in the team’s Super Wild Card Game loss.
Several days ago, Roethlisberger had a one-on-one interview with Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated and during it he said that he feels significantly better this year during training camp than he did a year ago with it being his second offseason of recovery from major elbow surgery in 2019.
“I feel great,” Roethlisberger told Breer. “You go two years ago, only playing a couple games, having elbow surgery, last year’s your first year back from a major surgery. I think if you ask anybody that’s had a major surgery, their first year back, no matter how far removed from it, it’s always a re-figure out, and getting to a comfort level with that part of your body. For me to feel more back to normal, I’m excited for that.”
“It’s always interesting, because when asked last year how I felt, I would tell you I felt great. But then, one year removed, I look back on it, and I’m like, ‘Man, maybe I wasn’t as good as I feel now.’”
The Steelers, not surprisingly, have Roethlisberger on his usual training camp routine of one full day followed by a half a day and then a day off. The Steelers quarterback, however, was excused from the teams Tuesday practice but is expected to be back practicing again at Heinz Field on Wednesday.