Pittsburgh Steelers head coach didn’t hem and haw last week when he was asked about whether or not Ben Roethlisberger would play in the team’s third preseason game. He gave a short and concise answer to the affirmative. And the 39-year-old quarterback is looking forward to it.
“Yes, yes, and yes”, he told reporters after today’s practice when asked if he likes to play, needs to play, wants to play. “I would love to get as many reps as I can. It’s been how many months since I’ve actually stepped on the football field to take a hit, or, I know it’s preseason, but just meaningful reps? With the newness of it, I’d definitely like to get as much as I can”.
Roethlisberger has typically only played in the third preseason game, and playing time has varied between about 15 snaps to around 25, give or take a few. He wasn’t sure how much he would play this go-around. “It’s probably a progressive type of answer. I don’t know”, he said.
“I guess it depends on how we’re doing, how it feels”, he added. “I really wanted to try and play last week, because it was on the road, and that was our first opportunity to play on the road with circumstances like crowd noise and things like that before we go into a very hostile environment week one. But, Coach, I couldn’t talk him into it”.
Technically, this is the second preseason game, as the Hall of Fame game is not considered a preseason ‘week’. The Steelers’ third preseason game against the Carolina Panthers will take place on the road. Is it possible that Tomlin allows him to play in that one, as well, or will they use it as a typical fourth preseason game?
It’s worth keeping in mind that the preseason, after being shortened by one week, retained the same start time, so there is an extra week between the end of the preseason schedule and the start of the regular season. And you don’t want your starters to be on the bench too long, if you intend for them to play in the preseason at all.
The Steelers have a new offensive coordinator this year in Matt Canada, who replaces Randy Fichtner after three seasons in the job. While he has made some adjustments in what they want to do, and in their verbiage, the in-game play-calling relationship is certainly something worth having cultivated before getting into a meaningful game.