Could Ben Roethlisberger’s passing arm be better than it was before surgery?
That’s a theory that’s been out there since Roethlisberger first went under the knife last fall. The quarterback has drawn rave reviews from his coaches and teammates through the first two weeks of the Steelers’ training camp.
But why might a 38-year-old, surgically repaired elbow be better than it was before the injury?
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert hinted during the 2020 NFL Combine that Roethlisberger may have had a nagging injury that was also corrected by the surgery, and Roethlisberger confirmed that during the first episode of his documentary Bigger Than Ben, which was released on Wednesday.
He said he suffered a minor tear of one of his elbow flexor tendons way back in his rookie season, and it’s something that has caused him minor pain and soreness throughout his career.
Now, that pain is gone.
“For the last couple of years, we’ve gone through the same routine, with a full day and then a half day off,” Roethlisberger said Thursday. “I even went three days in a row last week. It’s been feeling really good.”
While Roethlisberger did not undergo Tommy John surgery, has had been widely speculated, baseball pitchers that undergo that procedure also generally see an uptick in velocity after they return to the mound on a surgically repaired ligament. He said he’s seen a little results in training camp that could lend some credence to the theory.
“I think I feel really good making some of the deeper, down the field throws,” Roethlisberger said. “One of the practices, I think last week, I wasn’t able to step into it and I threw a go ball down the sideline. It felt like when it left my hand, it was going to be short, and it ended up making it there in stride. I was pleasantly surprised with how my arm strength has come back, maybe a little better than it was before.”
Steelers Injury Updates: DL Chris Wormley to Have MRI on Knee; Hilton, Watt to Return to Practice
The Steelers will be without a number of players during the early portion of the week, but head coach Mike Tomlin did not rule anyone out entirely for this Sunday’s visit to the Baltimore Ravens.
Defensive lineman Chris Wormley seems to have the most significant ailment. He’s scheduled to undergo an MRI on his knee to evaluate the injury he suffered against the Tennessee Titans.
Safety Jordan Dangerfield injured his quad against the Titans and Tomlin expects him to be limited in practice during the early part of the week.
Both Steelers that missed the trip to Tennessee are scheduled to return to practice this week, as fullback Derek Watt (hamstring strain) and Nickel cornerback Mike Hilton (shoulder) are both expected to get back to work.
Linebacker Robert Spillane (shoulder) and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (ankle bruise) are both expected to be able to play this week, though it sounds as if a number of Steelers players may not participate in the early week tune-up sessions.
“Bumps and bruises along the way may limit a guy or two along the way, a Wednesday practice, but we don’t worry too much about that,” Tomlin said. “We’re excited about some of the younger guys getting a chance to work.”
Running back Trey Edmunds was elevated from the practice squad place of Watt for special teams and defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux played fullback in heavy offensive sets. Cam Sutton filled in for a season-high snap count, with Justin Layne replacing Sutton in the Dime package.
Mondeaux also helped replace Wormley on the defensive line while he left with injury and if Wormley is unable to dress on Sunday, Isaiah Buggs would likely work back into the rotation.
Dangerfield is another important special teams contributor and Edmunds could once again be called upon to replace him if he’s out and Watt returns.
Steelers WR Diontae Johnson Has Ankle Bruise, Says He Won’t Miss Playing Time
Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson said that he has an ankle bruise and should not miss any playing time after he left the Steelers’ game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in the fourth quarter.
Johnson left the game after competing a crucial first down as the Steelers were looking to seal the game offensively, but after he left, Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception, and the Steelers had to sweat out a long Stephen Gostkowski field goal before coming away with the win.
Johnson was crucial to the winning effort, as he scored two touchdowns and led the Steelers with 15 targets, which he turned into nine catches for 80 yards.
He has dealt with several injury issues this season. Johnson suffered a back injury against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5 and missed the Steelers’ Week 6 game against the Cleveland Browns, but was able to return to practice in the week leading up to the Titans game. He has also dealt with a nagging toe issue throughout the 2020 season.
Through five games played, Johnson has 24 catches for 227 and three touchdowns.
Steelers WR Diontae Johnson Leaves Game vs. Titans in 4th Quarter
Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson left his team’s Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans with an injury on Sunday afternoon.
Johnson was injured while picking up a critical first down late in fourth quarter.
He left the game after making nine catches on 15 targets for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnson suffered a back injury against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5 and missed the Steelers’ Week 6 game against the Cleveland Browns, but was able to return to practice in the week leading up to the Titans game. In his first four games, Johnson had 15 catches for 147 and one touchdown.
He has also dealt with a nagging toe issue throughout the 2020 season.