PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is excited to suit up for his first preseason game of 2021 on Saturday, so much so that he’s been lobbying to get into a game for quite some time.
“I really wanted to try and play last week because it was on the road,” Roethlisberger said after the team’s final training camp practice session on Tuesday. “That would have been our first opportunity to play on the road in situations and circumstances like crowd noise and things like that before we go into a very hostile environment Week 1.”
That plan ran into a significant obstacle.
“Coach,” Roethlisberger explained. “I couldn’t talk him into it.”
But he’s good to go for Saturday, and to Roethlisberger, even at age 39, in his 18th NFL season, getting to play in the preseason is important — especially with a new offense and offensive coordinator.
“We’ve got a new system,” Roethlisberger said. “There’s a new coach to player communication. There’s new guys. The offense is different. He’s up in the box instead of being on the field. So there’s a lot of newness. So I think it’s beneficial to get as much time as I can under those circumstances.”
Head coach Mike Tomlin declined to divulge how much Roethlisberger and the rest of the team’s starters will play against the Detroit Lions, but if it’s up to Roethlisberger, as much as possible.
“I would love to get as many reps as I can,” he said. “It’s been how many months since I’ve actually stepped on a football field to take a hit? … With the newness of it, I definitely want to get as much time as I can.”
That’s coming after a rare full week of camp work, as well, as Roethlisberger took at least some reps in all three of the team’s practice sessions leading up to the Lions game. He usually participates physically in only about two of every three, and gets Wednesdays off during the season.
“I asked Coach if I could take as many reps as I could this week, just because it’s been a while and I wanted to kind of simulate a game week,” Roethlisberger said. “I just wanted to get as many reps as I could this week.”
That’s a contrast from the arm-conversation measures Roethlisberger had to take in 2020, and he said he feels physically, as good as he did before the injury that cost him his 2019 season.