INDIANAPOLIS — While much of the football world frets about whether Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be able to return to his All-Pro form after season-ending elbow surgery in 2019, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is wondering about something else.
He’s wondering if Roethlisberger can be even better than he was before the injury.
Colbert feels that the time off from the game and lack of wear and tear over the nine months could be beneficial for Roethlisberger come September, and he also wonders if the injury wasn’t precipitated by a period of less than full performance from Roethlisberger’s right arm.
“He didn’t play a season, so physically, he should be better,” Colbert said while speaking with local reporters at the NFL Combine. “The arm, who knows? His arm might be stronger coming out of the surgery. You never know the extent of an injury. When it happens, it happens, but how long was it bothering him without him evening knowing it?”
The Steelers have not disclosed the nature of the surgical procedure that Roethlisberger underwent in September. Baseball pitchers that undergo Tommy John surgery on their throwing elbow do sometimes see an increase in velocity after the surgery, so Colbert’s idea is not without merit.
He’s also not concerned about the conditioning level of his 37-year old quarterback. Roethlisberger took some criticism in the national media for his apparent level of fitness in a video released by the team over the week of him resuming throwing a football.
“His physical shape is fine,” Colbert said. “I never worry about a player’s physical appearance in the offseason.”
Colbert did not give a specific date for when he feels Roethlisberger will be able to return to the football field and said the Steelers’ focus is on the start of the season and not a particular portion of the offseason workouts.
“We have to make sure that he is there for September,” Colbert said. “I think that’s something that the docs will figure out. Everyone understands that it’s game days that are most important, but of course participating in OTAs or whatever he can will be part of his ability to have a great season.”
Colbert did admit that rust and adjusting to new teammates will be factors for Roethlisberger to overcome, but on the whole, feels positive about his quarterback’s prognosis for 2020.
“I’m encouraged an excited about where he can go.”