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Zach Banner on Knee Injury: ‘I’m Going to Get Over This’

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Zach Banner will have surgery on his right knee on Friday, he announced via Twitter on Tuesday evening.

Banner was injured in the fourth quarter of the Steelers’ season opener on Monday and did not return to the game. He is believed to have suffered an ACL injury and will miss the rest of the season.

The game was Banner’s first as the Steelers’ starting right tackle, a role he won after a lengthy training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor, who will now replace Banner.

“I just want everybody to stay optimistic and I appreciate you guys’ wishes and regards from not only teammates, but the love and support of fans and friends and family,” said Banner. “Everything’s going to be OK. I’m going to get over this. I’m very excited about my recovery. I’ll come back even stronger next season. It’s just another obstacle I’ve got to get over and I’m very excited to take on that challenge.”


Earlier on Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged the effort that Banner had put into winning the job as a starting tackle and said that he won’t be defined by this injury, but by how he responds to it.

“It can be a cold game, but it is a lot like life,” Tomlin said. “We are not defined by what happens to us, we are defined by how we respond to it. Whenever unfortunate events like that occurs, we talk openly about that. it’s not that he got injured after all that he has been through and the fight he has been through to get where he is, it is about what he does moving forward and responds to it. He is a competitor, he is a professional and I expect him to smile in the face of adversity.”

Recovery from ACL surgery usually takes at least six months. The ligament connects the shin bones and thigh bones within the knee. UPMC orthopedic surgeon Dr. Freddie Fu said in 2012 that modern surgically repaired ACLs are “very similar to the pre-injury knee.”

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Steelers

Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/25/20

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It was all about wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster’s return and the Watt brothers at the final practice before the Steelers week 3 game against Houston.

Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers

Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/24/20

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While it’s odd to see referees standing out in a clip of highlights, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s plan to incorporate actual refs into practice this week happened on Thursday.

Tomlin explained he is adding refs to practice to ensure his team is more disciplined, which hopefully leads to less penalties in their game this week compared to last week.

Wide receivers James Washington, Diontae Johnson and tight end Eric Ebron run routes and catch passes in this clip.

Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers

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Ben Roethlisberger Says Form, Mechanics Can Be Better Despite Hot Start

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To hear Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tell it, he can better than what he’s shown on the field in his first two weeks since returning from elbow surgery.

He’s not happy with his footwork, he thinks he’s dropping his arm a bit and needs a more consistent release point.

The statistics, however tell another story. They say Roethlisberger has been operating at a higher level of precision than ever before. So which is it? Maybe both.

“I do feel I got a little lazy with my feet, which then, in turn, translated to a lazy arm,” Roethlisberger said. “There were some throws that I kind of dropped my elbow, if you will. I don’t want to get too technical, but it became more of a three-quarter release instead of an over the top when I didn’t need to. There are obviously times you have to change your release point. There were too many throws, I felt looking back, that I just have to get my feet working better, and that will then translate, hopefully, to the rest of the body. Then, I won’t be guiding some of the throws.”

Here’s an example from the game Roethlisberger’s form getting a little sloppy. He throws this ball flat-footed and almost all with his right side, getting less power behind it than usual and resulting in a pass that ends up behind JuJu Smith-Shuster instead of allowing him to build a head of steam toward the defenders at the line of scrimmage.

Is this a big deal here? Not really. Smith-Schuster probably couldn’t have done much better than he did at bulling over the defender, anyway. But this is also a route into the flat on the near side of the field. Over longer distances, that can make a big difference.

“I’ve gotten away with it in the past being able to not necessarily be perfect from the ground up and just letting my arm kind of make up for a lot of things, a lot of imperfections if you talk to quarterback people,” Roethlisberger said. “I feel great. I just need to get it in my mind that I can still make the throws when I’m not in the perfect position to make them.”

All of that can be true, and yet, it’s hard to argue with the results. Through two games, Roethlisberger has a 68.5 completion percentage. His career season high was 68% in 2015. In a game and a half last year, it was 56.5%.

His passer rating, even with an interception against the Broncos, is 107.1. His career season-long high came in 2o07, when he finished with a 104.1 mark. Last season before his injury, it was 66.

Some of that can be explained by a passing scheme that has take fewer deep shots down the field than it has in years past. His yards per pass attempt sits at 7.4, lower than all but four of his other 16 seasons.

Mechanical inconsistency can certainly have a greater impact on longer throws, so the Steelers’ somewhat more methodical offensive approach could be helping Roethlisberger get into the swing of things.

“Maybe some of that just comes from not playing a lot of football,” he posited. “I played two games this year. I played a game and a half last year, so really, it’s about three and a half games in two years if you think about it. It’ll come. Like I said, if I’m having these issues and we are still winning football games, that’s a plus.”

If a 2-0 record with career highs in passer rating and completion percentage is what he looks like with mechanical issues, the NFL should be very worried about what might happen if he gets into a groove.

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