It only took moments after head coach Mike Tomlin stated Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was feeling pain in his right knee - the same joint which was surgically cleaned this summer - before many who follow the team began pointing fingers at 'the same old Ben'.
While Roethlisberger wasn't the one to make the proclamation, he was the one left to defend it on his own. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette caught up with Roethlisberger on the first working day of training camp, and asked him about the knee in question.
Ben Roethlisberger just told me his right knee is fine, although he did not want to dispute Mike Tomlin's assessment Friday.— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) July 27, 2013
While Roethlisberger's statement still seems to dispute his coach's report, there was little chance of escaping interrogation over the issue once Tomlin's original diagnosis was made public through a press conference.
However, as Tomlin did point out at the time of the announcement, the team was not concerned over his long-term health. The discomfort was reportedly felt during team conditioning tests. As Tomlin pointed out, his quarterback should not be running like that in game situations. Roethlisberger claimed to feel fine during his visit to London last month, and seems to be just as comfortable with it now with conditioning test done and out of the way.
Maybe he is feeling some residual discomfort as this is probably the hardest the surgically repaired knee has been pushed since the procedure. If anyone felt there were any lingering dangers, surely his participation would have been brought to a screeching halt. However, Roethlisberger continues grinding on with his teammates in anticipation of what he believes could be one of his best as a professional.
Roethlisberger, 31, on his 10th season in the NFL: "I feel like this year could be one of my best."— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) July 27, 2013
Roethlisberger also predicted good things for his offense: "This offense is a new toy. I can't wait to see what's coming out of this thing."— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) July 27, 2013
In an off-season where optimism is pouring through the confluence after the team's disappointing 2012 campaign, the last thing fans want to think about is fearing another Roethlisberger health concern. However, the player doesn't seem very concerned, neither did the coach who originally passed along the information.
Once pads go on Monday and full-contact becomes a full-time job, there will plenty of opportunities to worry about real injuries taking their toll.