Head coach Mike Tomlin is no dummy. He knows where success lies, and it is in the right arm of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. This is why he is putting Roethlisberger through the progression to get him ready for Week 1 in Washington.
Week 1 of the Preseason: Roethlisberger wears baseball hat, casual clothes and a headset.
Week 2 of the Preseason: Roethlisberger suits up, but ditches the shoulder pads for a headset for the game.
So, what will Week 3 have in store for the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise quarterback? Mike Tomlin announced all healthy players are going to play in the upcoming game, but should he play Ben Roethlisberger? Roethlisberger certainly wants to play.
"I feel like I could go into the first regular season game and do it, but I'd like to be out there just because it's a different speed," Roethlisberger told Dustin Dopirak of DKPittsburghSports.com. "I know my line doesn't want to hear this, but I wouldn't even mind getting hit once. Maybe after the ball is gone, just a little tap from a defensive guy."
Some would suggest getting the quarterback reps with some new offensive weapons is key. After all, Roethlisberger and Sammie Coates have only one game actual NFL contest together, Eli Rogers has zero games with the quarterback and Markus Wheaton has been banged up all preseason.
Now, we know Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are on a different level when it comes to chemistry, but is it that important to get on-field reps?
"Hopefully it's good for all of us," Roethlisberger said. "For me to understand them and them to understand me, how I work. Some of the new guys that either haven't been on the field with me or haven't been around to know how I communicate and how I play. Even for the linemen, just to get out there with everybody."
All valid points, but what I keep saying in the back of my mind is simple. Is the risk worth the reward?
After watching Landry Jones light up the opponent's scoreboard in Week 2 of the preseason, it really tells me all I need to know about the team at the quarterback position. In other words, I've seen enough to make this an easy decision.
I wouldn't play Roethlisberger at all in the preseason.
Sure, Ben could step under center and lead a triumphant, and meaningless, touchdown drive to appease the masses who are about to hit the panic button on the team's offense, but, like Landry Jones had happen in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions, what if an offensive lineman falls on Roethlisberger's ankle and he is lost for the early portions of the season?
Nope, not worth it.
When faced with these types of decisions, a coach should simply ask one question, "What is there to gain, and what is there to lose?" For the majority of NFL players on 90-man rosters, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Breaking through the line and lighting up an opponent could be your ticket to a roster spot. But with a veteran like Roethlisberger, what is there to gain?
Do you really think Roethlisberger will be that rusty and out of sorts he won't be able to manage the offense? They do practice almost every day, you know.
Do you really think risking your season for a meaningless game might seem a bit off, right? Well, you do remember those Landry Jones 4 INTs in the first half vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, right?
Mike Tomlin said after practice Monday anyone who is healthy will play, which likely means Roethlisberger will get his wish against the New Orleans Saints in the 3rd preseason game. You know, the one folks dub "the final dress rehearsal". Although we can't "live in our fears" it seems like a different topic to thrust yourself into those fears unnecessarily.
Needless to say, I will be watching while holding my breath while watching Friday night.