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Step one of Ben Roethlisberger’s return to the Steelers is complete

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took a huge step on Saturday when he threw a football, presumably for the first time since suffering a season-ending elbow injury last September. There are many more important steps between now and the start of the 2020 regular season. But none of them would happen without that first one.

NFL: Preseason-Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

You might actually think step one for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was when he suffered his traumatic elbow injury midway through a Week 2 game against the Seahawks last year at Heinz Field.

But anyone can suffer an elbow injury—I do it all the time at 47 and nine months old.

OK, maybe it makes far more sense to say that step one was when Roethlisberger had surgery to repair said traumatic elbow injury, a procedure that included the reattachment of several tendons.

But anyone can have surgery—I’m sure I will have several surgeries down the road when I’m much older than 47 and nine months.

However, few people out there—including me—are ever counted on to bounce back from a traumatic injury that requires invasive surgery and lift their professional football team up to the rarefied air of championship contention.

Roethlisberger is one of those people. The team, the city, the fans, everyone who works and/or roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers is counting on him to put them all on his right elbow and carry them to a seventh Super Bowl trophy. And that’s why it was so encouraging to see a five-second video clip, posted by the Steelers themselves on Saturday, of Roethlisberger throwing a football at some gym.

That this video came just one day after Roethlisberger was supposed to get a medical update on his surgically repaired elbow was especially encouraging. Obviously, if there had been any sort of setback, there is no way No. 7 would have thrown even one football.

And Steeler Nation would have taken several steps back as it pertained to the hope it would have been allowed to cling to for the 2020 season.

With no Ben, there would be no hope for 2020—at least not for doing anything more than contending for the last wildcard spot once again.

If you watched the video—and it’s safe to assume everyone who has a stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers, whether it be financially or emotionally, took at least one quick glance at that quick clip—you saw an about-to-be 38-year old quarterback who looked a bit out of shape, a lot out of razors and understandably cautious with his throwing motion.

I think all of that was to be expected—even the razor part if you’ve been paying attention to Street Clothes Ben since the end of the 2019 season.

I really don’t care about the razor part of the equation. And the out of shape part is one that he hopefully started working to correct the second his post-surgical elbow apparatus was removed some time after the season.

As for the cautious throwing part? That’s the next step in the equation. Will Roethlisberger’s surgically repaired elbow ever be strong enough to get him back to being close to the elite passer he was in previous years?

We won’t begin to find out the answer to that question until perhaps the start of OTAs. If he takes that step without stumbling, then it’s on to mini-camp and then training camp, where he’ll likely get tested with enough reps to leave little doubt.

If Roethlisberger can step into the regular season as the Steelers fully-functioning starting quarterback, I believe a championship run is quite possible.

There are many steps for Roethlisberger to take between now and Week 1 of the 2020 regular season.

But Big Ben threw a football on Saturday, and that was a giant first step.