Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert spoke to the media on Tuesday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. To no one’s surprise, The first several questions he faced had to do with Ben Roethlisberger‘s recovery from his elbow surgery which ended his season last September.
“He posted that video which was very encouraging,” Colbert stated in regards to the video released over the weekend of Roethlisberger throwing a football. “But what we reemphasized is we loved the progress but we don’t play until September. So we’ll continue to follow the doctors and we’ll continue to encourage Ben. But the thing that’s exciting about it is we might have a better Ben Roethlisberger coming out of the surgery. He sat for this year and didn’t have the wear and tear on his body for a year. Sure, he had a significant surgery but we’re optimistic he might be better.”
The point Colbert brought up has been something speculated by others who see the Roethlisberger situation as “glass half full.” Not having to take a hit since September, Roethlisberger’s body could have had some significant recovery as well as the surgery fixing a problem which may have been lingering for quite some time. As for the timeline for Roethlisberger‘s return, Colbert reminded everyone the ultimate goal is for Ben to play at the beginning of the 2020 season.
“The timeline is always going to be we want Ben to be ready for game number one whenever that is. Again, we’ll follow the doctor‘s orders to a ‘T’.”
Colbert also stated it is important to make sure that Roethlisberger is not pushing himself too far in order to return which will ultimately hinder his rehabilitation.
“I think with a guy like Ben you have to be careful to hold him back a little bit if he maybe progresses a little bit too aggressively because we have to make sure that he’s there for September or whenever the first game is.”
Although the goal is for Roethlisberger to be under center in Week 1 of the 2020 season, Colbert did acknowledge that any work he can get with the team in the off-season is only going to make for better results this coming year.
“Everybody understands it’s game days that are most important,” Colbert reiterated. “But participating in mini camp, OTA‘s, whatever he can, will be part of his ability to have a great season. But again, I’m not worried about the surgery because it might be a better result.”
While the Steelers are optimistic Roethlisberger can return to form if not even better, they must also acknowledge that there is a potential Roethlisberger may never get back to where he was prior to the injury.
“I think the possibility is real that he could be a better football player coming out of this surgery, just as much as he might be a more regressed football player. So I think we have to give that the nod. So again, I’m encouraged and excited where he can go.”
The overwhelming theme to all of Colbert’s statements at the combine in regards to Ben Roethlisberger was that of optimism. While understanding nothing is certain in the NFL, the Steelers continue to hope Roethlisberger will be a renewed player for 2020.
“Again, I think it’s unique to each and every player because each player’s anatomy is different, each player’s surgery different, each players ability— mentally— to get through something is different. So I think in all those regards we are very optimistic that this could be a better Ben Roethlisberger.”