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Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: “I’m throwing without pain for the first time in years”

The Pittsburgh Steelers are banking on Ben Roethlisberger to be back, and maybe better than ever. Something the franchise quarterback isn’t ruling out.

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers and their vast fan base were set abuzz just about one month ago when the Steelers released a video of Ben Roethlisberger throwing a football.

Just one pass.

One throw.

Didn’t matter.

The fan base was pumped to see No. 7, the man who they hope can bring them Super Bowl No. 7, back to throwing the ball around the gridiron again. But since that video was published on every social media platform, there hasn’t been any news of Roethlisberger’s recovery/rehabilitation.

Sure, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported things were on schedule, and General Manager Kevin Colbert said Roethlisberger might be better than he was before, but he didn’t elaborate on that claim other than Roethlisberger having a year to sit and rest.

On Friday, Roethlisberger spoke with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook and talked about his recovery, how he is throwing without pain for the first time in years and even how he feels the pressure of his return.

“I have no doubts I’m going to be able to come back and play well — none,” Roethlisberger told Cook. “I have complete confidence in that. I’m throwing without pain for the first time in years. Some games, I would have a little pain. Some games, I would have a lot of pain. But in the New England game and the Seattle game [last season], it got to be too much. To be able to throw without pain now? That feels nice. That’s a nice feeling. I know I’m not getting any younger, but I feel younger because I don’t have any pain.”

It was reported after Week 2, the game vs. the Seattle Seahawks where Roethlisberger’s elbow finally gave out, he had been dealing with the injury for a while. Roethlisberger’s comments validate those reports and show his arm could indeed feel, and be, better upon his return.

But let’s be honest, the Steelers have put all their eggs in the Roethlisberger basket. Think that has some pressure attached to it? Absolutely.

“There’s pressure, but I put more pressure on myself,” Roethlisberger said Thursday. “As much as the fans and my teammates want me out there, I want to be out there even more. I saw last season what this team is capable of doing. I’m pushing myself to come back better than ever.”

I’m assuming when he talks about “this team” he is referencing one of the top defenses in the league. For years now the offense has been the strength, and the defense the Achilles heel. But with Roethlisberger back, and healthy, the team could be more complete than they have in the past 10 seasons.

Was “the pass” which occurred on February 21st, the first time he had thrown a football?

“I had thrown a Nerf ball a little bit before that to my kids in the living room and my arm felt pretty good. I knew it was going to be OK.

“But still, it felt so neat to throw a football. It had been a long time. I guess it was like riding a bike a little bit. You get back on and go. It’s not like it had been a year. It has been months. I never throw much in the offseason, anyway, so I looked at the time I had off like it was my offseason.”

What does Roethlisberger’s throwing routine look like now that he is cleared to begin the process of getting his arm back, and strong enough for a full NFL season?

“Right now, it’s about 40 throws a day and about 20 yards. I throw from my knees and I throw flat-footed. It’s mainly just about getting my spin back.

“I’ll gradually ramp up the number of days and the throws and the distance and the velocity. I really feel like I could let it rip right now if I had to, but what’s the point? There’s no need for me to rush it. Our goal was for me to be 80, 90, 100% by OTAs and minicamp. Now that it looks like those things are going to be canceled [because of the COVID-19 pandemic], I can take my time a little more.”

This news couldn’t be better for the Steelers and their fans. There has always been some hesitation around Roethlisberger’s recovery and return, but for him to be this open about what he is doing, how the injury itself hindered him and his progress in his rehabilitation is music to the ears of Steelers Nation.

That’s right, it seems as if No. 7 is on the fast track to being back, and maybe better than ever, when he returns. Let’s hope the rest of the team follows suit and the Steelers make it back to the promised land.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the rest of NFL Free Agency, and the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.