When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns square off for the third time, and second in back-to-back weeks, Sunday night, it will be the first time Ben Roethlisberger and other captains have suited up since their dramatic comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16.
Roethlisberger, along with T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Maurkice Pouncey, was given the week off in Week 17, a game which was essentially meaningless for the Steelers, and the four players didn’t even travel with the team to Cleveland.
Of course, the fan base immediately is concerned with Roethlisberger coming out of the gates rusty when it matters most, but offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner doesn’t see the week off as being a negative impact on Roethlisberger leading into the postseason.
“He’s got a lot of energy right now.” Fichtner said. “He’s running around and he’s wanting to be in meetings and talking about ball and talking about, “Hey, we can do this, we can do that.” I’m like, “Hey, we can’t do too much. There are only about 75 plays in a game. We can come up with 200 calls, but I don’t know if that’s the prudent thing to do.”
“He’s been really into it. I think that from a freshness standpoint, we didn’t just say Wednesday was off like normal. He took a Wednesday practice. He didn’t do everything in every period but took what was necessary. And I think he walked out of the practice feeling very good about where he was at.”
Yes, you read that correctly. Ben Roethlisberger practiced on a Wednesday. That sound you hear is a large contingent of the fan base lifting their hands in praise saying, “Hallelujah!” All kidding aside, the week off had to feel great for Roethlisberger. Leading up to the Week 16 game, the Steelers on a three game losing streak, Roethlisberger talked about how no one is 100%, and at this stage of the season the body just hurts.
A week off can work wonders, even for professional athletes, and Roethlisberger said on Wednesday he feels a lot better heading into the playoffs.
“In terms of the rest and the time off, I feel it 100%.” Roethlisberger said. “My legs feel a lot better. My knees feel fresher. I haven’t thrown a football other than throwing it in the house with the kids. I am going to do more today as Wednesday is typically a day off. Today I am going to do more than half of practice just to get back in the groove of it. I have enjoyed these last couple of days just to get my body, especially this time of year, get back.”
The hope for the Steelers, and their fans, is this rest will equate to postseason success. The Steelers haven’t won a playoff game since 2016, and this is their first postseason appearance since their 2017 AFC Divisional round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Will they be able to beat the Browns and reach the Divisional round again? Only time will tell, but the rest Roethlisberger and others received last week shouldn’t be a factor.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Browns this Sunday night at Heinz Field.