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Ben Roethlisberger outlines the process to return to the Steelers off the COVID-19 List

The Pittsburgh Steelers got Ben Roethlisberger back in Week 11, but getting him back was anything but a smooth process.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers received some good news Saturday when they found out Ben Roethlisberger would be accompanying the team, albeit separately, to Los Angeles for the team’s Week 11 game vs. the Chargers.

Roethlisberger had spent the prior week on the NFL’s Reserve/COVID-19 List and most fans are curious what the process is like to be removed from the league’s protocols. Following the team’s 41-37 loss on Sunday Night Football, Roethlisberger outlined that process.

“It’s a crazy process; testing every day, lot of vitamins and minerals. Have to give a lot of credit to [Steelers Head Athletic Trainer] John Norwig and the rest of the staff. You literally just take a test every day and hope it’s negative. That’s kind of what it is. It’s a very interesting process.”

The process to leave the protocol is pretty simple. Two negative tests 24 hours apart and you are good to go, but what about the recovery process? What was that like for Roethlisberger, who was symptomatic?

“Interesting. Different. I think the MVP of the week is my wife because it was not easy for all the kids to be home, for me to be home; a grumpy husband that probably wants to be at football. I just had to be the backup substitute teacher.” Roethlisberger said.

“It was a lot of interesting time, me wearing a mask at home and trying to help with homework and still try to spend time on meetings and looking at the iPad and going over plays. It’s tough not getting practice perspectives, watching practice from behind. I know I don’t always participate in practice, but at least you’re there and you can see it firsthand. It’s different watching it on film at night. It’s definitely a different process, but we got through it.”

Roethlisberger talked about how he came to self-report symptoms prior to the Week 10 game vs. the Detroit Lions, and when he started to feel better enough where he knew he could return to the team.

“It was Saturday night.” Roethlisberger recalled last week. “I remember I got a lot of credit for self-reporting. I really just called our trainer, John Norwig, and told him I wasn’t feeling well and that I didn’t think I should head into the team hotel because I didn’t want to get anyone sick. I just assumed I had a little bug. He said, ‘Ben, we’ve got to test you because if you have any kind of symptoms and you don’t get tested, it’s trouble,’ or whatever it is. So, I drove down and got tested, and still thought it was going to be nothing. I found out when I got home that I was positive for COVID[-19].

“That night was the worst night. Fever, not feeling well. By Sunday, I started to feel better. Then, by Monday, I knew I felt fine physically, but just because you feel fine, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to pass the test. Credit to the doctors and staff for helping get me out here.”

Being away from the team means more than just missing live repetitions in practice. It also means you aren’t able to access the workout facility the team utilizes. Roethlisberger stayed active by working out with his trainer once he had his first negative test result.

“I threw on Friday with my trainer, just after we had one negative test.” Roethlisberger said. “I was hoping that there was a chance, so I threw with him outside. Then, I forgot what they call it, but I did like a three-day ramp up where you do some cardio at home, at my home gym. I did some cardio over the last three days.”

Navigating these waters for any NFL player has to be difficult, but especially for a starting quarterback. Not having those live, in-game repetitions can be the difference between a win and a loss. Roethlisberger’s performance vs. the Chargers didn’t look like he hadn’t practiced since before the Detroit game in Week 10, but as if he hadn’t missed any time at all.

With Roethlisberger’s COVID-19 situation in the rear view mirror, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick currently in the midst of his own situation, the hope is the Steelers don’t have any lingering cases pop up which can further hamper an already depleted roster.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12 of the 2021 regular season.