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Was the late season “worn down” Ben Roethlisberger a 2020 thing, or a sign of things to come?

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback admitted he was “worn down” at the end of last season, should fans expect different in 2021?

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were the last remaining undefeated team in 2020 as they marched to an 11-0 start to the season. National pundits everywhere called them things like, “The worst undefeated team in recent memory.” They cited the team’s weak schedule and luck at times as a reason why they remained perfect.

Fans of the black and gold know how the wheels fell off down the stretch, and a large part of those failures were on Ben Roethlisebrger. One of the reasons why many are predicting doom and gloom for the Steelers in 2021 is based on how Roethlisberger finished the season. No one can get the bad snap from Maurkice Pouncey and four interceptions out of their heads.

However, the franchise quarterback is back for 2021, and he admits he was fatigued at the end of last season.

“I will take that playoff and those games on me. Just feeling worn down and not playing good enough football at the end of the season.” Roethlisberger told media members last week during Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

“I had total reconstruction on my elbow, that might have something to do with it,” he said. “But no excuses. ... My arm was healed, obviously, I played. It was healthy. But I think anybody that has a big surgery, it almost takes — like that first year back, you are back but are you really back and feeling great?”

I have been on the record stating Roethlisberger should be as close to 100% in 2021, compared to what he was entering the 2020 season. The reason being last year’s offseason was spent doing nothing but rehabilitating his elbow. Sure he worked out and tried to stay in shape, but the focus was on getting his elbow right. Now, after a full offseason without any additional surgeries, Roethlisberger’s elbow should be good, and this should allow him to come into camp in better shape than he was a year ago.

As of now, his arm feels great, as if he is ready to play a new 17-game regular season schedule.

“My arm feels great, though,” Roethlisberger said. “I would like to wait to answer that question until we get into more of this season and see how it feels. Right now, it feels really good.”

So, just how different will it be for Roethlisberger this year, compared to last? Let him explain.

“Last year I threw thousands of balls in the offseason because we were rehabbing,” Roethlisberger said. “This year, it has gone back to the normal routine of throwing here, doing a little bit at home with the trainer. But mostly taking time off. I took a lot of time off from throwing, so I hope and think and really believe it will pay dividends this year.”

Roethlisberger, who is now 39, has many wondering if this is his last year suiting up for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of course, he side stepped the question like he does defensive lineman coming after him during a game.

“I’m going to approach this like I do every season — like it’s my last,” he said. “I think that’s the approach you have to take. And you don’t approach it that way because it could be your last, but you approach it because every single play in the game of football could be your last. Every game could be your last game. That just means I’m going out to give it everything I have.

“I have never looked towards the future. I’ve always looked at the right here and now, and that’s what’s important for me for this season is giving it everything I have right here and right now for this group of guys.”

Like most seasons, all eyes will be on Roethlisberger. Is the sun setting on his career? Does he still have what it takes to take a team to the Super Bowl? Under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who knows what will happen in 2021. The Steelers will be must-see TV every week.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they progress through the offseason and prepare for the 2021 regular season.