The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't just been dealing with a couple injuries, their roster over the past two weeks resembles a MASH unit more than a starting lineup for an NFL franchise. Nonetheless, the team continues to win, but at 4-1 Ben Roethlisberger gave his thoughts on why the team might be dealing with a lot of the bumps and bruises currently keeping starters like Ryan Shazier, Robert Golden and Marcus Gilbert out of the lineup.
"I think if you consistently have injuries, soft-tissue injuries and hamstrings, (dialing it back should be a consideration)," Roethlisberger told Dustin Dopirak of DKPittsburghSports.com. "We go as hard as anybody in training camp and during the season. Obviously, I'm not one to complain because I don't get hit like the other guys do. But I will stand up for the guys up front, running backs and guys who take a pounding every day during a long season. The season is super-long as it is and very physical. When you're doing it over and over and the guys' shoulders are getting sore and knees start getting sore and hips and hamstrings and quads and things, and then they re-occur, you've gotta take a look at maybe what you're doing. I know as the Pittsburgh Steelers, we pride ourselves on being a physical football team, so I know it's a fine line you have to walk."
Strong comments from the franchise quarter, and team captain, but ones which shouldn't be shrugged off either. Mike Tomlin has certainly picked up the physicality this season, starting in Latrobe, PA, and this isn't the first time veterans have commented on how it could possibly wear down a team.
In 2007, Mike Tomlin's first season with the Steelers, veterans such as Hines Ward and James Farrior talked about how Tomlin was so insistent on being physical and tough on the players, it ground them into a proverbial stump. They ended up losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Wild Card round of the playoffs that season, many quoting physical exhaustion as a primary reason why.
With a new coach at the time, you could understand why someone didn't necessarily speak up, but Roethlisberger is simply doing his part as a team captain to try and prevent further injury to players who will be needed to bring a seventh Lombardi trophy back to Pittsburgh.
"You see those pads on top of lockers being worn all year long," Roethlisberger said. "Like I said, for me, I can't complain too much because I'm not the one being hit, but I will stand up for the big boys."
When asked what he thought could be a possible resolution to the issue, Roethlisberger didn't have much to say.
"I'm not the coach or the owners or the league or the office," he said. "I'm just a player."
Some might suggest the physicality being necessary to improve aspects of the game like tackling, but despite the team's efforts, the tackling remains a constant issue on a weekly basis. So, maybe the practices could be dialed back a bit, but ultimately there needs to be a middle ground of physicality, and wise coaching, to make sure your team is at it's best, when it's best is absolutely required.