As Steelers Remain Confident, Ben Roethlisberger Set to Take Next Step in Rehab

Noah Strackbein

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger remains the most important, yet unknown, factor of the Steelers' 2020 offseason. After missing the final 14 games in 2019 following reconstructive surgery on his throwing elbow, the quarterback has remained off the field while taking steps towards rehabbing for a return this fall. 

Roethlisberger is scheduled for a check-up on his elbow on Friday, when he should gain permission to begin throwing smaller objects like tennis balls.

Last month, Steelers president Art Rooney II said Big Ben's rehab has been "so far, so good," with little progress made in physical activity. 

“He’s still early in his rehab situation, but all reports we’re getting have been positive," Rooney said. "We’re really looking for him to improve as we work into the spring here.”

Then, in early February, general manager Kevin Colbert backed Rooney's statement saying the Steelers are "hopeful" Roethlisberger will be healthy enough to return in 2020.

“We’re hopeful he can make a complete recovery, and as of right now, he’s on schedule for that,” Colbert said. “Where that goes remains to be seen.”

Still, Colbert reminded everyone that Roethlisberger - who turns 38 next month - is an older quarterback coming off the biggest surgery of his playing career. 

"We have to be realistic," Colbert said. "He’s a great quarterback who suffered a season-ending injury to his right arm. Optimistically, he’s on schedule to return, and we hope he’ll return to be a better Ben Roethlisberger than he was previous to the injury."

Before beginning the next phase of his return process, Roethlisberger already "looks great", according to his coach Mike Tomlin. In an interview with ESPN's First Take, Tomlin addressed his quarterback's rehab and gave little concern for what he's seen in Roethlisberger thus far. 

"He looks awesome, man," Tomlin said. "But he hasn’t been asked to do anything as it pertains to his rehabilitation. The process, day-to-day, is going great – but we’re not at a significant crossroad and it’s going to be a number of days before we are."

The Steelers expect more information on Roethlisberger's timetable to begin football activities after his check-up. Still, Tomlin and the organization seem confident he is on track to make a full recovery and return to the field as their starter this fall. 

"I have no hesitation and I base that opinion on my experience and relationship with him and being around him for the number of years that I have," Tomlin said. "This guy is the ultimate competitor. He’s dropped the gauntlet down, he’s made a statement that he’s coming back – and I look forward to watching him answer that challenge."

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