Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger ready for game action after concussion scare

September 8, 2018
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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walks of the field with head athletic trainer John Norwig after being knocked to the ground in the seven shots drill during practice Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 at Memorial Stadium in Latrobe.

A trip to concussion protocol notwithstanding, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger feels rejuvenated heading into his preseason debut this weekend against the Tennessee Titans.

The third preseason game typically marks Roethlisberger’s first -- and only -- appearance before the regular season. If recent history is any indication, Roethlisberger will play two series Saturday against the Titans before turning the offense over to his backups.

“I feel healthy. My arm feels good,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday morning. “Now, it’s just a matter of transitioning that to the game field.”

Roethlisberger came to training camp slimmer than in recent years, and he credited his weight loss to a change in diet and his work with a personal trainer. He nearly made it through training camp in Latrobe unscathed. But in the final practice, after just four plays, Roethlisberger fell after right tackle Marcus Gilbert accidentally bumped into him.

“You don’t expect to get hit, then to get hit from the blind side,” Roethlisberger said. “Gil happened to be pushing the guy (linebacker Keion Adams) around and caught me just right. It knocked the wind out of me a little bit, too.”

With members of the training staff in tow, Roethlisberger headed off the practice field and was given tests to determine if he had a concussion. Coach Mike Tomlin announced Roethlisberger was in the concussion protocol, but Roethlisberger confirmed he didn’t suffer a head injury.

“The scary thing is the verbage: concussion protocol,” Roethlisberger said. “What people don’t realize, players included, is you don’t have a concussion. It means you go into the protocol system to get tested for a concussion.

“Right away, there were no symptoms. I took a test at the facility and again when we got back here (to UPMC Rooney Sports Complex). Everything came back perfect. But because of the reporting and just the lack of knowledge, it was assumed I had a concussion, but I never did, so that’s a good thing.”

Although he hasn’t taken a snap in a game situation, Roethlisberger believes he has gotten sufficient work since the Steelers reported to training camp July 25. He has adhered to a schedule he adopted a few years ago one full day of practice followed by one half day of practice followed by a day off.

From a physical standpoint -- the concussion scare aside -- Roethlisberger called his camp a success.

“It’s how do I feel, whether it’s my arm, my shoulder, my elbow, knees, ankle, just the general feeling of my body,” he said. “My arm feels stronger than it ever has. That’s always the big key after practices: How many times am I putting ice on my body? I think there was one time at camp, so that’s a good sign.”

Tomlin also likes what he has seen from Roethlisberger, who is navigating through his 15th training camp.

“Man, he’s been awesome,” Tomlin said. “Been really sharp, not only in terms of what he does, just how he’s communicating and helping in aiding the development of some people that are going to work alongside him. It’s been a very positive experience.”

When he suits up Saturday, Roethlisberger likely won’t play more than a quarter.

In the past two seasons, Roethlisberger ran 16 and 19 plays, respectively, with the offense. He was 6 of 9 for 73 yards last year against the Indianapolis Colts. Two years ago, he directed touchdown drives of 15 and 4 plays against the New Orleans Saints, completing 12 of 17 passes for 148 yards.

“That would be ideal just to get out there,” Roethlisberger said. “The amount of plays determines how we do series-wise. Are you going three-and-out or sustaining drives? It’s the first time we’ll all be together on the field at the same time. It would be nice to finish them off and stay healthy.”

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