Ben Roethlisberger provides encouraging update on his recovery following elbow surgery

Ben Roethlisberger’s beard, something that has gone viral on social media several times since the Steelers’ quarterback began growing it out last season, is coming off sooner rather than later. 

During a recent interview with Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said that he will shave the beard off once he can throw an “NFL-caliber pass,” something he hopes to achieve over the next month or two. Roethlisberger, who missed 14 games last season after undergoing surgery on his right elbow, offered a positive update on his recovery. He started throwing again last month after visiting with the doctors that performed his surgery. Roethlisberger hopes to increase his throwing volume next week. 

“Right now, it’s about 40 throws a day and about 20 yards,” said Roethlisberger, who led the NFL with 5,129 passing yards in 2018, his last full season. “I throw from my knees and I throw flat-footed. It’s mainly just about getting my spin back.

“I’ll gradually ramp up the number of days and the throws and the distance and the velocity. I really feel like I could let it rip right now if I had to, but what’s the point? There’s no need for me to rush it. Our goal was for me to be 80, 90, 100% by OTAs and minicamp. Now that it looks like those things are going to be canceled [due to the coronavirus pandemic], I can take my time a little more.”

Roethlisberger, who turned 38 last month, has been working out with his trainer five times a week. He also does cardio twice a week, legs twice a week, and upper body twice a week. He says that he is “lighter and in better shape than I was in either of the past two years. I haven’t stopped working out.” 

Along with focusing on his exercise and throwing regiments, Roethlisberger has been keeping an eye on the start of the Steelers’ free agency. He said that it bothers him that offensive lineman Ramon Foster, his teammate for 11 seasons, retired without a Super Bowl ring. While Roethlisberger won a pair of rings earlier in his career, none of his current teammates have won one in Pittsburgh. With Foster’s retirement earlier this week, that leaves Roethlisberger and center Maurkice Pouncey as the only Steelers that still remain from the team’s last Super Bowl squad from 2010. 

Roethlisberger said that he is encouraged from what he saw from his teammates in 2019. Despite injuries to Roethlisberger, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, RB James Conner, QB Mason Rudolph and DL Stephon Tuitt (among others), Pittsburgh overcame a 1-4 start by winning seven of their next eight games while putting themselves in position to quality for the playoffs. The Steelers, whose winning streak was anchored by the dominant play of their defense, ultimately ran out of steam and healthy players, dropping their last three games to finish with an 8-8 record. And although they lost Foster and DL Javon Hagrave (who signed a three-year deal with the Eagles) earlier this week, the Steelers are expected to have the majority of their starters back for the 2020 season. Pittsburgh has also signed a pair of free agents, coming to terms with former Chargers fullback Derek Watt and former Chiefs OL Stefen Wisniewski. 

“I’m excited about our team,” Roethlisberger said. “I think we’re all excited about next season already.”

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