|While Big Ben waits for Mike Wallace, he talks to his other young WR, Antonio Brown. (AP)|
Ben Roethlisberger is without question the most important player on the Steelers roster. That's why is somewhat disconcerting to hear the words "torn rotator cuff" and "throwing shoulder" mentioned in the same sentence when describing Pittsburgh's franchise quarterback. But in typical Roethlisberger-ian fashion, he seems impervious to pain. Either that or he's extremely lucky.
"I'm good. It's OK, just sore," he said according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette when asked about his arm injury. "I have a little torn rotator cuff. That doesn't heal. We just have to hope it doesn't tear the rest of the way, according to Doc," Big Ben added, laughing.
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Roethlisberger said he sustained the injury during the November 6 game against the Ravens, but Bouchette notes that this is the first time Big Ben referred to it as a "rotator cuff tear." In previous training camps, the Steelers quarterback has been known to complain of arm soreness, likely do to overuse. That doesn't sound like it will be a problem this time around.
"It actually feels great,'' he said. "I don't have any pains anymore. Let's just hope it doesn't get any worse. …
"It's part of getting older, too. If you watch walk-throughs, I used to throw all the time. Now it's just backing off. Now I don't ever throw during walk-throughs. It's less throwing; I think that's smart anyway. As you get older, you just need to take care of yourself whether you're hurt or not."
This might also explain why the organization finally got around to addressing the offensive line in April's draft. There are only so many sacks Big Ben, now 30, can be expected to survive. Guard David DeCastro and tackle Mike Adams, taken in Rounds 1 and 2, could both open the season in the starting lineup. A bigger key to the offense, however, might involve a player who has yet to report to camp: wide receiver Mike Wallace.
"I've tried to be proactive and talk to Mike," Roethlisberger told the Bouchette Wednesday. "I just want to encourage him, let him know we love him, he's a great teammate, he's a great friend.
"We just want him to get here as soon as he can. Obviously, this is a business and he has to do what's best for him. I don't know what's going on or what's offered. But I just want Mike to be happy and I want him to be here because he's a great asset to the team."
Roethlisberger will probably get his wish because Wallace doesn't have much leverage. The team won't negotiate with him until he signs his $2.7 million tender and reports to training camp, and his only other option is to sit out which, ultimately, would only exacerbate his current situation because the Steelers could still choose to franchise him next offseason. But Big Ben doesn't think Wallace wills stay away from Latrobe much longer.
"I don't know what's going on with his agent or what they're telling each other, but he wants to be here," Roethlisberger said. "I believe he will be here and I think he'll be here soon."
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reports that the Steelers still want to sign their big-play wideout but in the $10 million-per-year range. Whether Wallace is amenable to that is another matter -- at least for the time being.
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