Ben Roethlisberger took advantage of a warm and sunny Pittsburgh morning on Monday, throwing passes outside as he continues to recover from last September's right elbow surgery. Following his throwing session, the Steelers' veteran quarterback said that he fully expects to be back on the field when Pittsburgh begins the 2020 regular season. He added that he would have been able to participate in the Steelers' spring practices, which have been canceled by the NFL in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"My plan was to be out there doing individuals, doing one-on-one routes during OTAs and minicamps," Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. "That obviously is not going to happen. But if I was ready then, I'll be ready when it's time."
Last month, Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook that he 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."
The 38-year-old quarterback missed 14 games last season after sustaining his elbow injury. With Big Ben on the sideline, Pittsburgh won just one of their first five games before winning seven of their next eight games. The Steelers eventually ran out of steam and healthy players, dropping their final three games to finish with an 8-8 record while missing the playoffs for a second straight year. Pittsburgh's success during their 7-1 stretch was largely due to their defense, a unit that finished third in the NFL in fewest yards per carry allowed, third in passing yards allowed, fifth in points allowed, sixth in red zone efficiency and ninth in third down efficiency.
Along with his rehab, Roethlisberger, who led the NFL with 5,129 passing yards in 2019, has been keeping an eye on Pittsburgh's recent free agent acquisitions. He said that he is excited about the acquisition of former Lions/Colts tight end Eric Ebron, who caught 13 touchdown passes during his first season in Indianapolis.
"I was a big fan of his coming out (of college)," Roethlisberger said. "Now that he's here, I'm excited to see what he can bring to this team. We know he's an incredible talent. Speaking to him, I can see his desire, and his passion to be great. I'm excited about what he can bring to the table opposite Vance [McDonald]."
Ebron, who signed a two-year deal worth a reported $12 million,to join forces with Roethlisberger.
"I have always had this love for Big Ben," Ebron told the team's official website. "One of my old high school coaches was the biggest Steelers fan ever, and biggest Tar Heel fan. I went to North Carolina and he was ecstatic. I would always be at his house and we would be watching Pittsburgh. I had this love for Big Ben.
"I am excited. I can't wait. Ben has earned so many stripes in this league. You know you are playing with a guy who is a winner. He is a fighter. He has played through so many tough injuries, done things to will his team to win, and won two Super Bowls. It's going to be fun to get to learn from him."