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Ben Roethlisberger is in his 17th season with the Steelers, which means he has played more seasons and more games than anyone in franchise history. Mike Webster held the previous record of 220 games.
“I attribute it to Jesus and just really being blessed,” said Roethlisberger of his longevity. “I am so thankful to be in the black and gold 17 years later. Almost half my life, I've been here giving Steelers fans everything I have. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I wouldn't want to do it for any other team or any other fans.”
He has won two Super Bowls, holds the franchise record for most career passing yards, yards in a season and in a game, just to name a few of the team records that bear his name. Yet, if you have heard him talk from the onset of the 2020 season, you would think he was just a young pup because of how tough he has been on himself.
Roethlisberger is coming back from an elbow injury that ended his 2019 season six quarters
after it began, and when he returned in 2020,
he was quick to admit he was rusty.
“I looked at the way I played, my decision-making. There was rust early,” said Roethlisberger after Week 1 of the season. “It's not like I played perfect. I looked at sometimes maybe I got out of the pocket a little too quick, or didn't have the same feel in the pocket early on that I am used to having. I think that just comes with not getting hit, even in practice. Yeah, you have a pocket, you step up, but defenders aren't hitting you in practice so you lose some of that feel of where you can slide to, where you can step. So, I think that will come back the more reps and plays you get.”
The rust wore off, but Roethlisberger work-ing on multiple aspects of his game to try and improve every week has not. Yes, this is a likely Hall of Fame quarterback who is spending time in practice working on anything from basic fundamentals to the minute details that make him the perfectionist he is.
“Going back and reviewing, I felt from Week 1 to Week 2, my pocket presence and aware-ness was better,” said Roethlisberger. “I do feel I got a little lazy with my feet, which then, in turn, translated to a lazy arm. There were some throws that I kind of dropped my elbow. I don't want to get too technical, but it became more of a three-quarter release instead of an over the top when I didn't need to.
“There are obviously times you have to change your release point. There were too many throws, I felt looking back, that I just have to get my feet working better, and that will then translate, hopefully, to the rest of the body. Then I won't be guiding some of the throws. That, to me, is the biggest thing I'm going to work on (in practice), even though it's an off day. I'm going to really work on my feet and kind of starting it there with translating the rest of my body."
Typically Roethlisberger is given Wednesdays off to keep his arm fresh, but instead of throw-ing he has been working on his footwork.
“I've gotten away with it in the past being able to not necessarily be perfect from the ground up and just letting my arm kind of make up for a lot of things, a lot of imperfections if you talk to quarterback people,” said Roethlisberger. “Whether it's the layoff, whether it's the surgery, like I said, I feel great. I just need to get it in my mind that I can still make the throws when I'm not in the perfect position to make them.”
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