Pittsburgh, PA (KDKA)- Monday was a rough day for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, as the team announced that starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would undergo season-ending surgery on his right elbow.
Combined with the team’s 0-2 record, it made for a difficult start to the week, not just for fans but for Roethlisberger himself, as the quarterback expressed in his statement late yesterday. His sentiments were echoed by former Steelers coach and current The NFL Today studio analyst Bill Cowher.
“We have texted a little bit back and forth, I know that it was very disappointing to Ben. He was really embracing this year in terms of the amount of responsibility and trying to re-establish themselves as a team now without Antonio and obviously without Le’Veon for the last couple of years,” said Cowher via phone on Tuesday. “I think he is really disappointed about it. But I think he is looking forward to the recovery, and hopefully it will be speedy and quick and he’ll be able to get back there next year.”
On that front, there have been some question about how Roethlisberger, who will turn 38 in March of next year, would bounce back from the surgery. Cowher has no concerns on that front because of how Roethlisberger has focused on taking care of himself physically in the last few years. Cowher believes that the Steelers and their fans should be confident in the knowledge that Big Ben will work hard and return in time for the start of next season.
“What you have seen with Ben in the last few years, as he has gotten older, is he has made a much more conscious effort about taking care of himself physically. He has looked very good, and I think you’re going to see him embrace this challenge,” said Cowher. “I would be very confident in thinking that he will be back as good as he can be and that he will do everything he can on his part to be there for Week 1.”
Roethlisberger’s return to health would certainly be good news for both the quarterback and organization entering 2020. But what about the 2019 season? Backup quarterback and former third-round pick Mason Rudolph takes over the reins as the starter now. After a solid showing in the second half of Sunday’s game, Rudolph will make his first career start this week when the team travels to San Francisco to face the 49ers this Sunday. Going from a 15-year starter to a second-year player is a big change for a team. But Cowher believes the Steelers coaching staff will work with Rudolph to help him operate the offense efficiently before adding more to his plate as the season goes on.
“With Mason right now, his understanding of the offense is key. He will go through his progressions, and he has a little bit of a history with (James) Washington, since they played together in college,” said Cowher. “I think what they are going to do is let him (Mason) get comfortable in this offense. Let him get comfortable as he goes through the regular season. And as he progresses, they’ll give him more and more. In the meantime, it’s going to be putting him in a situation where he can operate this offense and they can work efficiently, not beat themselves.”