Tomlin: 'No hesitation' that Big Ben will play Week 1
And with that, Ben Roethlisberger has completed the trifecta for public votes of confidence from Pittsburgh Steelers management.
First, it was team owner Art Rooney voicing his thoughts on Feb. 5. Next came GM Kevin Colbert sharing his eight days later. Now, coach Mike Tomlin has become the latest to express support for Big Ben as he continues to recover from the right elbow injury that sidelined him in early September.
"Man, he looks great, but he’s not doing anything," Tomlin said during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take on Monday. "He looks awesome, man, but he hasn’t been asked to do anything as it pertains to his rehabilitation. The process day-to-day is going great but we’re not at a significant crossroad and it’s going to be a number of days before we are."
Roethlisberger will be entering his age-38 season this fall and, based on Tomlin’s observations, has every intention of taking back the driver’s seat kept warm by quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges for the 14 games he missed.
But, as Rooney, Colbert and Tomlin have all stated, Roethlisberger has yet to make significant strides in his rehab since undergoing surgery Sept. 23.
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Still, Big Ben is known as one of the league’s toughest QBs, having started in at least 11 games in his previous 15 seasons despite dealing with injuries. Keep in mind, he’s not that far removed from the 16-game slate he posted in 2018, his first since 2014.
This latest setback is the longest Roethlisberger has ever faced, but Tomlin is confident Steelers Nation will see their leader under center come Week 1.
"I have no hesitation, and I base that opinion on my experience and relationship with him and being around him for the number of years that I have," he said. "This guy is the ultimate competitor. He’s dropped the gauntlet down, he’s made a statement that he’s coming back and I look forward to watching him answer that challenge."
Speaking of making proclamations, Tomlin was also asked Monday about the possibility of reuniting with former Steelers receiver Antonio Brown.
In recent weeks, Brown, who has not played since his one-game stand with the Patriots on Sept. 15, has taken to the airwaves to express remorse for how his well-documented relationships with the Steelers, Raiders and even Roethlisberger have all soured over the past couple years.
Despite receiver being on the team’s list of offseason needs, Tomlin made it clear the team supports AB but is not looking to mend fences professionally at this time.
"I’ll say this: ‘Once a Steeler, Always a Steeler.’ We had great success over the course of nine-plus years with Antonio. We’re always going to be interested in his growth and development as a man and we’ll be open to assisting him in that but we have no current business interest at this time."
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