Ben Roethlisberger

Injury Notes: Big Ben, Massie, Rankins

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent elbow surgery today, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The veteran is expected to be ready for the 2020 season. This optimism is similar to what we heard yesterday when we learned about Big Ben’s impending surgery.

Schefter adds that Roethlisberger had surgery on his right elbow. The operation was done by Dr. Neal ElAttrache (in consultation with team physician Jim Bradley) in Los Angeles. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky notes (on Twitter) that this is the same surgeon who operated on Aaron Rodgers collarbone back in 2017.

“Once Ben returns to Pittsburgh, he immediately will begin working with the Steelers’ medical staff on his rehabilitation, and he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the field for the 2020 NFL season,” the Steelers said in a statement (via Schefter).

We learned yesterday that the procedure would repair a muscle tear, and it didn’t involve any ligaments or tendons. Roethlisberger is expected to begin throwing by the spring, and it sounds like he should be good to go come next season.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Bears right tackle Bobby Massie was forced to sit out tonight’s game against the Redskins due to a bout with vertigo, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (via Twitter). The illness apparently popped up today, and it’s uncertain if this is a temporary or long-term issue for the 30-year-old. After starting each of his 46 games during his first three seasons in Chicago, Massie added another two starts to his resume this season.
  • On Saturday, the Packers placed offensive guard Lane Taylor on the injured reserve with a biceps injury, and we now have a bit more clarity on his outlook. Demovsky reports (via Twitter) that the 29-year-old will ultimately need surgery on his left bicep. While the veteran could return from the injured reserve in late November, the operation may sideline him for the rest of the season. Taylor started a pair of games this season before suffering the injury.
  • There’s a chance that Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins sees this field next Sunday night, but Nick Underhill of The Athletic tweets that the 25-year-old is more likely to return in Week 5 or Week 6. The 2016 first-rounder has yet to play in a game this season as he recovers from his Achilles injury. After compiling a career-high eight sacks during the 2018 regular season, Rankins suffered the injury during the divisional round of the playoffs.

Ben Roethlisberger Expected To Make Full Recovery

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has vowed to return to the field, and to that end, the two-time Super Bowl champ will undergo his season-ending elbow surgery this week, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports.

Luckily for Roethlisberger, he will not require Tommy John surgery, so Schefter’s sources say there is no concern about the signal-caller’s availability for 2020. “There is complete optimism that he will be ready to roll next season,” one source said. “No one is concerned that next year is going to be a problem.”

Although Schefter says the exact nature of Roethlisberger’s elbow injury remains unclear, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the procedure will repair a muscle tear and does not involve any ligaments or tendons (which is in keeping with the report that TJ surgery is not required). JLC adds Big Ben’s recovery plan will include throwing in the spring.

In the meantime, Pittsburgh is not throwing in the towel on the 2019 campaign, as evidenced by the team’s trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick earlier this week. The club has expressed full confidence in second-year QB Mason Rudolph, and both La Canfora (in a separate piece) and Schefter remind us that the Steelers were so enamored with Rudolph — and so convinced that the division-rival Bengals were locked in on him — that they leapfrogged Cincinnati in the third round of the 2018 draft to select him. At the time, then-Bengals HC Marvin Lewis said he felt as though the Steelers had bugged the Bengals’ war room.

In fact, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Steelers had a first-round grade on Rudolph, which is why they believe they can remain competitive this season.

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Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger Vows To Return

Ben Roethlisberger is done for the year after suffering a serious elbow injury and many have speculated that this could ultimately end his career. But, Big Ben, who turns 38 in March, says that won’t be the case. 

[RELATED: Big Ben Done For Year]

The Steelers committed three years to me this offseason and I fully intend to honor my contract and reward them with championship-level play,” he said (via ESPN.com).

Thanks to his three-year, $80MM extension, Big Ben is under contract through the 2021 season. Before the injury, the buzz was centered on whether Roethlisberger would, or would not, play beyond ’21. Many doubt that Big Ben can bounce back and play next season, but both the quarterback and head coach Mike Tomlin believe he will.

He fully intends to come back from his injury, and everything we’ve heard, we’re comfortable that’s a strong possibility,” Tomlin said.

For now, the Steelers will turn to Mason Rudolph with the newly-promoted Devlin Hodges as his backup.

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Steelers Place Ben Roethlisberger On IR, Promote QB Devlin Hodges

Mike Tomlin confirmed Ben Roethlisberger will miss the rest of this season due to the elbow injury he sustained Sunday, and the Steelers moved quickly to adjust their quarterback depth chart. The team placed Roethlisberger on IR and promoted Devlin Hodges from its practice squad.

Recently re-signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad, Hodges was with the team in the preseason. He completed 20 of 38 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Hodges won the Walter Payton Award, given to Division I-FCS’ top player, in 2016 while at Samford.

This will mark a major change for the Steelers, who in 2018 had Josh Dobbs installed as Roethlisberger’s backup. Dobbs is now in Jacksonville, and Hodges will back up Mason Rudolph. The Steelers just extended Big Ben this offseason. He is under contract through the 2021 season.

Pittsburgh plans to look for another quarterback, with the likely hope the to-be-determined acquisition will be stationed between Rudolph and Hodges on the depth chart, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets.

The Steelers took Rudolph in the 2018 third round. Big Ben was critical of the pick, as it used an asset on a developmental quarterback rather than a position player who could help immediately. Unless the Steelers bring in a veteran backup, they will find out plenty about Rudolph this season.

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Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger Done For Year

The Steelers’ worst fears have been confirmed. On Monday morning, head coach Mike Tomlin announced that Ben Roethlisberger‘s season is over. 

The quarterback was hoping to avoid surgery after suffering an elbow injury over the weekend, but doctors came back with bad news after looking at his scans. With that, Mason Rudolph now becomes the Steelers’ starting QB.

The Steelers traded Josh Dobbs to the Jaguars last week, leaving Rudolph as their only other signal caller on the roster. The club is now expected to promote Devlin Hodges from the practice squad to serve as Rudolph’s backup, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

Before this, Roethlisberger hadn’t missed a game due to injury since Week 7 of the 2016 season. Obviously, this wasn’t a good time for his luck to run out – the Steelers are 0-2 after being blown out by the Patriots in the season opener and Sunday’s tough loss to the Seahawks.

Roethlisberger might not have the support of former teammate Antonio Brown, but he was sharp in 2018 with career-highs in completions (452), pass attempts (675), passing yards (5,129), and touchdowns (34). He also started in all 16 games, something he hadn’t done since the 2014 campaign. Though, in the interest of equal time, we should mention that he also led the NFL with 16 interceptions.

Advanced metrics lauded Roethlisberger’s work as well, as he finished fourth in Total QBR and eighth in adjusted net yards per attempt. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger ranked fifth in Football Outsiders‘ DYAR, which measures value over a replacement level player, and eighth in DVOA, meaning he was effective on a per-play basis.

Thanks to the three-year extension he inked in the offseason, Roethlisberger is under contract through the 2021 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger To Miss Time?

A decision is expected today on whether Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will need elbow surgery, league sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Big Ben, naturally, wants to avoid the operation, but that will ultimately be determined by medical professionals. 

Roethlisberger has not missed a game due to injury since Week 7 of the 2016 season. He’s always been tough, durable, and able to play through the pain, but this injury probably sideline him for at least some time.

Surgery or no surgery, the Steelers figure to turn to Mason Rudolph as their starter beginning in Week 3. After Big Ben exited, Rudolph went 12-of-19 for 112 yards, two scores, and an INT.

This, of course, is the last thing the Steelers wanted. They’re 0-2 to start the year and, making matters worse, they’re waiting for word on the knee injury suffered by running back James Conner.

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AB Fallout: Gruden, Steelers, Contract, Doss

One of the crazier sagas in modern NFL history concluded Saturday. The Raiders released Antonio Brown after voiding his guarantees, setting themselves up for another potential decision on Brown requiring an arbitrator. Jon Gruden addressed the decision, which came a day after he said Brown would play in Week 1 against the Broncos.

We just have exhausted everything,” Gruden said. “We tried every way possible to make it work. And all I’m gonna say is it’s disappointing. We did everything we could to make this work. I’m sorry it didn’t. I apologize, but I’ll tell you, I’m very proud of what we did as an organization to try. I wish Antonio the best. I’m sorry we never got a chance to see him in silver and black. … I just don’t think it worked. It didn’t fit here.”

The Raiders’ top receivers going into Monday night’s game are now Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson. They drafted Hunter Renfrow and kept Ryan Grant over Gruden Hard Knocks favorite Keelan Doss.

Here is the latest from this round of AB fallout:

  • Brown did not completely morph into the polarizing figure he now is until Week 17 of last season, a sequence that began his Pittsburgh exit. A 2012 date sticks with some Steelers figures, however. A day after Brown received the first of his two Steelers extensions (July 28, 2012), he engaged in a heated exchange with Steelers defenders and then-DC Dick LeBeau at a training camp practice, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com notes. Another component in the Brown saga, per Robinson: Steelers owner Dan Rooney‘s death. The late owner was a Brown supporter, and Robinson adds Brown “took it hard” when the organization prioritized Ben Roethlisberger over him. This is a bit strange because the Steelers did not give Big Ben his latest extension until Brown forced his way out, though the team did back Roethlisberger after Brown’s Week 17 became an amazing run of drama.
  • Drew Rosenhaus mentioned this Brown saga indeed could become a legal situation, regarding the released wideout’s $29MM-plus in guarantees, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). “We’ll do what’s best for Antonio. We will speak with the NFLPA,” Rosenhaus said, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). While the Raiders no longer employ Brown, their part in this process does not look to be over. If Brown were to win a grievance, the Raiders could be tagged with $29.125MM in dead money, ex-GM Mike Tannenbaum tweets. The Steelers are already eating $21.12MM in 2019 dead cap charges.
  • Interestingly, the Raiders tried to bring Doss back after releasing Brown. But the Jaguars moved to give the rookie UDFA a full veteran-minimum salary to keep him, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (video link). Doss will become by far Jacksonville’s highest-paid practice squad player, making an active-roster minimum of $495K. The practice squad minimum is $8K per week.
  • Any team that signs Brown will guarantee 25% of his 2019 salary, per OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald (on Twitter), because of termination pay rules. However, if one of the other three teams playing on Monday night — the Texans, Saints or Broncos — sign Brown before their respective games (extremely unlikely), Brown’s salary would be fully guaranteed.
  • Count the Saints out, however, with Sean Payton quickly indicating (via NOLA.com’s Herbie Teope, on Twitter) his team will not pursue the volatile All-Pro. This figures to be a theme, but there will certainly be teams that investigate this situation for a possible free agent signing.

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Ben, Bengals

Sidelined with a Lisfranc injury that kept him from performing at the Combine, Marquise Brown has resumed running, Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Although Zreibec adds (on Twitter) Brown will miss Ravens OTAs, he is still believed to be in good shape for an on-time debut. A minicamp return was once thought to be a target of Brown’s, the first wide receiver taken in this year’s draft is believed to be ahead of schedule. The Ravens seem to be expecting Brown to be ready by the time their rookies report for training camp. Lisfranc injuries can be quite tricky, so the Ravens showing caution with Brown certainly makes sense. It will be interesting how the Ravens will use the deep threat, considering how their previous long-range target, John Brown, saw his production hit a wall after Lamar Jackson took the reins last season.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Ben Roethlisberger did not opt to gather Steelers skill-position players together for private workouts in recent years, but that changed recently. The 16th-year quarterback brought several Steelers weapons, including JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner, to his lake house in Georgia for some on-field work, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. This figures to be an interesting offseason for Roethlisberger, who will be working with a younger (and less proven) receiver cast after Antonio Brown‘s ugly departure.
  • The Bengals likely will again turn to Giovani Bernard as Joe Mixon‘s top backup, but the team did add two running backs in the sixth round — Trayveon Williams and a former college backfield stablemate of Mixon’s in Rodney Anderson. The Oklahoma product is coming off an ACL tear that marred his final Sooners season. Anderson, who tore the ligament in September of last year, will not participate in Cincinnati’s offseason program but is expected to be ready by the start of training camp, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes. Anderson left Oklahoma early despite the injury and comes to western Ohio after a litany of maladies. Prior to the ACL tear, he suffered a broken leg, a neck injury that nullified his 2016 season and ankle tendon damage. But Anderson led the Sooners with 1,161 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017.
  • On the subject of reserve running backs, Kenneth Dixon‘s Ravens role may be in jeopardy. The team added Mark Ingram in free agency and drafted Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill in the fourth round. The Baltimore backfield houses holdovers in Dixon and Gus Edwards, but Zreibec writes (subscription required) the older player is the more likely player to be the odd man out. Injuries and suspensions have marred the 2016 fourth-round pick’s career. Dixon did average 5.6 yards per carry on 60 totes last season.

Ben Roethlisberger To Continue Playing Beyond 2021?

The Steelers recently inked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a lucrative contract extension that will keep him under club control through 2021. At the time, GM Kevin Colbert said that the contract would likely be Big Ben’s last.

That jibed with the sentiments that Colbert expressed earlier this year when he first indicated that he was exploring a new deal for his star quarterback. But now he’s suggesting that he would be open to keeping Roethlisberger around in 2022 — which would be Roethlisberger’s age-40 season — and beyond.

Colbert said (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk), “I know [Roethlisberger] doesn’t have an expiration date. We just felt that [the extension] was a foreseeable future that we were able to do, and he was agreeable to. But I’m sure that he doesn’t have an expiration date. I know that he’s still very competitive. He still wants to do this at a high level.”

Of course, Tom Brady will be 42 before the season starts, Drew Brees will play his age-40 season this year, and Peyton Manning was almost 40 when he played his last game. Although those future Hall-of-Famers have not absorbed as many hits as Roethlisberger throughout their careers, they have shown that geriatric signal-callers have plenty to offer.

Colbert added, “What [Roethlisberger] wants is more Super Bowls. And he wants to continue to try to win, and we’re gonna support that. And that was a big part of why we were willing to do what we did, and now it’s our job to help him help us get there.”

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Steelers GM: Likely Big Ben’s Last Deal

This week, Ben Roethlisberger inked a lucrative new extension with the Steelers to take him through the 2021 season. This deal, GM Kevin Colbert says, will likely be his last (Twitter link via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com). 

This doesn’t come as a huge surprise – Roethlisberger celebrated his 37th birthday in March and the new pact will take him through his age-39 campaign. Roethlisberger has flirted with retirement a few times in the past, so it was never expected that he would plan for the Tom Brady route.

Even in his old age, Big Ben remains effective. He’s also healthier than he has been in the past. Roethlisberger started all 16 games last year, marking his first perfect attendance campaign since 2014.

This year, Big Ben will seek to prove that he can conquer both father time and the absence of star wide receiver Antonio Brown. There’s plenty of reason to believe that he can pull it off – he finished fourth in Total QBR and eighth in adjusted net yards per attempt last season, even though the Steelers fell just shy of the playoffs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.