From Bob Labriola, Steelers.com:
Roethlisberger had a Feb. 21 appointment in California with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who had performed the surgery, and the speculation was that he could be cleared to begin throwing a Nerf football. But the video showed Roethlisberger throwing what looked to be a regulation football, which has been interpreted as a good sign.
“We saw the video. Ben was with (Steelers head athletic trainer) John Norwig when they visited the doctors out in California. That video was posted (of him throwing), which was very encouraging, but what we re-emphasized is we love the progress but we don’t play until September. We’ll continue to follow the doctor’s orders, and we’ll continue to encourage Ben. But what’s exciting about it is we might have a better Ben Roethlisberger coming out of this surgery. He sat for a year, he didn’t have wear and tear on his body for a year. Sure, he had a significant surgery, but we’re optimistic he might be better.”
Colbert then was asked to address whether the progress presented in the video might alter the timeline for Roethlisberger’s return to football activity:
“The timeline is always going to be that we want to have Ben ready for regular season game No. 1, whenever that is. We’ll follow the doctor’s orders to a ‘T.’ John Norwig will follow the rehab at the doctor’s orders as well. With a guy like Ben, you have to be careful to hold him back a little bit if he progresses maybe a little too aggressively because we have to make sure he is there for September whenever our first game is.
“Everyone understands that game days are most important, but participating in minicamps, OTAs, whatever he can, will be part of him having a great season, but again, we’re really thinking we’re not worried about the surgery because it might be a better result. I’m excited and encouraged about where he can go.”
Colbert expanded a bit on some of the reasons why he’s “excited and encouraged” about where Roethlisberger can go. The fact there was no wear and tear on his body that comes from an NFL season, this offseason can be spent attacking the rehab on his elbow while not having to endure, for example, knee pain, shoulder stiffness, and anything else that could result from 16 games of professional football:
“First of all, there’s wear and tear, and he didn’t play football last season. Then again, there’s a certain amount of rust that builds up, and we look at it that way as well. But physically, he didn’t play a season of NFL football, so physically he should be better. The arm, who knows? His arm could be stronger coming out of this surgery. You never know the extent of an injury. When it happens, it happens, but how long was it bothering him without him even knowing it? So now we know where it is, and we are optimistic that he might be better.”
And as for the concerns about Roethlisberger looking to be over-weight in some photos:
“His physical shape is fine. In any offseason, we don’t see our players all the time. Ninety percent of them aren’t in the building. So we don’t know where they are. We’ll see where they are when they come back into the legal part of the offseason program. I never worry about a player’s physical appearance in the offseason.”
But maybe the most significant sign for Colbert that the Steelers might be getting a better version of Roethlisberger is his mental outlook.
“When you’re outside looking in and you can’t participate, I think you see it in a different light,” said Colbert. “Some people might say, ‘You know what, I don’t miss this,’ and walk away. Obviously, Ben didn’t take that approach. He had the surgery, he’s going to do the rehab as prescribed, and I think he’ll come back hungrier. He wants to prove that he’s not done.”
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