PITTSBURGH -- Six months removed from elbow surgery on his throwing arm, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he has no doubts that he'll be able to come back and play well this season.
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger expressed confidence in his ability to return from the elbow injury that ended his 2019 season in Week 2.
"I'm throwing without pain for the first time in years," Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette. "Some games, I would have a little pain. Some games, I would have a lot of pain. But in the New England game and the Seattle game [last season], it got to be too much. To be able to throw without pain now? That feels nice. That's a nice feeling. I know I'm not getting any younger, but I feel younger because I don't have any pain."
His personal assessment backs up the confidence general manager Kevin Colbert expressed at the NFL scouting combine last month.
"The thing that's exciting about it is we might have a better Ben Roethlisberger coming out of this surgery," Colbert said in Indianapolis. "He sat for a year. 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."
Roethlisberger, 38, got the green light to begin throwing a football a month ago, and the Steelers posted a video on Twitter of him throwing on Feb. 22.
"I had thrown a Nerf ball a little bit before that to my kids in the living room and my arm felt pretty good," Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette. "I knew it was going to be OK.
"But still, it felt so neat to throw a football. It had been a long time. I guess it was like riding a bike a little bit. You get back on and go. It's not like it had been a year. It has been months. I never throw much in the offseason, anyway, so I looked at the time I had off like it was my offseason."
Roethelisberger said he's throwing the ball twice a week, 40 times a day for about 20 yards. Next week, he said, he plans to ramp up to throwing three times a week. He throws both from his knees and from a flat-footed stance to practice getting his spin back. He also had a throwing session with teammate Ryan Switzer earlier this week when the wide receiver came over to his house in search of an open gym.
"I'll gradually ramp up the number of days and the throws and the distance and the velocity," Roethlisberger said in the interview. "I really feel like I could let it rip right now if I had to, but what's the point? There's no need for me to rush it. Our goal was for me to be 80%, 90%, 100% by OTAs and minicamp. Now that it looks like those things are going to be canceled [because of the coronavirus pandemic], I can take my time a little more."
In the interview, Roethlisberger also addressed the speculation that he has gained weight since the elbow surgery, refuting the claims.
"I've heard people say I'm fat, and that just blows my mind," Roethlisberger said. "I'm lighter and in better shape than I was in either of the past two years. I haven't stopped working out. I normally don't work out in the offseason, but I've been doing everything five days a week with my trainer. Cardio twice a week. Legs twice a week. Upper body twice a week. ...
"I guess it's my beard that makes me look heavier. I must have 5 pounds in that, I know. But I'm not overweight."