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Ben Roethlisberger: more Robert Downey Jr. than Iron Man.
First start: Sept. 26, 2004
The No. 11 overall pick in the 2004 draft, Ben Roethlisberger was not expected to start right away. After a Charlie Batch injury moved him to the backup spot, Roethlisberger entered his first NFL game in Week 2 at Baltimore for an injured Tommy Maddox in the second half.
He would get the start the following week in Miami in hurricane-like conditions. After setting an NFL record with 13 consecutive wins to start his career, Pittsburgh had finally found its franchise successor to Terry Bradshaw.
Total Starts Missed: 13 (seven for injury, four for suspension, two for playoff rest)
Start Percentage: 89.7 percent (113/126)
Longest Consecutive Starts Streak: 30 games
2004 (1): After a 13-0 start as a rookie, Roethlisberger sat out the Week 17 game in Buffalo with the AFC’s No. 1 seed locked up. Though he did leave the Week 16 contest against Baltimore with an injury in the second half, it was not serious, and the Steelers were resting multiple starters in Buffalo.
2005 (4): Roethlisberger injured his knee during the game-winning drive in San Diego in Week 6, causing him to miss the Jacksonville game the following week. In his second game back, Roethlisberger suffered a torn meniscus that required arthroscopic surgery. He missed the next three starts before returning to lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl title.
2006 (1): The infamous offseason motorcycle accident did not cause Roethlisberger to miss any playing time, but an emergency appendectomy just before the season did take him out for Week 1. After a difficult start to the season, Roethlisberger suffered a concussion in Week 7 at Atlanta, causing him to miss the second half. However, he started the final 15 games of the season.
2007 (1): Locked into their playoff seed, the Steelers rested multiple starters in Week 17 at Baltimore, including Roethlisberger. It ended his career-long streak of 30 consecutive starts.
2009 (1): After suffering a concussion (fourth of his NFL career) in Kansas City, Roethlisberger left that game. He appeared ready to start in Baltimore the following week, but it was decided late that he would sit out, and Dennis Dixon got the start instead.
2010 (4): In an offseason that featured a second allegation of sexual assault by Roethlisberger, Roger Goodell suspended him for six games to start the 2010 season as a violation of the player conduct policy. After the suspension was moved down to four games, Roethlisberger served it in the first four weeks of the season before returning to the team for its Week 5 bye week.
2011 (1): After a high-ankle sprain in Week 14 against Cleveland, Roethlisberger limped his way to the finish of the game. He played against the 49ers the following Monday night but was ineffective. With the St. Louis Rams coming to town, the Steelers decided to let Roethlisberger rest his ankle and started Charlie Batch in Week 16. Roethlisberger returned the following week for the season finale in Cleveland.
For more detail on Roethlisberger’s history of playing through and after injury, see here.
Roethlisberger appears destined to play behind a bad offensive line, as the latest injury news on rookie guard David DeCastro does not sound promising for 2012.
Essentially never able to play a full 16-game season and already talking about a partially torn rotator cuff, look for Roethlisberger to miss a game or two this season (just like almost any season). At least he has done a good job of avoiding the significant injuries.
In fact, with 314 sacks and countless other shots, it might be a miracle Roethlisberger has only missed enough starts due to injury to match his jersey number.