Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger 'Let It Rip' in Injury Rehab Throwing Session

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) looks to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Don Wright/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Ryan Switzer said Wednesday quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has started throwing his complete repertoire of passes at peak velocity during a workout Saturday. 

Switzer, who was part of the session, told Mark Kaboly of The Athletic it felt like Big Ben was back to full strength after being limited to two appearances last season before suffering an elbow injury:

"Man, he let it rip. There was no restraint, no hesitancy, he was just out there. He has been throwing like that for a while and, in my opinion at least, getting out there on that field for the first time and throwing full-speed routes was refreshing. The control factor was taken out of it. He was out there and he was throwing. Did some off-schedule stuff. No restraints. He threw everything—across his body. Everything."

Roethlisberger posted a teaser video from the workout Monday, which featured him saying he wasn't going to cut his hair or trim his beard until he could throw legit NFL passes again after undergoing surgery in September. The video shows glimpses of him throwing then cuts to him getting a haircut:

BigBen7.com @_BigBen7

Feels good to be back out there with my guys! @TeamJuJu @JamesConner_ @Switz https://t.co/hAlOwr7Ias

The 38-year-old Ohio native brought in Switzer, No. 1 wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner for the throwing session in Pittsburgh. 

"You know, like when the ball cuts through the air and you can hear that 'pfft-pfft-pfft' sound?" Switzer told Kaboly. "That's what JuJu said it sounded like. I didn't hear it but, man, I have been trying to catch with no gloves for a couple of months to build up these callouses, but ask my hands how they feel catching his throws."

The Steelers' lack of offseason moves at quarterback suggested the front office was optimistic about the six-time Pro Bowl selection making a complete recovery.

Pittsburgh didn't make any marquee additions at the sport's most important position during free agency or the draft. It's set to head into the season with four unproven options—Mason Rudolph, Paxton Lynch, Devlin "Duck" Hodges and J.T. Barrett—competing for one or two reserve roster spots.

It puts pressure on Roethlisberger to not only stay healthy but also to produce a bounce-back campaign for a team otherwise primed to contend in the AFC. Switzer said he's working hard to make it reality, per Kaboly.

"Somebody with the accolades, has all the money in the world and to have an injury like this and to see that drive ... I think a lot of people would be like, 'You know what I have accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish and I have the money, what am I doing?'" Switzer said.

Roethlisberger remained highly productive in 2018 as he completed 67 percent of his throws for 5,129 yards with 34 touchdowns and 16 interceptions while playing all 16 games.

The Steelers are hoping he can return to that level in 2020, and the early signs are promising.