While most fan bases out there hit the panic button whenever a nagging injury hits a key player, the proud members of “Steeltown” just wave their terrible towel and calmly reply that everything will work out. When your team has won six Super Bowl titles, it’s easy to take it one day at a time.
But with franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger revealing to local media yesterday that he does indeed have a tear in his rotator cuff, the panic button might actually be within arms reach for once.
Roethlisberger insists that it isn’t a big deal, even referring to it as his “little torn rotator cuff.” He claims that it isn’t that big of a deal and the soreness is the only real issue and won’t cause him to miss any time this season. But what would you expect him to say?
With a team already going through some major personnel changes due to cap issues and having a dispute with star wide receiver Mike Wallace, that threatens every day to get nasty, this was probably the last camp story Pittsburgh wanted out there.
Roethlisberger says he is more concerned about the offense that has been installed by new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The lack of his big play wide receiver and a surefire starting running back means Big Ben might have to throw a little more than usual in the early goings of 2012.
A quarterback can play on a slightly torn rotator cuff, but if the pounding that Roethlisberger took in 2011 pours into this year, that “little tear” could easily translate into “torn.” Then it’s months of recovery time and the likely end of the season for him.
When pressed about the severity and lasting effects on his 2012 season, Roethlisberger seemed to get better in mid-sentence:
“It’s part of getting older, too. If you watch walk-throughs, I used to throw all the time. Now it’s just backing off. Now I don’t ever throw during walk-throughs. It’s less throwing; I think that’s smart anyway. As you get older, you just need to take care of yourself whether you’re hurt or not. It actually feels great. I don’t have any pains anymore. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get any worse.”
Sounds to me like he’s trying to convince himself, as well as the rest of Steeltown.
Pittsburgh has been able to stay afloat without Roethlisberger before, going 3-1 during his 4 game suspension in 2010 proved that. But that was a different club than the one on the field this year. Their defense is still strong, but not quite the same as that 2010 unit. Their lack of a running game hurts them, too. I really don’t see Byron Leftwich or Charlie Batch leading the team to glory over the long haul of the season.
Like some other teams in the league, all the fans in Pittsburgh can do is hold their breath and hope for good fortunes. The football Gods certainly seem to have been on their side in the past, so it isn’t an awful plan.
With Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh is an annual Super Bowl contender. Without him, they’re just another team in a tough, tough division.