PITTSBURGH – Someone said in a popular AM song once that two out of three ain’t bad.
Well, it’s kind of bad when the missing one is your quarterback.
Two out of the three most recent team MVPs are back on the field scrimmaging this week for the Steelers, who missed Troy Polamalu for seven weeks, Antonio Brown for three weeks, and Ben Roethlisberger for two weeks.
Polamalu and Brown are back working with their respective first teams, while Roethlisberger has merely lobbed passes early in the individual portion of practice.
Roethlisberger complained of both pain and a lack of arm strength affter Wednesday’s session. After Thursday’s session he didn’t comment.
“Coach asked me not to say anything,” Roethlisberger said.
But before practice, Roethlisberger provided thoughtful answers to every question. He explained that he can work through the pain, but that his arm strength has yet to return.
“To me it’s (about) ability,” Roethlisberger said. “Can I make a long throw? Can I put a lot of zip on the ball? Throw it really hard before people like Ed Reed and defenders can get to the ball? Because if I can’t I’m not putting this team in the best situation to win the game.”
Roethlisberger explained that the threat of a dislocation of the first rib – the security of which had been compromised by the strained S-C joint and therefore threatened the aorta – has passed, that “it’s stable on the backside, posterior. Obviously you could take a big hit and anything could happen, but from what I understand that aspect of it is OK.”
He also explained that if his arm strength does return in time for the Baltimore game, his shoulder pads have been reinforced with “some protective padding and Kevlar.”
But Roethlisberger was asked if should just consider another week of rest to ensure a greater overall healing process.
“Uh, yeah, I guess you could look at it in that way,” he said. “We’ve had people talk about last year in San Francisco, if I would’ve rested maybe I would’ve been better off the last couple games. But, to me, I live for the here and now and I’m going to do everything I can to be out there, and if it doesn’t work than I’ll do what I can about next week.”
With only one day left to work through the scar tissue and regain his arm strength, it appears unlikely that Roethlisberger will play in Baltimore. So he was asked how much faith the team has in backup Charlie Batch.
“A lot,” Roethlisberger said. “I firmly believe that. They know what he’s capable of, that he’s been doing it a long time. They respect him. I think that they’re ready to rise to the occasion.”
The return of Brown will help Batch rise to the occasion, just as the return of Polamalu will do the same for the defense.
Polamalu finished his second practice of the week without incident and said he intends to play.
“God willing,” Polamalu said. “I’m very excited to get back out on the football field. I’m very excited to get back out here and practice.”
“He looks good to me,” said his partner in the deep patrol, Ryan Clark. “This is the best he’s been since the injury, the most he’s practiced, the most he’s moved. So for me, it’s been all positive.”
Polamalu clearly is not in his typical top condition, but that doesn’t matter to the rest of the team.
“It still means one of the best players in the league is lining up for the Steelers,” said linebacker Larrry Foote. “He’s going to be Troy. He might not be able to run people down like he used to, but he’ll work into it.”
Again, two out of three. Not bad.
(To read the entire transcript of Ben Roethlisberger's interview, click here.)