Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger

Preseason

Chance of Injury in 2020: question mark 75%
Chance of Injury per Game: question mark 8.3%
Projected Games missed for 2020: question mark 3.9
Durability: question mark 9

Very High Risk

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Ben Roethlisberger Player Overview

"Big Ben" Roethlisberger is currently 38 years old. Born in Lima, Ohio, he was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball. Surprisingly Roethlisberger did not play quarterback in high school until his senior year, instead he played wide receiver (the coach's son was the QB).

Roethlisberger attended Miami University of Ohio and redshirted his first season. In 2001, Roethlisberger started to break multiple school records in an impressive freshman campaign. In his sophomore and junior campaigns, Roethlisberger continued to be an offensive beast.

By the end of his collegiate career, Roethlisberger threw for 10,829 yards, 80 touchdowns, and just 23 interceptions. He entered the NFL Draft in 2004 after completing his junior season.

The 2004 draft saw Roesthisberger go as the 11th overall pick. He would later join four quarterbacks taken in Round 1, including Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, and J.P. Losman.

Roethlisberger would begin his rookie season third on the depth chart but would finish the season as the starter. He would lead the Steelers to an impressive 14-0 record, including playoffs, taking the Steelers to the AFC championship game and losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

In 2005, just his second season, Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl at 23 years old.

Roethlisberger would miss the first game of the 2006 season as he required an emergency appendectomy surgery. Additionally, Roethlisberger had suffered multiple severe injuries in an off-season motorcycle crash, which could have been detrimental to his career, but thankfully he got lucky.

Roethlisberger is a Hall of Fame quarterback ready to go in, five years after he retires. His accolades speak for themselves, as he has been to the Pro-Bowl six times, 2004 Rookie of the Year, and has been part of two Super Bowl-winning teams (XL and XLIII).

For the most part, Roethlisberger has been able to stay quite healthy his entire career. In 256 possible games, Roethlisberger has played 218 and started 216 contests. Not quite the Iron Man that Eli Manning or Matt Stafford have been, but he's known to play through injuries and has been quite sufficient.

Roethlisberger has had six seasons of 4,000+ yards seasons, three with 30+ touchdowns and has averaged a completion rate of 64 percent. In sum, the mammoth quarterback has compiled 56,545 yards, 363 tds, and just 191 interceptions.

Roethlisberger has always enjoyed good-to-great protection. When the pocket is clean, he excels, as he has recorded more "big-time" throws in a clean pocket with 42 in 2018, according to PFF.

Adding to Roethlisberger's pocket awareness is his quick release. He has always been capable of making all the throws on the field. According to PFF, the Steelers offensive line was a top-10 unit heading into 2019, even though the offense struggled mightily, and the pass blocking was third in the NFL, putting up an 81.6 pass-blocking grade.

The beginning of the 2019 season saw Roethlisberger sign a two-year $68 million contract extension, keeping him under contract through the 2021 season.

Even at the start of the 2019 season, Roethlisberger was not as good as he was in 2018 when he led the Steelers with 34 TDs, 5,129 yards, a 67% completion rate, and just 16 INTs. Then in Week 2 of the 2019 season, Roethlisberger injured his right throwing elbow.

"Big Ben" would be subsequently diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his elbow, ending his season. The only way to fix the ligament is to have reconstructive surgery, commonly known as Tommy John surgery. To learn more about this surgery, click here.

Just after the injury, John Mishock, PT, DPT, DC, wrote a very informative article for www.Pottsmerc.com where he discussed Tommy John injuries in football quarterbacks, and the rarity compared to baseball players.

The article discusses how elbow injuries in football players are uncommon, with 92% of them as traumatic, either suffering from a contusion or dislocation.

In a study of NFL quarterbacks from 1994 to 2008, with over 7,168 games played, only one quarterback required Tommy John surgery. In contrast, something like over 60% of all baseball pitchers in the MLB today has undergone Tommy John surgery.

The main reason for reduced elbow injuries in football players compared to baseball pitchers is because they use different biomechanics for their throwing motion, specifically the wrist and forearm position. When the quarterback throws the football with a neutral location of the forearm, it decreases the tensile strength of the UCL. On the contrary, a fastball in baseball is thrown in a supinated (palm is facing upward or outward) position, increasing the stress on the UCL significantly.

Reviewing the video of Roethlisberger's injury reveals that as a result of avoiding a pass rusher, he threw the ball with a sidearm release, which significantly increases the stress on the UCL.

Traditionally baseball pitchers take approximately 13 months on average to return to the field, sometimes up to 19 months, depending on timing and setbacks. Since this injury is so rare in NFL quarterbacks, there is minimal data to use as a comparison. Roethlisberger will have almost a full year after the injury and subsequent surgery to return to the field.

As of late March, Roethlisberger was throwing approximately 40 throws a day at about a 20 yard distance, and he stated that this was the first time throwing the ball without pain in years. A statement meaning that he had been dealing with ulnar collateral ligament damage for many years, and this sidearm throw was likely the 'straw that broke the camel's back.' Here’s a video of him throwing recently post-surgery.

In 2020, Roethlisberger has several weapons we can utilize. Wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and potentially underrated rookie Chase Claypool. Not to mention Eric Ebron as a free agent. The running game should also return to semi-normal. James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, and rookie Anthony McFarland will all contribute.

His offensive line remains largely intact with Alejandro Villanueva, Stefen Wisniewski, Maurkice Pouncey, and David DeCastro, and Matt Feiler. A long time unit, even though Wisniewski comes over from Kansas City. Ramon Foster has decided to retire. Pittsburgh drafted Kevin Dotson in the fourth round to compete with Wisniewski. The team runs a zone hybrid scheme.

2020 will most likely turn into more of a running game for the Steelers. Pittsburgh used two-tight sets a lot last season, and this could continue, as extra protection for Roethlisberger and give him a dump-off option.

At Roethlisberger’s age and injuries expect a downturn in production. A good comparison would be his 2017 season when he threw for 4,251 yards and 28 touchdowns as his ceiling.

Final Prognosis:

Sports Injury Predictor calculates that Roethlisberger has a 41.5% chance of injury in 2020, elevated for a QB, which translates to a 3.3% chance of injury per game. Roethlisberger is an elevated risk. He has a decent durability score as we have come to know that Big Ben always plays banged up. My injury risk for Roethlisberger is lower side heading into the 2020 season, 3.5 out of 10.

As for his injury prognosis, there should be very little concern over Roethlisberger's elbow going forward. It was an unfortunate injury, but his elbow is now fully reconstructed, and he should be able to throw pain-free. Roethlisberger could be more accurate and have more strength (more 'zip') than we have seen from him for the past several years, despite being 38 years old.

Roethlisberger is old, slow, and coming off another injury. Pittsburgh likes to run two TE-sets (12 personnel) and with the addition of McFarland look for the Steelers to utilize the ground game more than the previous seasons. Roethlisberger is intriguing anywhere in the QB15-18 range.

Injury Risk: Low. 3.5/10.

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Ben Roethlisberger Injury History

Date League Injury Details
Sep 15, 2019 NFL Arm Elbow Tear Roethlisberger suffered an elbow injury in Week Two against the Seattle Seahawks. He had surgery and he is expected back for the 2020 season
Dec 9, 2018 NFL Chest Rib Fracture Roethlisberger didn't miss any games, despite dealing with cracked ribs.
Oct 16, 2016 NFL Knee Meniscus Tear Big Ben missed just 1 game following surgery.
Jan 9, 2016 NFL Shoulder A/C Joint Sprain Roethlisberger had an AC sprain with torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder, yet he missed 0 games.
Nov 29, 2015 NFL Head Cranial Concussion Grade 1 Roethlisberger was concussed late in the 4th quarter. He suited up the following week.
Nov 8, 2015 NFL Pedal Foot Sprain Big Ben sprained his left foot but returned to play the following week.
Sep 27, 2015 NFL Knee MCL Sprain Grade 2 Roethlisberger took a sack at an awkward angle and had to be carted off the field.
Sep 29, 2013 NFL Hand Finger Dislocation In Week 4, Big Ben dislocated his right index finger but continued playing.
Nov 12, 2012 NFL Chest Rib Separation Roethlisberger separated his throwing shoulder and dislocated a rib vs. Kansas City.
Nov 12, 2012 NFL Shoulder S/C Joint Separation Big Ben dislocated a joint in his shoulder against the Chiefs, causing him to miss the next three weeks.
Aug 4, 2012 NFL Pedal Ankle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1 Ben sprained an ankle when an offensive lineman stepped on him.
Dec 8, 2011 NFL Pedal Ankle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1 Roethlisberger sprained his left ankle around halftime against the Browns in Week 14 but returned for the second half.
Nov 13, 2011 NFL Hand Thumb Fracture Roethlisberger didn't miss a snap in Week 10 action vs. the Bengals.
Oct 2, 2011 NFL Pedal Foot Sprain In Week 4 against the Texans, Roethlisberger suffered a foot sprain but played through it.
Dec 5, 2010 NFL Head Nose Fracture Big Ben didn't miss a snap despite his injury.
Nov 28, 2010 NFL Pedal Foot Fracture What was first thought of as a sprain turned out to be a foot fracture for Big Ben. He played the following week and didn't miss any game time.
Nov 22, 2009 NFL Head Cranial Concussion Grade 1 Roethlisberger missed 1 game with his concussion.
Aug 20, 2009 NFL Pedal Achilles Pull Grade 1 Big Ben suffered a pulled achilles against the Bengals in the preseason and missed Week 1 as a result.
Oct 22, 2006 NFL Head Cranial Concussion Grade 1 Ben took a nasty helmet to helmet hit from Chauncey Davis.