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Steelers' Roethlisberger downplays knee surgery

| Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 2:15 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with coach Mike Tomlin talk during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

The Steelers' time frame for Ben Roethlisberger's recovery from right knee surgery? Six weeks. Roethlisberger's time frame? One week.

Training camp doesn't start until July 26, but the Steelers quarterback already is in hurry-up mode.

“Absolutely,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday when asked if he would be ready for camp. “I honestly think I could go next week if I had to.”

Roethlisberger categorized the June 5 surgery as a clean-up rather than a repair — ligament repair likely would have taken months of recovery. Roethlisberger first had a cartilage clean-up operation during the 2005 season, his second in the league, and he came back to lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl win over Seattle.

“It was just general wear and tear,” Roethlisberger said of the latest surgery. “It's my right leg, my plant leg, so every time I drop back I put pressure on it. There's probably a lot of quarterbacks' right knees (that) are banged up a little.”

The knee began to bother him again last season, when he missed three games with a shoulder/upper-chest injury. When the discomfort extended into the recent organized team activity workouts, Roethlisberger decided to have the operation rather than wait until after offseason practices conclude this week.

“People said, ‘Why not earlier?' ” Roethlisberger said. “Well, we wanted to try and see if we could manage. I'd come in on Tuesday to practice (during the three weeks of OTAs), and it would feel good, and by Thursday it was almost like a tire was slowly losing air.

“It kind of hurt me on Thursday. We figured it was time to get it done. The doctors agreed and said, ‘Let's do it now.' ”

Roethlisberger is off crutches and walking normally, though he is missing the three-day minicamp that began Tuesday. He said it's difficult to tell if the discomfort is gone because the operation was only a week ago, but he said orthopedist Dr. James Bradley told him the operation “went really well.”

“My knee is in great shape,” Roethlisberger said. “They took care of the little problem.”

Backup Bruce Gradkowski is taking most of the snaps that Roethlisberger normally would.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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