Big Ben: Right foot injury 'doing really good'
Losing in the Super Bowl isn't the only pain Ben Roethlisberger has had to overcome this offseason.
The Steelers quarterback said a broken foot hobbled him so much toward the end of last season that "there were times during practice and games where I didn't feel like I'd be able to walk."
The good news, Roethlisberger said, is his right foot — he broke a bone in it and later aggravated the injury — has almost fully healed and that the NFL lockout has allowed the eighth-year veteran to rest it more than usual.
The potentially unsettling news for Roethlisberger and the Steelers: There is a chance he may need surgery on his foot at some point, an option Roethlisberger considered after last season.
"I could have had surgery, but according to the doctors it would have been a really nasty process because of where the break was. It was better off trying not to do anything," Roethlisberger told the Tribune-Review on Friday. "It's going to be something where we're just going to have to, in essence, play it by ear. If it continues to be as painful as it was at the end of last year, then I'm going to probably have to have the surgery."
But, Roethlisberger added, "It's doing really good. It's healed up. Obviously, it helps when I'm not cutting and planting and doing all of these different activities. It's really come a long way. I haven't had too many problems with it recently."
Roethlisberger reinjured his right foot late last November at Buffalo. He wore a cleat fitted with two metal plates for the rest of the season, and that included practices as well as games.
That was one of several injuries Roethlisberger played through in 2010, when he came back from a four-game suspension to throw for 3,200 yards, 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions while leading the Steelers to Super Bowl XLV.
The 31-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers still lingers for Roethlisberger, especially since the Steelers got the ball back late in the game but could only manage one first down before turning the ball over on downs.
Roethlisberger said time has helped take away some of the sting from the loss. But, Roethlisberger added, he still has "a lot of what-ifs."
"I don't know if it will ever really go away," he said, "unless you can get back and win one."
Roethlisberger has used the lockout to rest his arm and foot, but he hasn't exactly been idle. He organized and led several de facto practices away from Steelers headquarters. Roethlisberger also has worked on holding the ball higher before he throws a pass.
Roethlisberger instituted that change last season, and he said the tweak in his technique shortened his throwing motion and alleviated some of the strain on his right arm.
"I want to continue to do that because I felt like it made me a better passer and also helped protect my elbow," Roethlisberger said.
The offseason has been a slow one — so much so that one of the more magnified stories has been LaMarr Woodley predicting Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco won't win a Super Bowl because of the Steelers.
"I keep trying to tell him, 'You've got to stop that because they don't hit you, they come take it out on me,'" Roethlisberger said with a laugh.
What may be just as amusing to Roethlisberger, or at least the Steelers, is that in a recent poll of the top 100 players in the NFL, Roethlisberger came in at No. 41. One of only 10 quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls, Roethlisberger had six QBs ranked ahead of him in the poll conducted by the NFL Network and voted on by active players.
"He doesn't fit the mold of a Peyton Manning or (Tom) Brady, but he wins games," Steelers right tackle Willie Colon said. "If you ask any star player in the NFL that knows about Ben Roethlisberger, that's played against him, he has that 'it' factor."