Eventually, the amount of times a football player’s body is carved up by a doctor accumulate, and possibly shorten a career. Among quarterbacks, that’s likely true unless your name is Peyton Manning, and you’re susceptible only to kryptonite.
This may someday be a concern for Ben Roethlisberger, the large and surprisingly mobile man who seems to fight through nagging injuries every year, which has resulted in 2008 being the last time he played a full 16-game season. But no worries, he’ll be just fine after this latest surgery. Promise.
The biggest Ben had his right knee poked apart and repaired today to fix some meniscus damage. I still struggle with the concept that any surgery is “minor” mostly because I’m a normal human, and not an NFL human. But there are multiple reasons to believe this company line from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin:
Earlier today, Ben had minor surgery on his right knee that was the result of slight discomfort this offseason. We advised him to get the surgery done to ensure he will be completely healthy for the start of training camp. This surgery will have no long-term effects on his health.
First, there’s the fact that Roethlisberger had the exact same procedure done on his left knee seven years ago, and he missed just four weeks. Despite that significant gap between the two surgeries, needing procedures on both of your knees is always very much the opposite of good, especially for a quarterback who takes a fair bit of punishment. Although the Steelers’ offensive line improved in 2012, Roethlisberger has still been sacked 40 or more times in five of his last seven seasons.
Determining the cumulative effect of these surgeries is impossible without time travel, but it’s just something to keep in mind. Short term, though, this latest surgery was maintenance work, and a sort of fine tuning before training camp. Roethlisberger had participated fully in all eight of the Steelers’ OTA sessions, and a guy who’s really struggling and hurting doesn’t do that.
He remains a fine late-round QB candidate in fantasy drafts, as right now in mocks he’s often coming off the board around 120th overall.
Yes, Mike Wallace is gone, but that only sounds scary. There’s still plenty of vertical speed for Roethlisberger’s chucking pleasure between Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, along with the upside and slot ability of rookie Markus Wheaton. He’ll also have more youth in the form of running back Le’Veon Bell, who should quickly upgrade the Steelers backfield after an uncharacteristic season filled with plodding and struggling, and an average of only 3.7 yards per carry.
He’ll likely do some ho-hum hovering around 200 fantasy points again, a total which sounds poor compared to, say, Tom Brady’s 2012 production (329 fantasy points) until you remember that Roethlisberger can usually be yours about 100 picks later in every draft.