Ben Roethlisberger will see his first action of the preseason Sunday night against the Titans. According to Jacob Klinger of PennLive, the last time the Steelers quarterback played before the third preseason game was in 2015 against the Jaguars.
According to Sportsline, he is one of 12 quarterbacks to not see the field until this point in the preseason. They also point out that he should see anywhere between 15-20 snaps on the night, which would be in the range of three or four possessions. Per Steelers Wire, head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t provide an exact number of possessions or snaps for the Pittsburgh signal-caller.
The 37-year-old talked to PennLive about how the anticipation of his first live reps for the 2019 season has gotten his energy up at practice.
“This week of practice has felt a little different. Maybe it’s part being back here, but in part knowing I’m going to get to play a little bit,” Roethlisberger said, referring to the team’s South Side headquarters. “And so I’ve kind of had a little juice, bolt, whatever you want to call it — kind of gets you going.
“So this week’s been exciting so far, knowing you’re gonna get some reps, get out there with the guys and have some fun.”
His targets at wide receiver, including JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer, James Washington and Diontae Johnson, will rotate Sunday night. The plan is for them to find a working rotation schedule in-season, as well.
Roethlisberger is coming off the best statistical season of his career. He threw for 5,129 yards, 34 touchdowns and 16 interceptions as Pittsburgh failed to make the playoffs at 9-6-1. He no longer has star receiver Antonio Brown, who has brought his enigmatic ways to the Raiders after a trade this offseason.
His favorite target figures to be Juju Smith-Schuster, who hauled in 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago.
Ben Roethlisberger Fantasy Outlook
The loss of Brown looms large for Roethlisberger’s fantasy numbers, but it could be positive or negative. Starting with the bad news, CBS Sports doubts that he can continue his gaudy production without one of his key weapons from the last few seasons.
Before Brown boomed in the Steel City, Roethlisberger had one year with over 26 touchdowns and one with over 4,000 yards – and that was when he had guys like Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes! When Roethlisberger walks on the field in 2019, he won’t have Brown (or Le’Veon Bell), but he’ll still have JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner and a number of quality role players (Vance McDonald, Donte Moncrief) and even a breakout candidate (James Washington). Still, replacing a receiver who was responsible for a minimum of 25 percent of Roethlisberger’s yards and 31 percent of his passing touchdowns every year since 2014 is impossible.
Last year saw him generate a pair of 40-point plus outings against the Chiefs and Panthers, as well as two other 30-point plus ones. While the sheer amount of yards and touchdowns may diminish, The Athletic notes that the interceptions should fall, as well.
Brown was targeted 168 times and caught 104 passes, 15 of which went for touchdowns, but there was a lot of bad that came out of it as well.
Out of his 16 picks, 11 came while targeting Brown (most in the NFL since 2013) including four in the red zone. Eight of Roethlisberger’s first 10 picks of the season were targeting Brown, including six in a row in the middle of the season.
The article also mentions an extra emphasis on patience with the ball and not locking eyes with just one receiver. With this in mind, Roethlisberger should be one of the first 12 quarterbacks taken, but not a go-to starter on your draft boards.