“Ben’s arm is way better than it was last year,” second-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, relating how Big Ben “has cut a few passes loose in workouts and has thrown some nice, tight spirals.”
QB Coach Matt Canada on Ben Roethlisberger
New Steelers quarterbacks coach Matt Canada has been impressed with Roethlisberger’s arm too.
“I was always impressed with the accuracy of Ben,” Canada said yesterday during a video conference call with media on Tuesday. “I think that is what makes him the tremendous player that he is.”
Watching Roethlisberger sling the ball around at Heinz Field early in training camp made Canada think he hasn’t lost any of that famous accuracy.
“He looked the same,” Canada said. “I certainly thought he looked really good [on Monday], and [accuracy] is what sets him apart.”
Ben Roethlisberger Rejuvenated Mentally, Too
It’s not just that Roethlisberger is physically better this season. He’s also more excited about playing football.
Mark Kaboly of The Athletic noted the difference in Roethlisberger’s demeanor in the wake of Big Ben’s group interview with reporters yesterday, saying, “He came across as eager, determined and healthy as he was during his early years, with a renewed vigor that would usually be difficult to muster for a 17-year veteran.”
Diontae Johnson has noticed a difference on the practice field, too.
“He is different this year. He is more excited,” said Johnson. “He is anxious to get on the field and play with us. That makes you want to play for him even more. That is one of the things I have seen from him—him engaging with me more this year. Being able to talk to him and have that connection, we are going to keep building that.”
It makes sense that Roethlisberger is giving Johnson more attention this year. Like everyone else, Roethlisberger saw how Johnson flashed the potential to become a No. 1 receiver—to become the true No. 1 the Steelers haven’t had since the abrupt departure of Antonio Brown.
Johnson caught 59 passes for 690 yards and five touchdowns in 2019, not too shabby, but especially notable considering how the Steelers played almost the entire season with second- and third-string quarterbacks. Moreover, the third stringer, Devlin Hodges, was a rookie undrafted free-agent who was signed for $1,000 after a spring tryout.
Those numbers are even more remarkable when you consider that Johnson played almost all of his rookie year with a sports hernia, which he had repaired during the offseason.
This year Johnson & Co. hope to help Roethlisberger rise a few spots on the all-time wins list. Big Ben has a very realistic short of passing both Dan Marino and John Elway in 2020, which would vault him into the top 5 in terms of career wins.
Roethlisberger is also the favorite to become AP Comeback Player of the Year.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!