Yesterday the Pittsburgh Steelers held their first padded practice of training camp. It was also the first time anyone outside the Steelers organization has had a chance to see quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throw a football since he had elbow surgery last September.
We have received reports from inside the organization. Back in May wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster pronounced Roethlisberger “back.” And during the first week of August head coach Mike Tomlin revealed what he has seen in terms of Roethlisberger’s spiral and velocity.
But longtime Steelers beat writer Mark Kaboly—who has watched Big Ben in practice and games for 17 years—said Roethlisberger’s delivery looks “different” now.
‘Reminds Me of Philip Rivers’ Delivery’
In a new ‘10 Observations’ article for The Athletic, Kaboly said he fixated on Roethlisberger during practice and noted that he “threw the ball with some nice velocity, and his spiral looked as tight as ever even though Tomlin said a couple weeks ago that Roethlisberger’s spirals weren’t as tight as he’d like them to be.”
But watching from the front row of the lower bowl at Heinz Field, Kaboly said it appeared to him—“especially later in practice on some deep balls—that Roethlisberger was short-arming his passes.”
“I would say that a good bit of his throw was a motion with which he did not follow through completely. It was sort of like a whip action. It reminded me a bit of Philip Rivers’ delivery,” concluded Kaboly, referring to the longtime Chargers quarterback who is now with the Indianapolis Colts.
‘What Does This Mean?’
As Kaboly noted, a different delivery could mean nothing, really.
“It could mean that Roethlisberger is still working through his throwing motion”—still healing and loosening up—“and eventually will get back to where he was pre-injury,” he said.
“Or it could be that he was forced to alter his throwing motion to compensate for the surgery. Typically, the short-arming of any throw isn’t good. It could lead to inaccuracy, especially on the longer throws,” concluded Kaboly.
Regardless, it bears watching as training camp moves along and the team begins the regular season.
It’s also worth noting, though, how Steelers second-year receiver Diontae Johnson recently said that Roethlisberger’s arm looks way better than last year. That suggests that Big Ben is already better off compared to where he was a year ago, when his elbow was already causing him significant discomfort.
Ben Roethlisberger to Chase Claypool
Also worth watching at training camp is the seemingly rapid development of second-round draft pick Chase Claypool, who hauled in a goal-line fade from Roethlisberger over a “cornerback who will be left unnamed,” said Kaboly, a TD catch that caught the attention of Claypool’s teammates on offense.
In all likelihood that unnamed cornerback was Joe Haden, because after practice Haden took to Twitter, going on record with a prediction that Chase Claypool ‘is going to be a problem’ for NFL defenses.
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