“Yeah, this is a bigger deal than they have let on and it’s something that sources tell me is trending in the wrong direction,” said La Canfora.
“When he first brought it up a couple weeks ago, they thought maybe it was something mild and that if he stopped practicing or was limited in practice that they could kinda get it under control. But that hasn’t been the case. It’s been an issue in practice and in games. It continues to bother him,” added La Canfora.
Ben Roethlisberger’s Knee Issues Date Back to Cowboys Game
You may recall that Roethlisberger missed both of the team’s practices leading up to the Washington game on December 7th and was listed as “questionable” to play in that contest, having been limited to the team’s day-before-the-game walkthrough.
In recent weeks, Roethlisberger has also been “limited” in select practices, though his knee problems appear to date back to the first half of the November 8th game at Dallas, when he was whiplashed by two Cowboys defenders and suffered discomfort in both knees, but one knee in particular.
Yet Roethlisberger missed just a handful of plays at the end of the first half against Dallas and returned to play the entire second half.
“Someone hit me right on the side of the knee and it felt like it kinda bent my knee a little bit,” said Roethlisberger immediately after that contest, before insisting that it wouldn’t be an issue going forward.
But it was an unsettling looking hit, and looking back at it, it’s easy to see how it could have led to lingering knee issues:
Steelers Offense ‘In Crisis’?
Not surprisingly, Jason La Canfora went on to indicate that Pittsburgh’s coaching staff wants to run the ball more—and pass a whole lot less—in the final four weeks of the season.
“Ben is his own worst enemy on some of this as well because I continue to be told by people in that organization that they don’t have intentions of throwing the football 50 times every week,” he added, noting that Roethlisberger has a lot of autonomy at the line of scrimmage and is able to check out of runs into passes.
“[Roethlisberger]’s thrown the most passes in the NFL this year and he’s attempted 196 passes in the past four weeks and they have not called 196 pass plays. That’s gotta change; coaches have told him that has to change,” emphasized La Confora, noting that the Steelers are averaging less than six yards per [pass] attempt in the past four games and “there is definitely a sense within that organization that that offense might be a little bit in crisis mode.”
Maurkice Pouncey, James Conner to Return Against Bills
On the plus side, the Steelers are expected to get several mission-critical players back for Sunday night’s game at Buffalo, those being starting center Maurkice Pouncey and No. 1 running back James Conner, both of whom have been activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 list in recent days.
But even with Pouncey and Conner, Pittsburgh’s running game has thrived only intermittently this season.
“The dirty little secret is they are only averaging 3.7 [yards] per carry. They are in the bottom third of the league,” concluded La Confora.
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