Steelers GM Kevin Colbert: Ben Roethlisberger not ‘at the end of the road’

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Feb. 13 (UPI) — Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert remains optimistic that Ben Roethlisberger will make a full recovery from his elbow injury, saying “all signs are good at this point.”

Roethlisberger, who turns 38 next month, underwent surgery Sept. 23 to repair a season-ending elbow injury that he suffered in Week 2. Colbert didn’t reveal whether the veteran quarterback had Tommy John surgery, but said he remains on schedule in his rehab and has a checkup Feb. 21 in Los Angeles.

“All signs are good at this point, and we’re hopeful that he can make a complete recovery,” Colbert told the team’s official website Thursday. “As of right now, he’s on schedule for that. Where it goes from here remains to be seen.”

Roethlisberger, who was selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, is the last quarterback out of that draft class to remain with his longtime team. Former New York Giants signal-caller Eli Manning announced his retirement from football last month, and veteran gunslinger Philip Rivers agreed to part ways with the Los Angeles Chargers this week.

Colbert believes Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl champion, can still perform at a high level.

“The only correlation is all three players were drafted in the same year,” Colbert said. “Whenever one player moves on or becomes injured, it varies by player. We’re just really focused on where Ben is at this point. Unfortunately, he had a season-ending injury that we think he can and will recover from moving forward. It’s just a wait-and-see.

“He had an injury to his right arm, but other than that, he’s relatively healthy. We’re not minimizing the right arm injury to a right arm quarterback, but we don’t think he’s at the end of the road.”

In Roethlisberger’s absence, the Steelers relied on unproven backup quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges. The team posted an 8-6 record without “Big Ben” and finished outside the postseason with an 8-8 mark.

Despite uneven play from the position throughout last season, Colbert said the Steelers are comfortable with their quarterback room going into training camp this year.

“We have to be realistic,” Colbert said. “[Ben] is a great quarterback who suffered a season-ending injury to his right arm. Optimistically, he is on schedule to return and we hope to return a better Ben than he was previous to the injury. In the meantime, we understand who those backups are.

“We are comfortable with who those backups are. I thought they did a representative job in 2019 under the circumstances.”