Should Ben Roethlisberger Sit Out Preseason, All of Preseason?

It’s certainly a new era in the NFL.

For example, the Pittsburgh Steelers just ended their training camp at St. Vincents in Latrobe, Pennsylvania less than three weeks after the players reported on July 28. That’s a far cry from the yesteryear of Camp Noll, which included six weeks of two-day (and remember, Chuck Noll believed in full contact practices.)  Also, it’s now generally understood that, not only will players of a certain stature (valuable superstars) not play very much in the preseason, in some cases, they’ll sit out entire games.

  • Such was the case last year, when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed the first and last preseason games, while Landry Jones started in his place.
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Ben Roethlisberger sits as Mike Tomlin stands @ Latrobe 2016; Photo Credit: Peter Diana, Post-Gazette

Fast-forward to the 2016 preseason. Not only did Roethlisberger skip Pittsburgh’s first game against the Lions last Friday night at Heinz Field, he was joined on the sidelines by Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams and Maurkice Pouncey.

  • If you thought things would be much different for the Steelers second preseason game, Thursday night at Heinz Field, you’re wrong.

While Pouncey, who missed the entire 2015 regular season after suffering a leg injury in the third exhibition game, may see some preseason action against Philadelphia Eagles, the rest of the aforementioned valuable superstars will get a second week to observe and relax.

“I know what Ben is capable of, I’ve worked with him for a decade now,” explained head coach Mike Tomlin, in his usual pragmatic way as he addressed the media on Tuesday at his weekly press conference:

He showed up in tremendous condition. He’s performed well. He’s obviously a veteran. What’s required for him to be ready to play might be different than others. My job is to give everybody what it is they need to be ready to go. I just believe that the reps are better served to be given to guys like Landry [Jones] and Dustin [Vaughan].

It is true that Mike Tomlin already knows what his star quarterback is capable of, but let’s not kid ourselves. He also knows what his offense isn’t capable of when Ben Roethlisberger is out of the lineup, as evidenced by the struggles the unit endured–specifically the passing game–when he missed four games in  2015 with a sprained MCL.

  • As for the rest of the players on the list, of course everyone knows what Brown, Bell and Williams are capable of and, more importantly, how vital their health is to the success of the offense.

I’m of the opinion that players like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown would be best-served to sit out the entire preseason. If we’re to assume one of the reasons Tomlin has rested his offensive stars thus far is to avoid a serious injury, well, those can happen at any time in these games that don’t count.

  • Do you honestly think it will affect Roethlisberger’s or Brown’s regular season sharpness one bit by not taking reps in the preseason?

Minnestoa Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson has famously not had a carry in the preseason since 2011, yet he’s remained at the top of his profession year-in and year-out.

Does the absence of so many superstars make preseason games a little tougher to sit through? Yes, but the absence of even one or two vital players–particularly a franchise quarterback–often makes regular season games that much tougher to win.

 

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Steelers Concern for Ladarius Green’s Headaches Reveals NFL’s Changing Concussion Culture

Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com, the same Aditi Kinkhabwala who tried to claim she’d predicted the Steelers dismissal of Jack Bicknell and then stone walled when Dejan Kovacevic challenged her on it, dropped another bombshell:

When Heath Miller suddenly retired following the 2015 season, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin didn’t blink an eye and immediately went out and signed Ladarius Green from the San Diego Chargers. The decision to sign Green was uncharacteristic for the franchise, but the move immediately bolstered a weak spot on the depth chart, and freed to Steelers to focus on defense in the 2016 NFL Draft.

  • Since then Ladarius Green has done little except jog during spring practices and at St. Vincents.
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Ladarius Green’s headaches have kept him from practicing, per an NFL.com report. Photo Credit: Associated Press, used on Yahoo! Sports

Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell has been on top of the story, asking early in training camp if the Steelers were facing “Chaos at Tight End” and then upping the ante two weeks into camp by describing the Steelers “Looming Crisis” at tight end. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette followed with a similar story shortly after Wexell published his.

  • The Steelers have claimed on the record that they knew of Green’s ankle injury and even realized that he could possibly begin the season on the PUP.

However, Kinkhabwala’s story, if confirmed, drastically alters the situation with Green.

Aditi Kinkhabwala quotes Green’s agent, Adisa Bakari as saying that Green’s ankle is fine, and reminds readers that Green has been seen sprinting on open fields at St. Vincents.

Impact of NFL’s New Concussion Consciousness

If Kinkhabwala’s report is correct, it carries serious consequences for the Steelers. Matt Spaeth failed a physical and is out of football, leaving Jesse James, David Johnson and Xavier Grimble as the Steelers top three tight ends.

Jesse James looked good as a rookie last year, but he only caught 8 passes, one more than David Paulson, a rookie who “looked good” in 2012 and then flamed out into nothing.

While one might be tempted to gloss over the importance of tight end, the Steelers opened 2013 by starting their number 3 tight end (David Johnson) and went 0-4. Yes, tight end play was only a small part of the 0-4 start, but the Steelers offense didn’t really get humming until Matt Spaeth returned in December.

  • But what’s bad for the Steelers offense, ultimately might confirm that the NFL has turned a corner on concussions.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion during the January 1st 2011 NHL Winter Classic and saw his symptoms linger for more a year beyond the initial event and was characterized several false starts an set backs.

At the time, someone, whose name now escapes memory, reminded everyone that this is not abnormal for people who’ve suffered concussions and questioned why NFL players never missed more than a few weeks with a concussion.

  • According to Eric.O’Connell of Behind the Steel Curtain, Ladarius Green suffered two concussions in 2015 as well as another in 2014.

In the not too distant past, Ladarius Green’s headaches very well would have been met with either an implicit or even explicit pressure to “Tough it out” assuming Green mentioned his headaches to coaches in lieu of keeping them to himself, as Hines Ward suggested Ben Roethlisberger should have done back in 2009.

Neither the Green or the Steelers are going that route, and that is a positive sign of how the NFL’s culture on concussions is changing.

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Senquez Golson’s Lisfranc Injury = 1 Moment a Blogger Begs to Be Wrong

There are times when bloggers want to blast to the world: “I was right.” Then there are times when bloggers beg to have been wrong. Senquez Golson’s Lisfranc injury falls into the latter category.

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Senquez Golson throws his helmet in frustration after his Lisfranc injury; Photo Credit: Chaz Palla, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers set a daunting challenge for themselves during 2016 training camp: Rebuild the secondary on the backs of 4 young and untested in the form of first round pick Artie Burns, second round pick Sean Davis, 2015’s 4th round pick Doran Grant, and 2015’s 2nd round pick Senquez Golson.

As noted when the Steelers signed Artie Burns, Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler and Carnell Lake have gone all in on the youth movement at secondary, trading Antwon Blake, Brandon Boykin and Cortez Allen’s cumulative 82 game appearances, 42 starting performances and 17 interceptions for a grand total of 1 snap of NFL experience.

  • Colbert and Tomlin gambled boldly, but the duo rarely makes personnel decisions based in fear

Fair enough, but four days into training camp Senquez Golson’s Lisfrac injury shows just how thin the Steelers margin of error is. With William Gay and Ross Cockrell, the Steelers should be set at their number 1 and number 2 cornerback positions. The slot remains a mystery. The Steelers had been hoping Golson would emerge as the slot cornerback, which would have given the team greater flexibility manning their Dime defense.

Many outsiders have pegged Davis as the member of the Steelers 2016 draft class most likely to contribute in 2016, giving him an outside chance of unseating incumbent starter Robert Golden. While Davis chances of unseating Golden just took at hit, the probability of him seeing playing time in September just increased exponentially.

Senquez Golson’s Lisfranc Injury Latest Unlucky Twist

The Steelers turned a lot of heads when they picked Golson in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Golson put a lot to like on tape while at Ole Miss, but at his 5’9” frame does not exactly qualify him as a prototypical NFL cornerback.

  • At this point in the young corner’s career, Golson’s same frame suggest fragility.

As Sean Spence showed in 2014, two consecutive injuries hardly spell doom for a promising young player. Spence missed 2012 and then 2013, only to add depth and stability in 2014 and helped author one of the biggest one year-swings in depth chart quality in Steelers history.

Along those lines, a Lisfranc injuries rarely end seasons, as Matt Spaeth and Le’Veon Bell suffered Lisfranc injuries during training camp in 2013 and both returned to post strong season.

  • In other words, fans foaming at the mouth to label Senquez Golson a bust should cool their jets.

Still, a torn rotator cuff ended Senquez Golson’s rookie year, a “mysterious” MRI during Steelers OTA’s, four practices and now a Lisfranc injury will sideline him for at least 12 weeks define Senquez Golson’s NFL resume. Clearly Senquez Golson suffers from an uncanny string of bad luck. And that’s a shame for the Steelers secondary.

Even before his MRI or the the Lisfranc injury, Steel Curtain Rising wondered aloud if Senquez Golson might be this generation’s Kris Farris. Senquez Golson’s lisfranc injury moves that prophecy a notch closer to fulfillment – and Steel Curtain Rising sorely hopes it will move no closer.

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