My photos of Ben Roethlisberger at Saturday’s practice at Saint Vincent College. Note the ice wrapped around the outside of his left ankle, above.
LATROBE, Pa. — Near the end of a two-hour practice Saturday, during which his arm had been nearly as hot as the scorching heat, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hurt his left foot or ankle again.
At first it appeared serious.
But following practice, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that that is not the case.
“He’s fine. Somebody stepped on his foot,” Tomlin said.
Roethlisberger dropped back and lofted a perfect pass, from the left hash, to a streaking wideout on a fade to the right. The receiver caught it in stride in the back corner of the end zone.
Immediately thereafter, we saw Roethlisberger stumble backward and make a demonstrative grimace, reaching for his left foot or ankle as if it were seriously injured. He quickly hobbled off the field, trying not to put any weight on his left leg.
He sat down on a cart, where a trainer wrapped an ice pack around the outside of his left ankle.
A few minutes later, Roethlisberger limped over to the sidelines to cheer on the offence in goal-line reps. There, Roethlisberger joked with someone and did not appear to be in any great discomfort or pain.
He hobble-jogged onto the field with his teammates after the horn sounded to end practice, as rain began to drench them and thousands of yellow-and-black-clad fans at Saint Vincent College.
It is the same foot the 6-foot-5, 241-pound quarterback hurt last December, when he severely limped his way through the last month of the season on a high ankle sprain.
Steelers fans must be wondering if Roethlisberger is just snake-bitten with injuries, in this his ninth season.
Earlier this week, Roethlisberger revealed that he is playing with a partial tear of the rotator-cuff muscle in his right throwing arm, an injury that occurred against Baltimore last season.
“You didn’t see any drop-off in my play last year throwing the ball, and you haven’t seen it yet,” he said Wednesday. “No one would have known about it if I hadn’t talked about it today. (It’s) a non-issue … I’m just fine.”
He looked fantastic Saturday — the best quarterback work I saw on my seven-team, nine-day tour of NFL training camps, which concluded Saturday.
In 11-on-11s, in 7-on-7s and in one drill in which receivers went against defensive backs, Roethlisberger was scintillatingly accurate. The DBs were getting frustrated, as they seldom got a hand on any balls thrown not only by Roethlisberger, but also by backup Byron Leftwich.
“Our quarterbacks are awesome right now,” safety Troy Polamalu told me after practice. “It’s been really tough for us to get any turnovers on defence.
“It’s tough, because you’ve got to practise getting turnovers, but they don’t give you many opportunities.”
Steelers fans just hope Roethlisberger is healthy enough to keep denying his own defence — and soon other NFL clubs’ defences — those opportunities.
Steelers players want ‘what’s best’ for holdout Wallace: Polamalu
LATROBE, Pa. — The player who wasn’t at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training-camp practice on Saturday still is prominent on the minds of his teammates and fans alike.
Star wide receiver Mike Wallace is holding out.
A restricted free agent who received no offers from other clubs, Wallace has yet to sign the Steelers’ RFA tender of $2.7 million. He’s demanding a long-term deal from the club, and the club so far hasn’t budged.
“Of course we want what’s best for Mike and his family, first and foremost, because that’s what life’s all about,” Steelers safety Troy Polamalu told me after practice at Saint Vincent College.
“And also we hope there’s a speedy resolution so that he can get here.”
By all reports, and personal observation on Saturday, there are no new or backup receivers yet capable of stepping up and making an impact besides the top-line trio of Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery.
But although Polamalu wasn’t referring to Wallace when he said this, it’s something Wallace needs to consider in deciding when to end his holdout and get to training camp:
“When you’ve got a quarterback throwing the ball on the money like we do right now, it’s kind of irrelevant who his receivers are.”
Steelers’ Canadian kicker tunes media out
LATROBE, Pa. — Pittsburgh Steelers placekicker Shaun Suisham has developed an odd but effective way to help him concentrate.
“I live in my own — uh, I guess you could call it ignorant bliss,” Suisham, an eight-year NFL veteran from Canada, told me Saturday before the Steelers’ afternoon practice at Saint Vincent College.
“I don’t read ANYTHING. I have no idea what’s going on in the outside sports world — NO idea. And it helps me.
“I focus on what I’m doing, how I can become better and improve, and getting ready for the season … It took a couple of years to develop that focus.”
He’s not exactly living a lifelong dream, either. Suisham grew up in the Southwestern Ontario town of Wallaceburg, loving hockey and soccer.
His uncle, the football coach at Wallaceburg District Secondary School, practically had to drag him kicking and screaming to the football field.
“Even in my fifth year — which I’m glad you understand what that is, so I don’t have to go into the whole explanation — I had no aspiration or interest to play football in university or college, either in Canada or the United States.”
But he could boot the hell out of the ball, once making a 58-yarder in a game. In November 1999 his uncle and parents finally convinced him to send out his highlights tape to U.S. college recruiters. Two months later, he was enrolled at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
A placekicker he was.
Unlike many of his brethren, Suisham actually looks the part of an NFLer. He’s a trim and athletic-looking 6-footer, weighing 205 pounds.
Suisham bounced between the Cowboys, 49ers and Redskins before joining the Steelers in November 2010.