Last offseason, Ben Roethlisberger was rehabbing from elbow surgery on his throwing arm. As such, he was tossing the pigskin a lot to help rebuild strength.
This year, the Pittsburgh Steelers QB is back to a normal routine, giving his arm more rest. As the Steelers opened training camp, Big Ben said his arm felt "fresher" than in 2020.
"At this time last year, I had thrown thousands of footballs trying to be ready for the season," Roethlisberger said, via the Associated Press. "(Thursday) was the first day I threw a ball since minicamp, other than throwing to my son in the backyard. It feels like more normal of an offseason. I just think that physically I'll feel better in terms of my arm."
After missing most of 2019 due to the elbow injury, Roethlisberger returned to throw for 3,803 yards -- his fewest when playing at least 15 games since 2008 -- with 33 TDs. Partially by design and partly due to his struggles throwing deep, Big Ben averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt, a career-low in seasons in which he played more than two games.
With that fresh arm and a new offense under OC Matt Canada, the Steelers hope Roethlisberger returns to his Pro Bowl ways. The QB admitted that learning the new offense offers a challenge this offseason, but more mental than physical. He noted that he was looking at his wristband "quite a bit" on the first day of camp.
Roethlisberger said he has help at home learning an offense that is "a high percentage of new."
"My daughter makes flash cards for me, and there have been some quizzes at home," Roethlisberger said. "It has become as much of a mental offseason, as physical in terms of learning new things. It's a little tougher, but I'm going into it full-speed ahead and trying to be the best that I can be."
Despite Canada being on the coaching staff last year as quarterbacks coach, the Steelers offense with Canada at OC is expected to inject needed life -- motions, more diverse formations, etc.
"New isn't always bad," a philosophical Roethlisberger said. "It's just new."