Thoughts on Ben Roethlisberger’s Partial Rotator Cuff Tear

It’s never easy to read a Ben Roethlisberger injury situation.

We’ve seen him return from what appeared to be a severe ankle injury last year and not miss time after having reconstructive facial surgery before that. But there’s also a long list of injuries that perhaps weren’t all that severe played up by Roethlisberger in an almost Favrian way.

This time, it’s a partial rotator cuff tear in his throwing shoulder that’s generating serious concern from some and casual dismissal from others.

Here’s what Roethlisberger himself had to say about an injury he reportedly suffered last November:

I’m good. It’s OK, just sore,” he said when asked about his arm injury. “I have a little torn rotator cuff. That doesn’t heal. We just have to hope it doesn’t tear the rest of the way, according to Doc,” he said, laughing.

After practice, coach Mike Tomlin said there was no concern about Roethlisberger’s arm and he is not limited in making any throws. But Roethlisberger said he does take some precautions before practice, and not just because of the injury.

“It’s part of getting older, too. If you watch walk-throughs, I used to throw all the time. Now it’s just backing off. Now I don’t ever throw during walk-throughs. It’s less throwing; I think that’s smart anyway. As you get older, you just need to take care of yourself whether you’re hurt or not.”

“It actually feels great,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t have any pains anymore. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get any worse.”

To recap, then, Roethlisberger has a little tear in his rotator cuff that feels great, but is sore. He doesn’t have any pains anymore but he acknowledges it won’t heal. And there’s no concern, really, although his doctor has told him there’s a risk of a full thickness tear. But, really, don’t worry I’m just throwing less because I’m getting old.

I’m getting cute with that last paragraph, obviously. This isn’t new. It is part and parcel of what you get with Roethlisberger – one part drama queen, one part game-day warrior.

In truth, it’s difficult to predict how a partial rotator cuff tear will behave. Depending on the location, some will improve, others will enlarge and some will progress to full thickness tears. It’s not unusual to prescribe observation, symptomatic treatments and rest rather than surgery, as Roethlisberger has had.

Roethlisberger’s statistical performance and on-field play didn’t appear significantly affected late last season and there’s not yet clear reason to be concerned about his 2012 performance. But don’t dismiss the possibility that Roethlisberger will struggle with shoulder pain and weakness this year or the possibility of surgery in the future.

Categories: Injury Updates

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2 replies

  1. Why risk drafting him? The only weakly viable option to even consider him I see is as a QB2 if your QB1 has an early bye. Pittsburgh has the earliest Bye Week (wk 4). Stafford and Romo have Wk 5 Bye’s so he may be a good pair, coming off of his own Bye. I’d only do it, if the value came down to me, and he was passed up by others because of the injury and was still a late value pick.
    The big concern isn’t his pain, obviously he’ll play through pain. I’d be concerned about increasing weakness in that arm, and time off during practice that QB’s and WR’s need for timing.
    Big Ben fights and tends to hang on to the ball. His greatness is in the way he extends plays. I’d cringe every time he has the ball. No thanks.

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