Ben Roethlisberger is, at least by his own belief, attempting something never before completed by an NFL quarterback.
Roethlisberger told reporters Tuesday the elbow injury that required season-ending surgery last year wasn't the same as what is commonly seen in the arms of baseball pitchers (which calls for a Tommy John repair). The injury, as Roethlisberger described it, involved tears of three of the five flexor tendons in his elbow, and he believes he is the first quarterback to attempt to come back from such an ailment.
He's returning as a thinner, lighter Roethlisberger, less Big Ben and more Thin Ben. He feels young, "if you can feel young at this age," he said, per NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala. And he's coming back with an eye on championships.
"I still want to win Lombardis," Roethlisberger said, via The Athletic's Ed Bouchette. "And I say that with an 'S' on the end."
Some might scoff at the notion, considering Pittsburgh has missed the postseason in two straight seasons and Roethlisberger isn't exactly getting any younger. But after a year away, Roethlisberger sounded like he'd gained a new appreciation for the game and a fresh desire for on-field success, saying "I can learn that I don't want to watch anymore."
"Any competitor will tell you they want to go out on their own terms and it doesn't happen all the time," he said, via The Athletic's Bouchette. "I didn't feel I was close to that yet. I'm not saying I have 10 years left in me but I really feel I have years left in me."
Exactly how many remains to be seen, but he's returning to a team that added a potentially key target in tight end Eric Ebron, and appears to have filled out its receiving corps for the first time since the departure of Antonio Brown.
There's no need to test his arm to check on his ability to throw, having tossed plenty this offseason, but he will still have a "pitch count" during camp. He said Tuesday he wishes there were preseason games in which he could test his limits, even if Steelers coach Mike Tomlin might not have let him play at all.
He'll have to wait until September for that. There, he'll resume his pursuit of titles -- plural.