When Ben Roethlisberger hits the field Monday night against the New York Giants, it will be almost exactly a year since he last played a football game.
"I was driving in today, this was no joke, and crossed the Veterans Bridge and I was thinking to myself, 'Man, I'm actually nervous for this season,'" Big Ben told reporters Wednesday. "You always have a little bit of jitters and nerves for the first game, but the way I feel now is more than I've felt in a very long time. I'm sure it's only going to intensify as the week goes on and then Monday night, I'm sure I'm going to be shaking like a leaf."
Roethlisberger played in two games last season before sitting out the rest of the campaign due to an elbow injury. He attempted just 15 passes in that final start on Sept. 15, 2019, completing eight for 75 yards and no TDs before leaving at halftime and not returning the rest of 2019.
"(I)t's one of those things where you get out there and hopefully it all comes back to me really quick," he said. "There's going to be rust, no doubt about it, but hopefully we can get it knocked off sooner than later. But I think that's what makes it fun. If I wasn't nervous and I didn't have that anxiousness, then I think you shouldn't be out there. There's not a love for the game if you don't have that. I think since I have those nerves already it shows that I still love this game, still passionate for it and I want to go out and win for my teammates, the fans and the city. So I'm not sure how bad it's going to be -- we can talk after the game -- but I'm sure it's going to be pretty different."
Big Ben's injury scuttled the Steelers' season. Pittsburgh just missed out on a playoff spot despite shuffling backup QBs who struggled to move the offense.
Everything we've heard this offseason suggests Roethlisberger is as healthy as he could expect coming off an arm injury, having few practices and no preseason games.
The 38-year-old said, after missing almost an entire season, Monday's season opener will kick off a special campaign.
"I'm going to give this season everything I have, especially because I didn't play last year. This season means a lot to me," he said.