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Big Ben 'throwing without pain' for first time in years

Ben Roethlisberger missed all but two games in 2019 due to an elbow injury that required surgery.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that after six months after surgery, he's feeling as fresh as he has in years.

"I have no doubts I'm going to be able to come back and play well -- none," Roethlisberger told Cook. "I have complete confidence in that. I'm throwing without pain for the first time in years. Some games, I would have a little pain. Some games, I would have a lot of pain. But in the New England game and the Seattle game [last season], it got to be too much. To be able to throw without pain now? That feels nice. That's a nice feeling. I know I'm not getting any younger, but I feel younger because I don't have any pain."

Roethlisberger gained clearance to throw in February.

"I had thrown a Nerf ball a little bit before that to my kids in the living room and my arm felt pretty good. I knew it was going to be OK," he said. "But still, it felt so neat to throw a football. It had been a long time. I guess it was like riding a bike a little bit. You get back on and go. It's not like it had been a year. It has been months. I never throw much in the offseason, anyway, so I looked at the time I had off like it was my offseason."

Big Ben said he's throwing about 40 passes a day about 20 yards.

"I'll gradually ramp up the number of days and the throws and the distance and the velocity," he noted. "I really feel like I could let it rip right now if I had to, but what's the point? There's no need for me to rush it. Our goal was for me to be 80, 90, 100% by OTAs and minicamp. Now that it looks like those things are going to be canceled [because of the COVID-19 pandemic], I can take my time a little more."

In the meantime, the 38-year-old quarterback is staying in shape, laughing off claims he gained weight since the elbow injury.

"I've heard people say I'm fat, and that just blows my mind," Roethlisberger said. "I'm lighter and in better shape than I was in either of the past two years. I haven't stopped working out. I normally don't work out in the offseason, but I've been doing everything five days a week with my trainer. Cardio twice a week. Legs twice a week. Upper body twice a week.

"I guess it's my beard that makes me look heavier. I must have five pounds in that, I know. But I'm not overweight."

The Steelers, lost at sea without Big Ben last season, were sunk by inept play from their backup quarterbacks. Getting Roethlisberger good to go by the start of the 2020 season is priority No. 1 in Pittsburgh. It sounds as if that's on track.

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