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Is Ben Roethlisberger Playing on Borrowed Time?

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bill-swift - August 3, 2012

As Ben Roethlisberger goes, so go the Pittsburgh Steelers. When they had to do without him for four games in 2010 they went 3-1, but that was due in large part to an easy schedule, a solid running game, and a killer defense. With that stretch in mind, it could be argued that the team could very well win without him, but does anyone really want to find out?

If the line doesn't block and Big Ben is not careful, the Steeler Nation could very well find out what life without Roethlisberger is like. He's been dealing with a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder since last November.

When asked about his shoulder after a recent practice he was pretty nonchalant about the extent of the injury and appeared largely unconcerned:

I'm good. It's OK, just sore. 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. It actually feels great. I don't have any pains anymore. Let's just hope it doesn't get any worse.

For it not to get worse he'll have to keep from getting hit as much as he can. That will be easier said than done. Last season the offensive line struggled to protect their QB giving up 42 sacks on the year (9th most) and 77 hits (14th most), and that's being generous. His knack for scrambling and fighting through hits is legendary.

Should he land on his injured shoulder the wrong way or take one too many hits to it, there is a chance that his partial tear worsens. It could mean nothing; the tear may not be that bad right now anyway, and it is possible to play with a torn rotator cuff. It's just extremely painful. It would not be the first time that Ben Roethlisberger has played through pain..

However, should the injury worsen it could very well be the beginning of the end. Rotator cuff injuries have been described as being similar to cancer for guys that make their living throwing things. Several players have seen their careers come to a premature end because of rotator cuff injuries (i.e. Kelly Holcomb, Chad Pennington, Jim Miller, Tim Couch).

Once issues with the rotator cuff begin they do not go away easily. They take a long time to heal, with or without surgery. Some players are never able to play like they once did. So keep that ankle healthy and practice your scrambling Ben. It could mean your career.

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