Q&A: Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger limped noticeably through the Steelers' locker room on his way to his weekly Wednesday press conference. He doesn't expect to play Sunday, and isn't sure about the following week.

BEN ROETHLISBERGER

How are you feeling, Ben?
I'm doing OK. I'm doing OK. I just got off the crutches for the first time today so it feels good to get up and walk around a little bit. I feel like a normal human being again.

What was it like staying home and watching the game Sunday?
That was the toughest thing for me. It's one thing to stand on the sideline and watch the game, like Jacksonville; it's different to watch it on TV and see my guys out there knowing you're not with them. It was tough to watch but we got the win. That was the most important thing.

Did you watch it by yourself?
I watched with a couple of buddies.

Will you watch from the sideline this week?
Yeah, as long as coach lets me. I assume I will be.

How did Charlie Batch look?
Charlie looked good. He went out there and knocked the rust off early. I thought we looked good as a team. We probably didn't play as well as we wanted to play, but from watching on TV I thought we did a good job.

Is Baltimore the target for your return?
We're taking it one day at a time right now. I don't know. I'm not going to say, yes, I'm playing this game, or, no, I'm not. We're just going to go one day at a time and hope we continue to feel day by day.

Is your recovery on schedule so far?
I think we're doing real well. I think we're a little ahead of schedule right now. I'm walking around and I actually can get on a bike and pedal around in a circle a little bit, so that's good. Like I said, we're going to take it one day at a time.

How tough was it for you to go ahead with the surgery?
It was tough. It was one of those things where my knee actually felt better that week, and then coach called me and said, ‘Let's just get it over with. Let's do it because who knows when or what game it could get bad again.' It was tough but looking back on it I'm glad we got it out of the way.

Were you worried you might hurt it more in a later game?
I wasn't real concerned with hurting it and making myself worse. I was more worried about maybe later on in the season making it worse and I wouldn't be there for the playoffs. So the thing was, let's not wait for the end of the season; let's get it over with now so I'll definitely be there for the playoffs.

As you walk around now, what are you feeling?
A little bit of pain. I'm working on straightening it, bending it, because my range of motion isn't what it should be yet, so really (I'm) just trying to take it slow and do anything to hurt it worse.

What's the rehab process now?
The big thing is every day we test the range of motion; how far can I bend it? You're icing the stuff so it's always bent, so the key is to make sure we always keep it straight. Today we put a sleeve on it to keep it dry. We got in the water, walked around in the water real good, so that felt good, and every day doing exercises just to strengthen it.

Can you straighten it outside the water?
Not all the way -- pretty close. The big thing is we're trying to get it to bend and straighten it all the way.

Are you confident about being back for next week? Is that your goal at this point?
Like I said, we're going to go day-by-day. My goal is to try and get out and see what I can do this week. I've been on the bike and riding it slowly. If I can get to the to riding the bike faster at the end of the week and maybe try and get out there and run around a little bit next week. If I can do that, then we'll make a shot for Baltimore. If not, we'll see how Indy goes.

Will this crop up again? Or did the surgery prevent that from happening?
I'm not a doctor, but from what they told me, once it's better my knee should feel a lot better than it ever did. From the first game on it was very painful. I was just playing through the pain. They say I shouldn't I feel any pain now so hopefully I'll be able to play with no pain in my knee for the first time in a long time.

Why did you not want the surgery?
Because I didn't want to miss any games. That was the big thing for me: I didn't want to miss any games for these guys. I'd been playing through the pain so far and I figured I could keep doing it, keep playing with these guys and try to make a playoff run, but coach and myself and the doctor sat down and we really talked about it. I thought long and hard about it and thought, you know, the best time is to do it now.

Are you happy with your decision?
Now that I look back on it, I am happy with my first surgery I've ever had. So I am happy now that we got it done and out of the way because now, hopefully, I can be 100 percent in my right knee.

Did you ever think your knee could get this much attention?
Well, after the motorcycle incident and all those other things I figured it probably could.

Will you try to practice later this week?
I'll say it again: We're going one day at a time. If all of the sudden we start feeling so much better that I can start running around – because right now I can barely walk without a limp – so all of the sudden if I can sprint tomorrow then I'll practice, but I don't think it's going to happen so we'll see how it goes.

When you're home, how do you like to watch an NFL game?
I don't like to watch my team play but I was sitting there yelling and screaming. I was yelling guys' names, telling them good job, and I was seeing some things that were going on. It was kind of interesting. I'm sure the people that were watching it with me were entertained by my antics.

Did you get the chips and beer out?
No, we ate pizza and wings.

How do you ride a motorcycle with crutches?
I haven't yet.

Have you been hearing from fans?
Yeah, I get a lot of support and I appreciate it from all the fans. It's great, the love and support that I get. People tell me to hurry and get back. I saw one guy – I was on crutches two days ago – he asked me if I was going to be ready to play in the Cleveland game. I told him unfortunately probably not. But I do appreciate all the support that I've got from the fans. I'm going to try and get back as soon as I can for them as well.

Is it humbling?
It's nice to know you have all the love and support from the fans. I really appreciate it because it means a lot.

Do you have to keep your competitive juices in check to not push this?
Definitely. I wanted to get out there and play this past weekend. I'm going to want to play this weekend. I'm not going to be able to, but the thing I have to realize is I don't want to hurt this team. If I go out there right now, I could probably get by, but I would hurt the team rather than help them. My thing is I have to know when am I finally helping the team rather than hurting them.

Did it occur to you that you were watching a player who hasn't missed a game since 1992?
To be able to play that many games, not only are you tough but you're incredibly lucky. He was truly blessed. I was sitting there watching and thinking, dang, it's only my second year and I'm already sitting out a game. So it was tough but I'm going to do my best not to let it happen again.


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