Even the largest Ben Roethlisberger supporters have to be able to admit that the way he looks at the beginning of training camp is often far different from the way looks when the season ends.
Any of us past the age of 30 can attest to the fact that staying fit gets harder. Roethlisberger appears to be no exception. He often enters camp fresh from his offseason workout program in Arizona looking as thin and in-shape as he did 10 years ago.
I was told this weekend that there is genuine concern inside the organization about his weight and physical conditioning as the season wears on and it’s been an issue for several years now.
Having him expel lots of energy in the days between games to stay in shape creates a thin line. Do you get his 33 year old body the rest it needs or do you push him in an effort to stay lighter?
His new contract is worth $99 million dollars but can go to $108 million based on incentives. In most cases, these are tied to on-field performance but can also include how a player does during the season in terms of working out and staying at a certain weight.
This is by no means a knock on Roethlisberger as he is far from being the first person or professional athlete to deal with weight problems. That said, if you look at his play you don’t see a ton of difference but there are two areas where the team is most concerned.
One is with the deep ball and the other is his ability to escape the rush. In 2014, he was sacked 33 times but 12 of those came in the final five games and then he was sacked five times in the playoff loss to Baltimore.
Obviously not every sack is on him. The offensive line struggled late in the season and the team was without Le’Veon Bell in the playoff game but his ability to move in the pocket has long been one of his greatest assets.
If the incentives are indeed aimed at him staying in better shape then he and the team benefit. Big Ben has already proven how great he can be as he comes off of one of his best statistical seasons, but can he be better by staying lighter?
There are certainly those who think so.
photo courtesy pittsburgh.cbslocal.com