PITTSBURGH — Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is optimistic that Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab is going in the right direction and said he doesn’t think the veteran quarterback “is at the end of the road.”
Roethlisberger, who will turn 38 next month, had surgery on Sept. 23 to repair a season-ending elbow injury he suffered in Week 2. Colbert would neither confirm nor deny that Roethlisberger had Tommy John surgery, but said he remains on track in his rehab and has a check-up in Los Angeles on Feb. 21.
“All signs are good at this point, and where that goes, we’re hopeful he can make a complete recovery,” Colbert said. “As of right now, he’s on schedule for that. Where it goes from here remains to be seen.”
Roethlisberger is the last remaining quarterback drafted in 2004 with his original team after Eli Manning’s retirement earlier this year and Philip Rivers’ departure from the Chargers, but Colbert believes that Roethlisberger is still a valuable asset.
“He had an injury to his right arm, but other than that, he’s relatively healthy,” Colbert said. “We’re not minimizing the right-arm injury to a right-arm quarterback, but we don’t think he’s at the end of the road.”
Without Roethlisberger for most of last season, the Steelers had to rely on a pair of young, unproven backups in Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges to take the reins. The team went 8-6 on their watch and finished just outside the playoffs at 8-8.
With Rudolph and Hodges starting, the margin for error shrunk, and Colbert acknowledged that the defense had to hold opponents to 17 points with Rudolph starting and 14 with Hodges to win. The general manager said the team is comfortable going into training camp with that pair and Paxton Lynch, a former first-round pick who initially joined the Steelers’ practice squad before being elevated to the active roster, as Roethlisberger’s backups.
“Optimistically, (Roethlisberger) is on schedule to return and we hope to return to maybe even a better Ben Roethlisberger than he was previous to the injury,” Colbert said. “In the meantime, we understand who our backups are. We’re comfortable with who those backups are. I thought they did a great representable job in 2019 under the circumstances.”
Despite missing the postseason for the second year in a row, Colbert is optimistic about the direction of his team.
“We’re all disappointed at 8-8,” he said, “but I feel better moving into 2020 than I did moving into 2019 coming off of 9-6-1.”
Young Buccaneers fan Kacey Reynolds, whose wish was granted, dies
TAMPA, Fla. — Kacey Reynolds, the 19-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan from Maysville, Georgia, whose wish was granted last year when he got to announce the Bucs’ 2019 first-round draft pick, has died after a three-year battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, the team announced Sunday.
“We’re saddened by the passing of Buccaneers fan Kacey Reynolds. Our hearts go out to his family,” the Bucs tweeted, adding that he’ll “forever be part of the Buccaneers family.”
We’re saddened by the passing of Buccaneers fan Kacey Reynolds. Our hearts go out to his family.
Kacey announced our first round pick at last year’s draft as his Make-A-Wish experience, and will forever be a part of the Buccaneers family. pic.twitter.com/RXwUcTf91N
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 23, 2020
In addition to having Reynolds announce the pick, coach Bruce Arians, a two-time cancer survivor, called Reynolds and invited him and his parents Kenneth and Kelly Reynolds to fly back to Tampa with fifth-overall draft selection Devin White.
Reynolds took part in White’s introductory press conference, played pool with Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans and got to meet Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy.
Evans was actually the one who delivered the message to Reynolds via video at his school that he’d be making the draft pick.
“This one hurts man,” Evans tweeted. “You loved the squad regardless of the outcome. It was great getting to know you. RIP my friend.”
After Ramsey tweets trade ideas, Lions CB Darius Slay says, “If it happens, it happens” – Detroit Lions Blog
Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay said he doesn’t feel any different about possibly being traded — sticking with his stance he took back in October, when the Pro Bowler’s name was first floated for a possible trade.
On Sunday, he told ESPN “whatever happens, happens. I’m here to play ball,” when asked about the latest rumors about his future.
The 29-year-old said he figures there have been some discussions about his future and whether it would be in Detroit, but there haven’t been any substantive talks with him. Mostly, he sees those conversations on the internet and that things seem open for anything.
“I mean, they open for it so [the Lions] probably are having some talks,” Slay said. “Probably they just have to get the right, I’m guessing, whatever the right cost and then it can happen. That’s the only thing I can get from it, really. If they can get the right price for it, they’ll probably, most likely they do it.”
— Darius Slay (@_bigplayslay23) February 23, 2020
On Sunday, Slay would only say “if it happens, it happens.”
Slay has been the topic of trade conversations with the Lions since October, after Detroit dealt starting safety Quandre Diggs to Seattle at the deadline. He was outspoken about the trade then and said “nobody’s safe” when it comes to potentially being moved.
His name resurfaced as a possible trade target again last week when ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Lions were speaking with multiple teams about Slay but wanted to make sure they would get appropriate value in return for Slay, who is entering the final year of his deal in 2020.
Slay declined to say what he was looking for in a new contract, but his agent knows his worth and what he believes his worth is. He had previously tweeted that $15-to-$16 million per year might be too low.
Slay also said that he and his wife, Jennifer, have talked with their children about the possibility he won’t be playing for the Lions this year.
The three-time Pro Bowler also reiterated that he would like to play his entire career in Detroit, but understands the business side of the NFL as well.
“It’s a business so it should be looked at as a business aspect of it. If it was up to me, I would love to be here my whole career,” Slay said. “But one thing about a lot of stuff that comes, first is my family so I’ll do what’s best for my family, for them first and put my family in great position to never have to want for nothing.
“So that’s my goal, and if that’s being here, I’m here. If it ain’t, then I ain’t.”
NFL player leadership remains divided over 17-game season
NFL player leadership is still majorly divided over the thought of a 17-game season.
Player reps fell into three categories when discussing the proposed new Collective Bargaining Agreement, sources told ESPN — those who never want 17 games, those who will accept it with tweaks to the deal, and those who accept it as is.
Those reps held a conference call Friday and were set to vote on the deal, but getting the two-thirds majority was far from a slam dunk, a source said. NFLPA decided to postpone voting, giving all parties involved a few days to sleep on the proposal and meet at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
“Anything is possible at this point,” a source said.
The players are set to meet with NFL officials on Tuesday and could vote as early as Wednesday but hope to go back to owners and continue negotiations, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. The owners have no intentions to renegotiate the offer, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, who also reports the NFLPA and NFL Management Council have pushed back the start of the franchise tag designation period from Tuesday, Feb. 25 to Thursday, Feb. 27. Teams will now have until March 12 to decide whether to tag a player. NFL teams currently have the option to tag two players (using either the franchise or transition tag), but a new CBA would limit teams to one available tag.
Among the tweaks some players would like to see, according to sources: An increased revenue share, improved pension and further improvements to working conditions.
The NFLPA executive committee voted 6-5 against recommending the proposal, which offers a guaranteed revenue share of 48 percent in 2021, with a potential increase to 48.5 percent upon the start of a 17-game season, which is yet to be determined.
The proposed CBA also offers at least $90,000 increases on minimum salaries, increased pay for offseason activities, expanded pension eligibility, a limit of 16 days in pads at training camp and mandated improvements to visiting team locker rooms.
The current CBA expires March 2021.
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