Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger throws at Heinz Field for first time since elbow surgery

PITTSBURGH -- For the first time in nearly a year, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a football with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.

Roethlisberger, who sustained a season-ending elbow injury Week 2 last season, participated in Monday's practice, and the team released a 44-second video of his throws and handoffs afterward.

It was the first footage of the quarterback throwing a pass at Heinz Field since he completed a nine-yard pass to James Conner late in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks. Two plays earlier, Roethlisberger appeared to hurt his elbow on an incomplete pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster, flexing his arm after he threw. He completed two more attempts to finish the drive before being replaced with Mason Rudolph at halftime. Roethlisberger went on injured reserve the following week and had surgery to repair his right elbow in late September.

As a part of his rehabilitation, Roethlisberger previously participated in throwing sessions with some of his receivers at local high schools and at Robert Morris University, but Monday was the first training camp practice he participated in with the full group.

Without preseason games, the Steelers hope to simulate as much game action as possible for Roethlisberger.

"We'll have to take advantage of those game situations that we can present for him out against our defense," offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said last week. "Naturally, the first thing is we've got to get a feel for where he's at, with his body. His arm will tell us. It's not unusual for us to work a day, maybe work half a day and get a day's rest. He knows that routine. It's a little different kind of routine, it's going to be a little different type kind of camp.

"I think we'll have to play that by ear, eventually how he feels and how much he wants. There's times where he wants it all and we'll have to back him off. That's a good thing."

Fichtner initially anticipated that Roethlisberger would throw last week, but the Steelers instead used that time to get a look at their younger quarterbacks like Devlin Hodges and Ohio State product J.T. Barrett, who was released Sunday.

"We've really been focusing on getting to know these young guys, but obviously he has been throwing," coach Mike Tomlin said of Roethlisberger last week. "That throwing has been going well. We like where he is. We don't have any reservations about him being a fluid participant in this training camp process."

During the virtual offseason, Roethlisberger was an active participant in the team meetings, pointing out things he wants to see out of his receivers.

"Ben would always chip in and give his own coaching point on a play, more specifically like what he wants to see from us," said rookie Chase Claypool, who told reporters he participated in a couple of throwing sessions with Roethlisberger. "That was pretty helpful in terms of what we should do and what is expected."

For an offseason that's been anything but normal, the return of Roethlisberger brings much-needed stability to the organization.

"Normal now becomes Ben Roethlisberger back in the huddle," offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said last week. "That just gives you the normalcy."

But, Fichtner cautioned his players that Roethlisberger's return doesn't immediately solve all the problems faced by the offense.

"The very first thing I would tell our group is, knock it up, Ben Roethlisberger is back," he said. "And everybody knocks on their desk or else we clap. Then the second thing I'd say is that doesn't excuse every man for doing their job and being great at what they do because it's only going to be 11 of us that are going to get that done. "Don't think that maybe I can take a deep breath and say, 'Ah, Ben's back.' No, that's not the case. That's not going to be the charge."