Tomlin on Ben ‘reasonable to assume that there is a chance he will be back’

Praised Ben for staying healthy, yet to assess his performance

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was strong in his opinion of Ben Roethlisberger’s performance as far as staying healthy, but was unclear to reporters Wednesday of his opinion of his quarterback’s play on the field.

“I was more than pleased with the performance of his health and his ability to stay up,” Tomlin said.  “In terms of the quality of his play and our play, we will begin to assess that in the upcoming days.  In terms of him responding to the challenges that he specifically came in the season ready to face-spectacular.”

Roethlisberger finished 12-3 as a starter in the regular season throwing for 3,803 yards (16th in NFL) while completing 65.6% of his passes (23rd among starters, one thousandth of a point below Tom Brady) for 33 touchdowns (9th) and 10 interceptions (13th, better than Brady and Russell Wilson).

“I can’t say enough about his performance this year,” Tomlin said.  “With the uncertainty coming off of injury and particularly not having the opportunity to perform in preseason games.  There really was a high level of concern about his health and his ability to perform.”

That’s a stronger comment about his play, but will Roethlisberger be back?  Does it make sense for Roethlisberger to return given their cap situation?  Releasing Ben would save 19 million dollars.

“I don’t have a clear assessment of the overall impact of the cap ramifications,” Tomlin said.  “I think its reasonable to assume that there is a chance that he will be back, certainly.  The depths of the ramifications of the cap discussions, I am not privy to as I sit here now.”

In his one start, a loss at Cleveland to end the regular season playing without a few regulars.  Mason Rudolph was 22 of 39 for 315 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception.

How does Tomlin feel now about the current back-up QB?

“I thought he displayed that he took a step in growth and development with his performance, even though it was a small sample size,” Tomlin said.  “I would imagine he is going to continue with that growth and development.”

“We will see where that leads us in terms of what he is able to provide us.  I’m excited he was able to display that.  I think it’s reasonable for me to expect and for him to expect that general trajectory to continue.”

The 13-year Steelers head coach has some assessing to do.  He made it clear there will be changes.  Whether it will be at starting quarterback is currently unclear.