PITTSBURGH — Optimism. That was the key word coming from Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert as he met with the media on Thursday to talk about the state of the Steelers heading into 2020.
Colbert answered several questions about Ben Roethlisberger. Last season, he said he was keeping his beard until he could throw again. Wednesday night, he was seen in full beard with the WVU Mascot at their basketball game, so we all know he isn’t throwing yet. Roethlisberger has an appointment with a doctor later this month to determine his next steps in recovery from his elbow surgery.
Colbert remains optimistic that Roethlisberger will have a full recovery, telling the media: “Optimistically, he’s on schedule to return. We hope he returns as a better Ben Roethlisberger than he was previous to the injury.”
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As far as the quarterbacks behind Ben, Colbert said the Steelers are comfortable with Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges and Paxton Lynch.
As far as the lack of production from James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Colbert attributed that to injuries that held down their production, something he considers an anomaly. Colbert believes both will be back to form this coming season.
The Steelers aren’t ready to announce any decisions on Bud Dupree. February 25th is the first day that they can use the franchise tag on him. A decision on the tag has to be made by March 10th.
Colbert said the Steelers don’t have a first-round draft pick, but that things could change, hinting that he would be willing to trade to get back into the first round. But, he declared that Minkah Fitzpatrick is still their ‘first round pick’ and Colbert said, “I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Minkah yet.”
In closing Colbert said 8-8 wasn’t good enough, but that he’s more optimistic about this off-season, than the one before where the Steelers were coming off of a 9-6-1 record. Colbert said, “Moving forward, I think our defense is better in 2020 than our defense was moving into 2019. I feel optimistic we’ll have Ben back. I hope the health kicks in for James Conner, for Vance McDonald, for JuJu Smith-Schuster. That remains to be seen. But I am more optimistic for 2020.”
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