The Pittsburgh Steelers begin the Mason Rudolph era on Sunday when their 2018 third-round pick gets his first career start, but the team had been holding out hope that their incumbent starter won’t be gone for long until recently.
According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac, starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent a second opinion on Thursday for his injured right elbow.
Roethlisberger reportedly met with Dr. Neil ElAttrache in private in Pittsburgh. ElAttrache, one of the foremost Tommy John surgeons, is the team doctor for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Rams but hails from nearby Mount Pleasant and went to medical school at Pitt.
The 37-year-old Roethlisberger initially injured his elbow in the second half of Week 2's game against the Seattle Seahawks. He grabbed his elbow after a pair of passes and did not return for the second half.
While the Steelers have not disclosed the extent of Roethlisberger’s injury, their announcement that he would be shelved for the season paired with his second opinion from ElAttrache paints an ugly picture.
Second opinions are usually just done to be safe and are rarely different than the initial diagnosis. Roethlisberger and the Steelers have not announced when and what kind of surgery he might need, but they are certainly hoping it will not be Tommy John surgery.
While the surgery is far more common in baseball than football, several notable quarterbacks have faced the procedure before. Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme went under the knife after just three games in 2007 and returned for Week 1 in 2008. Carson Palmer, on the other hand, opted to let his injury heal without surgery in 2008 and was healthy for the following season.
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