Shutdown Corner - NFL

Most Pittsburgh Steelers will be meeting this week for the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program, but when they get there, they won't be seeing one familiar face: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Adam Schefter at ESPN reported the news Monday morning, although his wording leaves a bit unclear just who made the decision. I only point that out because last week head coach Mike Tomlin said he expected Roethlisberger to be there. Here's what Schefter said.

Team spokesman Dave Lockett says the two-time Super Bowl quarterback is not expected to join his teammates this week for voluntary offseason workouts that begin Monday.

After discussing whether Roethlisberger's presence would create too much of a distraction, the decision was made for him not to attend the team's offseason program, according to a source.

I don't know if it was a decision made by Roethlisberger and his people because they didn't want to deal with all the media hassle, a decision made by the team because they don't want the flock of reporters, or a mutual decision between everybody.

Doesn't matter, I suppose. I would suggest, though, that this media invasion they're expecting is coming sooner or later, so they might as well just get it out of the way. I guess they have another strategy.

So what does Roethlisberger's absence mean? From a pure football standpoint, absolutely nothing. The season's still a long way away, there's plenty of time to get into shape, and Roethlisberger's good enough that he could likely step on a field tomorrow and play at the highest level.

Beyond that, I haven't a clue. It's interesting to note, though, that the report comes on the same morning that Peter King suggests that the Steelers pursue other options at quarterback, just in case Roethlisberger isn't available. Quoth King:

I've been alarmed by some of the hearsay I've heard said about the Roethlisberger case, and the Steelers (and their fans) need to understand the seriousness of the charge and the fact that there's no guarantee about his future if this case goes to trial.

Or, you know ... charges are even filed.

Until the legal wheels get to turning, it all remains idle chit-chat. Unless Peter would care to share some of the alarming hearsay.

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