Ben Roethisberger is clean-shaven and throwing crisp passes again.For a Steelers team that suffered from poor quarterback play in Roethlisberger’s absence last season, the veteran’s pass velocity in workouts with teammates this week has offered encouragement. Wide receiver Ryan Switzer shared his impression of the sessions with The Athletic, saying Roethisberger doesn’t look like someone returning from elbow surgery.”Man, he let it rip,” Switzer said. “There was no restraint, no hesitancy, he was just out there. He has been throwing like that for a while and, in my opinion at least, getting out there on that field for the first time and throwing full-speed routes was refreshing. The control factor was taken out of it. He was out there and he was throwing. Did some off-schedule stuff. No restraints. He threw everything — across his body. Everything.”Feels good to be back out there with my guys! @TeamJuJu @JamesConner_ @Switz pic.twitter.com/hAlOwr7Ias— BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) May 18, 2020MORE: Must-watch games on 2020 NFL scheduleTop Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster also participated in the workouts and apparently gave Big Ben high marks as well. “You know, like when the ball cuts through the air and you can hear that ‘pfft-pfft-pfft’ sound?” Switzer said. “That’s what JuJu said it sounded like.”Roethlisberger played in two games last year before undergoing surgery. He’s 38 years old, and the Steelers have reportedly been examining ways to shore up the quarterback position for the future, briefly considering adding Jameis Winston as a backup before sticking to their current crop of passers.But this is still Roethlisberger’s team, and it will likely go as far as his throwing arm allows.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson Lakers coach Phil Jackson, meanwhile, was upset by defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter. The Lakers twice tied the score in the last four minutes only to watch it slip away. Jackson was perplexed as Smush Parker and Devean George lost track of Utah guard Keith McLeod in a screen around the basket. McLeod was left alone by Parker and flipped in a layup with 1:17 remaining to put the Jazz in front for good. “It was a mistake, it was a big mistake,” Jackson said. “Smush automatically switched. You can’t do that when you’re that man. You have to get called to help.” Jackson even talked to his team about how their late-game decisions could translate to the choices they make in life, especially when it comes to evaluating risk and reward. But the Lakers found their defense lacking in the first game without Bryant, a 98-94 loss to Utah on Sunday. The Jazz came to Staples Center as the league’s 28th-ranked offensive team but totaled 53 points by halftime and too many easy baskets late. “We have to play a better defensive game,” Odom said. “I think we thought we were going to win that game just by beating them on offense. We can’t let them get 98 at home. We should be able to sit on this team a little bit and stop them.” EL SEGUNDO – As soon as Kobe Bryant was suspended by the NBA last week, Lamar Odom hit upon a theme for the Lakers in the two games they would play without their superstar guard, the league’s second-leading scorer. To win without their best offensive player, Odom reasoned, the Lakers would need to play their best defensive games of the season. “If you’re doing the same things in your life,” Jackson said, “you’re living a pretty scattered and hectic life and you’ve got to really take this opportunity to change.” The Lakers have lost their past four games by a combined 13 points. They are 5-8 in games decided by five points or less this season. “Our situation is that we’re still a team that’s sitting above .500 and we have to learn how to win close games because that’s what it comes down to in the playoffs,” Jackson said. They also have some history to avoid tonight in Salt Lake City. Not since March 6, 1994 has a Jackson-coached team lost five consecutive games. The Lakers twice suffered through four-game losing streaks in Jackson’s first tenure. Foul shooting: The Lakers missed 5 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter Sunday and went 15 of 25 from the line in the game. Yet there was one bright spot. Forward Kwame Brown, shooting 46.8 percent from the line this season, sank both free throws when he went to the line in the second quarter. Jackson said he was told it was the first time all season Brown had done so. Also: Rookie center Andrew Bynum hasn’t played in the past five games. … Bryant attended practice Monday but still was feeling under the weather. Ross Siler, (818) 713-3610 [email protected] LAKERS at UTAH Tipoff: 6 p.m., Delta Center TV/Radio: Ch. 9; 570-AM, 1330-AM (Spanish) Lakers (15-15) update: The last time they were in Salt Lake City, the Lakers prevailed 105-101 at the end of a three-hour overtime marathon. Kobe Bryant drew a controversial foul with 0.4 seconds left in regulation and sank two free throws. Bryant fouled out with 2:07 remaining in overtime. Utah (15-16) update: The Jazz has won four in a row and could return to .500 for the first time since Nov. 14 with a victory tonight. Forward Andrei Kirilenko, who has missed 10 games this season, is averaging 18 points and 9.8 rebounds in four games since returning from back spasms. – Ross Siler 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!