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Ben Roethlisberger’s return prompts Vance McDonald to predict big things

The Steelers' defense kept Pittsburgh in the playoff hunt in 2019. With a healthy Ben Roethlisberger in 2020, the Steelers could be a major factor in the AFC.

There were questions about Ben Roethlisberger after surgery to reattach three tendons to the bone in his right elbow last fall. The Steelers quarterback is providing the answers this summer.

It has the Steelers excited about their offense after what Roethlisberger did in his last full season, in 2018, when he led the league with 5,129 passing yards.

“Objectively — remove me from the fact I’m a Steeler — but I don’t see how our offense can not be super productive and be one of the top offenses in the NFL,” tight end Vance McDonald said Tuesday, via Ed Bouchette of “I think the excitement is obviously everywhere here in our building (with) the potential we know we can reach, the numbers we know we can put up.”

The Steelers don’t have Antonio Brown as they did two years ago, but they have tight end Eric Ebron. And unlike last season, when they had a healthy Roethlisberger for only 95 snaps, they have a healthy Roethlisberger now.

It’s safe to say the Steelers will have a better chance to do what they want to do with a healthy Roethlisberger over backups Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. The backups combined to start the final 14 games last season when Roethlisberger went on injured reserve.

“With Ben back, obviously it will be the biggest point of emphasis I think for our offense moving forward,” McDonald said. “I’m not afraid to say as he goes we all go. I’m loving what I’m seeing from him.”

The Steelers haven’t won a championship since 2008 and last were in the Super Bowl in 2010, when Roethlisberger was 28 and in his seventh season. He’s 38 now and entering his 17th season.

Time is running out.

“This is the most I’ve ever seen Ben in terms of just hunger for winning a championship,” McDonald said. “Not to say he didn’t have that in the past. I can respect that being down last season made it all the more real for him. And being able to go through a very heavy surgery for a quarterback thrower for him and to be where he is right now has made him so hungry.

“The way he attacks the day is just different than I’d seen him since I got here in 2017. So I’m loving the leadership from him. I’m loving again just that hunger and fire. Again, I think you will notice that trickle down to the entire offense as we kind of get started rocking and rolling here. Guys are just flocking to him. The hunger is real from Ben.”