Big Ben could return to practice, begin repairing image

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger could return for the final team practices before training camp after undergoing evaluations. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

If I had to try to predict what commissioner Roger Goodell will decide regarding the status of Ben Roethlisberger, I believe he will allow the star quarterback to return to the Steelers for offseason practices.

Roethlisberger — who will be suspended at least the first four games of the season, and possibly two more — was ordered to stay away from the team while he was evaluated at an outside facility. Goodell said he expects to make a decision on when Roethlisberger can return to football activities with his team, and that decision is likely to come early next week.

I expect that decision will allow Roethlisberger to return to work for Pittsburgh’s two remaining OTA sessions next month. Goodell will decide in late summer whether to allow Roethlisberger to return after serving a suspension of four, six, or possibly more games.

Roethlisberger has finished his evaluation process, and Steelers officials have been quietly hopeful they could get the passer back for the final sessions of their offseason program to being re-adjusting to coaches and teammates, and also to begin the process of rehabilitating his image and reputation with fans — something that could prove difficult and could take some time.

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