View Full Version : Roethlisberger, line relish tight bond

10-03-2009, 10:51 PM
Harris: Roethlisberger, line relish tight bond

Thursday, October 1, 2009
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 45850.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_645850.html)

In the NFL, you take small victories as they come.

The Steelers are 1-2 this season after winning Super Bowl XLIII. Injuries are beginning to pile up on both sides of the ball. Not only that, the Steelers are facing a must-win game Sunday night against San Diego at Heinz Field.

Which brings us to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his offensive line.

Roethlisberger has been given more time to pass this season, and the results have been positive.

He ranks first in the league in completion percentage (71.6), third in completions (78) and fifth in passing yards (860).

Roethlisberger has been sacked seven times in 109 passing attempts. The ratio of one sack for every 15.5 passes is better than last year's ratio of one sack for every 13.2 attempts.

Since his offensive line is taking better care of him, Roethlisberger is taking care of his line.

Next Monday -- the day after the San Diego game -- Roethlisberger will appear as a guest host for World Wrestling Entertainment's "Monday Night Raw'' in Wilkes-Barre. He's taking his offensive line with him.

"They came to him with the opportunity, and he said the only way he would do it is if we were involved,'' right tackle Willie Colon said. "He asked us, and we all said, 'yeah.'

"We eat together. We go out together. We have Monday night card games together. It started from last year. We all kind of came together and do a lot of stuff together. It's not uncommon at all. It's mostly the line and Ben.''

Colon hasn't followed wrestling for years, but left tackle Max Starks said Roethlisberger didn't give his teammates an opportunity to turn down his invitation.

"It had to be a really good excuse,'' Starks said. "A baby had to be born. Or somebody had better be in the hospital if you said no.''

Quiet and reserved, Roethlisberger isn't known for the company he keeps. His closest friends on the team are the offensive linemen who are paid to protect him.

Last year, his offenive line took so much heat for Roethlisberger's 49 sacks that the quarterback praised them to a national television audience after winning the Super Bowl: "Who's laughing now, O-line?''

Roethlisberger didn't speak with the media Wednesday.

"Ben's extremely conscious who he lets in his inner circle. When you earn his trust, he treats you like family,'' Colon said. "That's how he feels about us.''

Added left guard Chris Kemoeatu: "I don't think there's a different side to Ben. He's just a bit more open as far as talking to us, hanging out with us. We're a little bit more outspoken, too, as far as what we say to him.''

Roethlisberger and Starks entered the league together in 2004. Right guard Trai Essex followed in '05, Kemoeatu and Colon the year after that. Center Justin Hartwig, who joined the Steelers last year as a free agent, is the only offensive line starter older than 30.

"We're all right there in age. We sit right in a row in the locker together. You spend that much time together, you end up being a close group,'' Starks said.

Colon said that closeness off the field translates on the field during games.

"It doesn't do anything more than kind of make you fight harder for your brother, if you will,'' Colon said.