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fordfixer
07-12-2010, 02:38 AM
Ben Roethlisberger's limbo puts big questions on Steelers
By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football ... port_N.htm (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/steelers/2010-07-11-steelers-organization-report_N.htm)


PITTSBURGH The buzz this year about the Pittsburgh Steelers might have involved several topics. Can they improve their running game? Can they get back to playing shutdown defense and holding fourth-quarter leads? Can a team that has won two Super Bowls in the past five seasons make a run at another?

Such debates receded into the background in March when a female college student in Georgia filed a sexual assault complaint against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The fallout, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's six-game suspension of Roethlisberger for the start of the regular season, became the dominant theme of this offseason for the Steelers.

"Ultimately, we'll be measured, of course, by our ability to win football games, and that's what this is about," says Mike Tomlin, entering his fourth season as head coach, while addressing his quarterback's (and team's) predicament. "This is a distraction if we lose. If we don't, it's not. And I'm committed to making sure that it's not."

Roethlisberger is looking ahead and hoping for a fresh start.

"I've spent a lot of time evaluating and looking at my life both on and off the field, and I think this is a time for me to kind of close the chapter on the last couple of years of my life and move on to a new one," he says.

It will be a delayed reboot. Byron Leftwich is the clear favorite to start the season under center.

"If I'm the guy while he's gone, it's my job to go out there and win football games," says Leftwich, a Pittsburgh backup in 2008, who was reacquired in an April trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The complaint against Roethlisberger was filed March 5. On April 12, authorities in Georgia announced no criminal charges would be filed because of lack of evidence. But when Goodell imposed the conditional suspension for Roethlisberger's violation of the league's personal conduct policy, he ordered him to also undergo behavioral analysis by medical professionals.

Goodell has said that before the start of the regular season, he will decide whether to reduce the suspension to four games, contingent on whether Roethlisberger follows what the NFL describes only as a "recommended plan." Goodell also has left open the possibility he could lengthen the ban.

Roethlisberger will be permitted to take part in training camp and preseason games. How much practice work and playing time do the Steelers give him when they also have to prepare Leftwich and adapt the offense to him?

"I will say this: It's a tricky situation to try to keep Ben getting the reps and keep Byron getting the reps in terms of Ben's got to miss some games, that whole thing," wide receiver Antwaan Randle El says.

"I don't know exactly how they will do it."

When Roethlisberger returned to practice on June 1 (after being cleared to do so by Goodell), he ran the first-team offense. Tomlin said that was just to get him back in the flow. But when the Steelers report to training camp in Latrobe, Pa., in July, priorities will be different.

"The minute you step on the field at Latrobe, you're competing," Tomlin says. "You're competing for work, you're competing to make it, and you're preparing to face the challenges of the season."

A question that might loom: If Leftwich is playing well when Roethlisberger is reinstated, do the Steelers bench him to put Roethlisberger back into the huddle?

It might be just one puzzle the offense has to solve in 2010.

When Roethlisberger became a starter in 2004 as a rookie, the Steelers had a strong running game led by Jerome Bettis. Willie Parker succeeded Bettis and topped 1,000 yards rushing from 2005 through 2007.

Though Rashard Mendenhall ran for 1,108 yards and started 12 games last year, the Steelers ranked 19th in the league in rushing.

Will Pittsburgh be forced to hand the ball off more at the start of the season with Roethlisberger watching from home?

"I'm just not going to proceed with that assumption, but it's no question that we want a quality running game," Tomlin says.

The Steelers will also be without wide receiver Santonio Holmes, another factor that could swing the play-calling more toward the ground. Holmes was dealt to the New York Jets amid a string of legal troubles. But Tomlin seems more than comfortable with emerging deep threat Mike Wallace, who replaces Holmes in the lineup.

Meanwhile, the defense must iron out its own concerns after ceding five fourth-quarter leads in 2009.

The lack of a pound-it-out running game fed into those fourth-quarter problems. So did uncharacteristic breakdowns. En route to a Super Bowl title in 2008, Pittsburgh had the league's top-ranked defense for the second season in a row under the direction of coordinator Dick LeBeau. Last season, the ranking fell to fifth overall.

"No. 5 total defense might be good for another team, another city," cornerback Ike Taylor says. "But our expectations are real high. We want to be No. 1 all the way across the board."

Pittsburgh played most of last season without two key defensive starters, safety Troy Polamalu and defensive end Aaron Smith, both waylaid by injuries. The Steelers hope their return to health can help them get back to closing out games.

"We've got to finish," Taylor says.

But first they have to start, and when the Steelers report to Latrobe, all eyes will be on Roethlisberger.

"It's something we have to deal with," Tomlin says.

"Those are the cards that we're being dealt, and he's a pro. When the opportunity comes for him to play, I'm sure he's going to be excited about doing it."

AROUND THE FIELD IN PITTSBURGH

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger has become an excellent passer, but his suspension renders him unavailable until October, at the earliest. Byron Leftwich is the front-runner to be the interim replacement. As Roethlisberger's backup in 2008, Leftwich had brief but solid performances. Third-year pro Dennis Dixon, who started one game in 2009, is also in the mix along with veteran Charlie Batch.

Running back: Former first-rounder Rashard Mendenhall took over last season for Willie Parker, who has moved on to the Washington Redskins. Rookie Jonathan Dwyer will get a shot at the No. 2 spot and as a goal-line back.

Wide receiver: Santonio Holmes, the Super Bowl XLIII MVP, was traded to the New York Jets after a series of off-field issues and a looming four-game suspension. That opened a starting spot for Mike Wallace, who's coming off a strong rookie season. Team leader Hines Ward starts on the other side. The Steelers also reacquired Antwaan Randle El and added Arnaz Battle in free agency.

Tight end: Heath Miller is the mainstay. He fits the Pittsburgh mold as a blocker and receiver. Matt Spaeth and Sean McHugh provide versatility in multiple tight end formations.

Offensive line: The Steelers are intent on upgrading their rushing game. That doesn't necessarily mean running the ball more, but running it more effectively could help alleviate the pass-protection problems that resulted in Roethlisberger being sacked a league-high 50 times in 2009. First-rounder and likely center-of-the-future Maurkice Pouncey might start at right guard. The unit also includes tackles Max Starks and Willie Colon, Chris Kemoeatu (left guard) and Justin Hartwig (center). If the Achilles injury Colon suffered Monday proves serious, Trai Essex or Jonathan Scott might anchor the right side.

Defensive line: The Steelers took a major hit last season when left end Aaron Smith was limited to five games by a torn rotator cuff. He's back for a 12th season, but how he'll hold up remains to be seen. Backup Evander "Ziggy" Hood, Pittsburgh's top draft pick in 2009, figures to get more playing time. Nose tackle Casey Hampton and right end Brett Keisel also return. The team is hoping an experienced group doesn't play like an old one.

Linebacker: This strong unit defines the defense. Pro Bowlers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley bring the pass-rushing heat on the outside. James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons play inside. After a season with the Detroit Lions, former starter Larry Foote returns to provide depth. Projects Thaddeus Gibson and Jason Worilds arrived in the draft.

Secondary: The key is whether big-play safety Troy Polamalu can stay healthy. He was limited to five games last season because of knee injuries. After a year with the Arizona Cardinals, Bryant McFadden was brought back and might reclaim his job from William Gay opposite left corner Ike Taylor.

Special teams: The Steelers allowed four kickoff returns for touchdowns in 2009. Free agent signings Battle and safety Will Allen plus rookies like Worilds and Gibson are among those being counted on to help remedy that. Kicker Jeff Reed is one of the league's most reliable kickers.

Coaching staff: New special-teams coach Al Everest replaces fired Bob Ligashesky. New offensive line coach Sean Kugler replaces fired Larry Zierlein. Ligashesky and Zierlein were the first two assistants to be let go since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007.

Outlook: How the Steelers survive Roethlisberger's suspension will be critical. But it's not the only key to whether they can make another playoff run. They've got other questions, too. In a tough division, matching last year's 9-7 finish might be difficult, especially if they get into an early hole minus their biggest star.

Crash
07-12-2010, 03:56 AM
When Roethlisberger became a starter in 2004 as a rookie, the Steelers had a strong running game led by Jerome Bettis

Actually they were led by Duce Staley to start that season. Jerome was his backup.

Most of that story is months old crap. JFC can't anyone write their own stuff anymore?


Goodell also has left open the possibility he could lengthen the ban.

IF, more incidents were to come to light. I notice that part wasn't reported here.

See how half truths get reported as fact in this case?

RuthlessBurgher
07-12-2010, 10:21 AM
A question that might loom: If Leftwich is playing well when Roethlisberger is reinstated, do the Steelers bench him to put Roethlisberger back into the huddle?

No. Hope that helps.

As somewhat of a parallel, Matt Cassel played well in New England in 2008 (327-516 63.4% 3,693 yds 7.2 ypa 21 TD 11 INT), leading his team to 11 wins that year. Did Belichick bench his multiple Super Bowl winning QB Brady when he came back from his injury because Cassel played well in his stead? No. He traded his @$$ away instead. You don't bench multiple Super Bowl winning franchise QB's. No questions might loom.

siss
07-12-2010, 10:45 AM
The steelers are not going to bench Ben. They are not paying him 102 million to hold a clip board.

Oviedo
07-12-2010, 11:01 AM
A question that might loom: If Leftwich is playing well when Roethlisberger is reinstated, do the Steelers bench him to put Roethlisberger back into the huddle?

No. Hope that helps.

As somewhat of a parallel, Matt Cassel played well in New England in 2008 (327-516 63.4% 3,693 yds 7.2 ypa 21 TD 11 INT), leading his team to 11 wins that year. Did Belichick bench his multiple Super Bowl winning QB Brady when he came back from his injury because Cassel played well in his stead? No. He traded his @$$ away instead. You don't bench multiple Super Bowl winning franchise QB's. No questions might loom.

Completely right!!! Look at the number of years we suffered with the like of Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malaone, Bubby Brister etc after Bradshaw retired and until we got Ben.

You don't let someone like Ben leave your organization if there is any possible way to keep him.

Captain Lemming
07-12-2010, 11:28 AM
Ben will start no doubt.
However, I do hope it is topic of debate when the time comes.
That only happens if we are off to an amazing start.



A question that might loom: If Leftwich is playing well when Roethlisberger is reinstated, do the Steelers bench him to put Roethlisberger back into the huddle?

No. Hope that helps.

As somewhat of a parallel, Matt Cassel played well in New England in 2008 (327-516 63.4% 3,693 yds 7.2 ypa 21 TD 11 INT), leading his team to 11 wins that year. Did Belichick bench his multiple Super Bowl winning QB Brady when he came back from his injury because Cassel played well in his stead? No. He traded his @$$ away instead. You don't bench multiple Super Bowl winning franchise QB's. No questions might loom.

fordfixer
07-13-2010, 12:32 AM
JFC can't anyone write their own stuff anymore?



No so I just post other folks stuff :lol:

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
07-14-2010, 10:12 AM
Did Belichick bench his multiple Super Bowl winning QB Brady when he came back from his injury because Cassel played well in his stead? No. He traded his @$$ away instead. You don't bench multiple Super Bowl winning franchise QB's. No questions might loom.

Wrong!!

Haven't you been reading the newspapers? We are going to trade Ben at the draft because we have undeniable proof that he raped 11 women.

We are trading him to the Raiders along with next years first 3 picks for Jamarcus Russell.

Please try to stay more current Ruthless. :wink:

cruzer8
07-14-2010, 11:00 AM
Did Belichick bench his multiple Super Bowl winning QB Brady when he came back from his injury because Cassel played well in his stead? No. He traded his @$$ away instead. You don't bench multiple Super Bowl winning franchise QB's. No questions might loom.

Wrong!!

Haven't you been reading the newspapers? We are going to trade Ben at the draft because we have undeniable proof that he raped 11 women.

We are trading him to the Raiders along with next years first 3 picks for Jamarcus Russell.

Please try to stay more current Ruthless. :wink:

Russell is no longer a Raider. Please try to stay more current! ;) :D