View Full Version : Ben Roethlisberger plays w/ first-team offense to start camp

07-31-2010, 05:05 PM

Big Ben plays with 1st-team offense
Updated: July 31, 2010, 4:36 PM ET
By James Walker

LATROBE, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin cautioned that he will not be locked in with a set rotation at quarterback this summer. But on the opening practice of training camp, Ben Roethlisberger played with the first-team offense.

The Steelers have an interesting dilemma with their quarterbacks entering the 2010 season. Roethlisberger will serve a conditional six-game suspension, which has opened the door for backups Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon.

Leftwich was primarily with the second-team skill players Saturday morning and worked some reps with the starting offensive line. Dixon followed Leftwich as Pittsburgh's third quarterback.

But as the coaching staff warned, the rotation can -- and probably will -- change at any moment.

"We're going to switch it every day," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "But to start the first day, we put our guys out there like we ended up in the spring ... It's the first day and it's a long way to [the end of] training camp."

While Roethlisberger was forced to stay away from the team in the spring, Leftwich took most of the first-team snaps and is the early favorite to win the job.

Dixon, who has only one career start, also will compete, but has to make up some ground in training camp and the preseason in order to start in Week 1.

Roethlisberger, admittedly not a good teammate at times during his first six NFL seasons, was more outgoing and animated than usual during the first of the day's two practices. Receiver Hines Ward said the disgraced quarterback was clearly working to improve his relationship with his teammates.

"For many years, people didn't know what was really going on with Ben," Ward said. "He's starting to open up and be more personal with guys. Today he was talking to everybody. I really think he understands the situation. I think you could really see the excitement in him, competing and playing football again. ... He's working on trying to improve himself."

During the Steelers' offseason workouts, Ward said Roethlisberger should apologize to his teammates for getting suspended. However, Ward said no such apology was made during a busy team meeting Friday night.

"The whole apology thing, I'm tired of talking about it. He publicly apologized to everybody [by issuing a statement]," Ward said. "He doesn't have to come up to me and apologize. He's been through enough already."

Arians said nobody should have been surprised to watch Roethlisberger practicing with the starters.

"He's our quarterback and everybody else is fighting for a job," Arians said. "We'll switch it every day cause he's got to get with the young receivers and the other guys have to get with the veteran receivers."

James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

07-31-2010, 05:12 PM
Great message to the team, the media and to us. Ben is our qb, PERIOD! Regardless of how well Byron or Dennis does, Ben will be in there for game 5.