Tomlin counts on Roethlisberger's presence

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Steelers coach Mike Tomlin expects franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to attend offseason workouts and practices.

Roethlisberger, facing a sexual assault allegation in Georgia, has not been at workouts that started March 15. But Tomlin said Tuesday at the NFL owners' meetings that he staggers the start of training for players based on their status.

Established veterans such as Roethlisberger are not scheduled to report for workouts until Monday.

Tomlin said he does not know if Roethlisberger will attend the workouts, which are voluntary. But he said Roethlisberger is too competitive to stay away from offseason workouts and organized team practices, which begin April 19, for an extended period.

"It's not in his DNA," Tomlin said. "When it's time for him to be there, he'll be there."

Reiterating the stance team president Art Rooney II took last week, Tomlin said the Steelers are not considering contingency plans at quarterback.

Roethlisberger and Dennis Dixon are the only quarterbacks on the roster, though the team hopes to re-sign Charlie Batch.

As for signing another quarterback to protect themselves with Roethlisberger's status uncertain, Tomlin said, "Of course, if we have to we will, but I don't think it's gotten to that point where we need to make those hard and fast decisions. That's an 'if' at this point, and I don't deal with 'ifs.'"

While Roethlisberger's reputation has taken a hit, Tomlin had good things to say when asked about his quarterback as a person and player.

"He's a ridiculous competitor, a good guy, a guy that wants to win, a guy that doesn't mind toting the burden that comes with being the quarterback of our football team," Tomlin said. "Really what you see is what you get, from my perspective."

Tomlin's take

Here are selected comments Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made Tuesday regarding Ben Roethlisberger, who has been accused of sexual assault stemming from a March 5 incident in Milledgeville, Ga.:

On Roethlisberger getting accused of sexual assault with a civil suit pending against him:

"Really, it doesn't serve me, it doesn't serve the organization, it doesn't serve Ben for me to continue to add comments at this point. We've been pretty clear from Art Rooney II on down about where we are at this point. As the investigation continues to develop, as things change, we'll react appropriately."

On NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's intent to meet with Roethlisberger:

"He's well within his rights, of course, in terms of meeting with him. I share his concerns."

On whether franchise quarterbacks are held to a higher standard in the NFL:

"I think it's safe to say that all of us are held to an extremely high standard. It's a privilege to be part of the National Football League, both players and coaches -- front office personnel, for that matter. Everyone. It's a very sensitive opportunity, and we have to take the luggage that comes with it."

On how disappointed he is that Roethlisberger put himself in his current situation:

"My degree of disappointment really is irrelevant. It's kind of like during the season sometimes when you guys ask me to express my degree of frustration with a situation, it doesn't solve the situation. I learned to be somewhat a flat-liner and let things play out the way they should."