Tag Archives: Ben Roethlisberger
Change with all sides has to happen over time, and there has been a gradual change in the personnel at the Steelers over the past few years. The challenge ahead this year for head coach, Mike Tomlin, will be getting back to having a winning season after a 12-4 record and a playoff loss to Denver in 2011 turned into an 8-8 season in 2012.
Defensively, the biggest loss was linebacker, James Harrison, who was released after salary-cap issues (and is now with the Bengals) but it was the offense that saw the biggest changes, with new back-ups behind quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, a new backfield, a much-changed receiving corps, and a new look on the offensive line.
The steady part of the Steelers offense is Roethlisberger; he is the main constant in the attack and, with a new supporting cast this year, fans betting on the NFL will be hoping that he (for once) can stay healthy this year and play all 16 regular season games, something that has happened only once in all his seasons as a starter.
His fitness is vital, especially with veteran backups, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich, gone and replaced by another veteran, in Bruce Gradkowski and fourth-round draft pick, Landry Jones, who must be considered a work-in-progress. Jones went from a potential first-round pick to a fourth-rounder after a disappointing senior season; he certainly isn’t NFL ready – yet.
Pittsburgh has always been considered a team that can run the football but, last year, they couldn’t accomplish that, mainly due to injuries. This year, they certainly expect improvement to come in that department, as they have drafted Le’Veon Bell in the second round; he should quickly take over as the featured and starting back.
He’s a workhorse back with good size (6-1, 244); he’s durable, and can take tacklers a few yards; he’s also very powerful and relentless, a good acquisition for the Steelers’ style of running game that they like to play.
Bell should have solid support on the ground with Issac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer competing for the number two spot on the roster. As things stand, it looks as though Redman will get the nod. Bell is likely to see the field on 3rd down as long as he continues to improve his pass blocking & blitz pickup. Will Johnson returns at fullback and will be a good addition in a mainly blocking role.
Question marks must remain over the receiving corps though, especially as Heath Miller at tight-end, their leading receiver in 2012 (71 catches), is not yet slated to return after injury. With him missing, the receivers look like a weaker group, especially as Mike Wallace was also lost to the Dolphins.
So, what have the Steelers got in this department? Well, Emmanuel Sanders, who was a nice slot receiver last year is going to have to step-up and improve his numbers for a start.
Although he did well in 2012 (44 catches for 626 yards), he will have more pressure on him this year and will be expected to produce more; it remains to be seen if he can handle that situation. Antonio Brown needs to improve again after his form rather levelled off in 2012. After those two, the Steelers receivers are a mixture of draft picks and veterans and it remains to be seen who of those make the full roster for the season. Offense is one area where the Steelers are looking a little light, unless Sanders or Brown really engage overdrive this year.
The offensive line gets a very new look and protecting Roethlisberger will be all important; two starters are gone from the “new look” – guard, Willie Colon, and tackle, Max Starks, and it will be three-time Pro Bowl center, Maurkice Pouncey, who anchors the line.
Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams are being lined up as the tackles but there is still some doubt from NFL betting pundits over who will play left and who will play right. Guards, David DeCastro and Ramon Foster, complete the front five and it looks like the Steelers have a real belief in this line as a unit that could stay together for years – it certainly looks solid enough, providing a platform from which Roethlisberger has time and room to operate.
All in all, ‘transition’ is the right word to use about the Steelers offense – there are elements of stability there, Roethlisberger, for instance. However, much of the cast is new and it may take a while for it all to knit together.
This year, with an increased running game, we can see the Steelers getting back to their “ground and pound” style as the staple for whatever success may come their way, a return to their roots and some “blue-collar football”.
After going just 8-8 last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost key wide receiver Mike Wallace to free agency. He was the Steelers top receiving threat and a particularly strong deep threat as well as being the Steeler top ranked in fantasy football in 2012. As the team tries to get back into the playoff hunt, will Ben Roethlisberger have enough reliable targets to throw to?
With Wallace gone, the Steelers now have Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders as their top two options. Jerricho Cotchery will more than likely slot in at the #3 option, with Plaxico Burress and Markus Wheaton likely battling for the #4 spot. While all five of those receivers are talented, no single player is going to be able to replace Wallace’s productivity. Instead, it is going to take a collective effort to boost the passing attack.
At 5’10” and just 186 pounds, Brown does not have the size of most #1 receivers in the NFL. However, Todd Haley’s offense calls for a lot of short passes, and that is one of the strong points for the quick receiver. His numbers were down last season, but with the high-ankle sprain behind him, he could be a solid target.
Sanders seems like the player most likely to breakout as a true Wallace replacement, and Roethlisberger was so found of him that he begged management to match his offer sheet from the Patriots. He is not a big play type of guy just yet, but he does have some impressive quickness to go with reliable hands.
Of course, for the Steelers to really have a solid passing game, they will need to have things balanced out by a decent running game. Last year, they were awful running the ball, but Le’Veon Bell has a chance to help turn around that part of the offense. His running threat can open up things for Roethlisberger when the game is on the line.
Wallace is a tough player to replace, but the Steelers feel as though they have enough depth to make up his production collectively. With a healthy Roethlisberger, the passing game should be just fine in 2013.
Max Starks has been consistently one of the better Steelers offensive lineman over the past several years. Yes, Starks is rehabbing a torn ACL injury but he is expected to be healthy shortly even though he was listed on the PUP. Consider this. Starks has 8 years of experience and is still only 30 years old. 30 isn't "over the hill" for a left tackle. Starks knows Ben Roethlisberger's playing style very well and that can't be overstated. It's well documented that Ben likes to extend plays and having a LT that is proven and whom is trusted with protecting Big Be's blind can't be underestimated.
What if Mike Adams isn't ready to play week 1? Starks is literally a huge security blanket for this team. If you need proof of that, refer to last year. Starks was able to relieve Jonathan Scott from his duties after a few poor weeks of play. Starks will do the same this year if Mike Adams isn't ready.
Let's also consider leadership. Ben is clearly the leader on offense but Max will be a close second. With the loss of key longtime leaders (Farrior, Ward and Smith), it's important to sustain good leadership. Having Max Starks back certainly helps out the offensive leadership.
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming a bye week and will travel to Kansas City this weekend to take on the Chiefs.
Pittsburgh is tied with the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North Division with a 7-3 record. However, Baltimore holds the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series.
Last week, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced that he had suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand during the team’s 24-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Roethlisberger said he is planning to play and head coach mike Tomlin confirmed that he will during his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, Roethlisberger practiced in a limited role. He did take snaps out of the “pistol” formation, which is a shorter version of the shotgun to try and protect his hand.
According to Tomlin, he will play and most likely won’t be included on the injury report.
Troy Polamalu suffered a rib injury against the Bengals as well. He was a limited participant in practice last week, but Tomlin fully expects him to play this weekend.
LaMarr Woodley’s status is up in the air however. His status will be determind by how he progresses in practice this week.
Kansa City officially put starting quarterback Matt Cassel on injured reserve Monday after he sustained a hand injury.
On Monday night, Tyler Palko from West Allegheny and the University of Pittsburgh made his first NFL start against the New England Patriots.
Palko completed 25 of his 38 passes for 236 yards, but threw three interceptions in the game. New England won the game 34-3.
Palko is expected to start against the Steelers Sunday night as well.
PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker Lamarr Woodley were both limited in Monday’s practice.
Roethlisberger suffered a broken thumb in the Steelers win against Cincinnati last Sunday. He has already announced the thumb won’t hamper his ability to play this week against Kansas City.
Roethlisberger wore a splint on his right thumb in practice with a glove on top and likely will play with a glove on his throwing hand the rest of the season or until his thumb is fully healed. He took snaps in the shotgun and participated in individual drills.
Woodley appears a bit of a long shot to play Sunday night against the Chiefs with a hamstring injury. He participated only in solo drills. Woodley has been out since the second half of Pittsburgh’s 25-17 win against New England Oct. 30.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is expected to address both players and their statuses today in his weekly press conference, along with any other injury news. He’ll also preview the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tomlin’s press conference can be hears live on Sports Radio 93-7 The FAN.
PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Steelers Wide Receiver Jerricho Cotchery joined Seibel, Starkey and Miller on Sportsradio 93.7 The FAN to talk about his expanding role on the team.
It has appeared as though Cotchery is replacing Hines Ward in a number of formations, and he told us what that feels like, and how Ward has been there helping him along the entire time.
When asked where he seems himself on the depth chart, Cotchery said he just views himself as another guy trying to help the team win, and Mike Tomlin creates an environment where everyone feels important does what they’re asked to.
We also talked about the offense running the no huddle, and how Jerricho enjoys running that form of the offense, and why the Steelers having an elite Quarterback makes it easier to run.
We wrapped things up with Cotchery discussing whether or not the Steelers view themselves as the team to beat in the AFC.
PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette spends a moment with Vinnie & Cook and he gives us the latest on Ben Roethlisberger’s broken thumb, and whether it may affect him heading into the Kansas City game.
He dives into Hines Ward’s future, and tells us where the Steelers really stack up in the AFC.
Ed also gives us a complete analysis of where this team sits at the bye week, and what subplots to watch as the rest of the season unfolds.
Catch Ed Bouchette Tuesdays at 1:00pm with Vinnie & Cook on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan!
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Steelers are on a bye this week. As it turns out, the timing could not be any better.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced that he has a broken thumb, but does not expect to miss any time.
“We’ll put a splint on it and get prepared for the game against Kansas City just like we would if we were playing this week,” Roethlisberger said.
The broken thumb is on his throwing hand, which he also broke during the 2005 season.
Listen to the full interview here:
“Luckily, we have the bye week. I don’t have to throw right now. I don’t have to throw for seven days or [whenever we have to practice again.] So, that will be a good time for it to rest. The big thing is just getting used to throwing with a splint on it again and a glove on, which I’ve done before,” Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger suffered the injury during the Steelers’ 24-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
He said it did hurt to throw, but the biggest problem was squeezing the ball.
PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Ben Roethlisberger was on hand at the #1 Cochran “Save Big, Meet Ben” event Monday night and talked to The Fan Morning Show’s Paul Alexander.
Ben discussed everything Steelers including the recent win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, and how good it feels to head into the bye week finally, after 10 long weeks of football.
Paul asked Ben if it feels better than usual heading into a bye week this late in the season, and on a winning note:
CINCINNATI (KDKA/AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers were looking to shake off a last-second loss to the Baltimore Ravens last weekend as they headed into Cincinnati Sunday afternoon for a showdown with the Bengals.
It was a game of possible playoff implications as the Bengals (6-3) and the Steelers (7-3) met for the first time this season. They’ll play again Dec. 4 at Heinz Field.
While the Bengals rallied and tied up the game in the third quarter after falling behind the early, the Steelers never trailed and managed to hang on for a 24-17 victory.
Rashard Mendenhall ran for a pair of touchdowns in the win, and the Steelers – who came into the game with only two interceptions all season – intercepted rookie quarterback Andy Dalton twice in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Cornerback William Gay anticipated Dalton’s throw and stepped in front of Jerome Simpson for the clinching interception inside the Pittsburgh 20-yard line with 2:27 left to play.
After the game, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about pulling out the win and heading into the bye week.
“I’ll take it; I wouldn’t necessarily say I was pleased – I’d be pleased if we were 10-0 but we’re not – we are what we are,” said Tomlin. “I haven’t ran across a bye that I didn’t like. I always get that question, that’s really funny to me – you know, you get it when you get it.”
Dalton handled most of what Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau threw at him. He had two more touchdown passes, giving him 14 overall — the most by a rookie quarterback in his first nine games since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
But in the end, a Steelers defense that’s finally getting healthy and forcing turnovers got to him.
Dalton was 15 of 30 for 170 yards and touchdown passes of 36 yards to fellow rookie A.J. Green and 1 yard to Jermaine Gresham.
Meanwhile, even though they lost to the Steelers, Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis said he felt as if his team measured up.
“We got work to do and we’re going to be in the same position regardless – we’d like to have had the win, we didn’t get it and we’ve got to go to work – but I don’t think this team needs to worry about now whether they can play with the so-called elite of the AFC cause they can and will,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh got a needed win by putting together long, balanced drives while thousands of Steelers fans waved Terrible Towels in the first sellout crowd of the season at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals received the ball to start the game and took over on their own 20 yard line, but went nowhere as the Steelers defense forced a quick three-and-out.
Pittsburgh began their first possession of the game on their own 46 yard line.
Facing a 3rd-and-10 from the Cincy 16 yard line, Ben Roethlisberger got flushed out of the pocket and found Jerricho Cotchery wide open in the endzone to put the Steelers up 7-0. The touchdown capped an eight-play, 54-yard drive.
Roethlisberger was 21 of 33 for 245 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He was sacked five times, matching his season high.
After forcing another three-and-out, the Steelers marched down the field and added to their lead.
The drive was in danger of stalling out at the Bengals’ 20 yard line, but Roethlisberger found Heath Miller for a 15-yard pass to move the chains. On the next play, Mendenhall broke a tackle and dove into the endzone to put Pittsburgh up 14-0.
The Bengals finally moved the ball on their third possession of the opening quarter and cut the lead in half.
Dalton went deep downfield and found A.J. Green for a 36-yard touchdown into double-coverage with 14 seconds to play in the first quarter. The Bengals’ scoring drive covered 79 yards in just seven plays.
On the Steelers next drive, Miller bobbled a pass from Roethlisberger and saw it fall into the arms of Cincinnati’s Leon Hall.
However, the Steelers defense came up with a big stop to force the Bengals to settle for a 43-yard field goal by Mike Nugent to cut the lead to 14-10.
After trading possessions without putting points on the board, the Steelers orchestrated a 16-play, 67-yard drive which ended in a 39-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham to give Pittsburgh a 17-10 lead.
Pittsburgh would take that lead into halftime and got the ball back to open the second half. However, they were forced to punt it away after just three plays.
Cincinnati wasted no time tying the game either. Dalton hooked up with Jermain Gresham for a 1-yard touchdown pass to cap off an 11-play, 67-yard drive with 8:38 to play in the third quarter.
But on the ensuing drive, the Steelers regained the lead.
Mendenhall broke a tackle on a run up the middle and stretched for the goal line to put Pittsburgh up 24-17. The 9-yard touchdown run capped an 11-play, 81-yard drive.
Next week, the Steelers have a bye week. After that, they will head to Kansas City for a game against the Chiefs at 8:20 p.m. on Nov. 27.
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