View Full Version : Big Ben returns to practice. Teammates not bashfull to step to Ben's defense

06-02-2010, 04:47 AM

Now that Ben Roethlisberger has returned to the Steelers, he and his teammates have a simple goal -- to achieve some kind of normalcy under unprecedented circumstances.

Perhaps that is why Roethlisberger stepped into a familiar role upon his homecoming six weeks after being banished from the Steelers, running the first-team offense in practice Tuesday.

"I think normalcy is something we all look for," offensive tackle Max Starks said.

Roethlisberger did not speak publicly, and coach Mike Tomlin left practice early for a meeting he had to attend away from the Steelers' facility, so he was unavailable to answer questions.

That left the quarterback's teammates to speak, and they were not bashful.

Most said Roethlisberger looked to be in good shape, and that he did nothing special on his first day back since he last practiced with them during the first two spring drills April 19-20.

A week later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for the first four to six games of the season for his actions in the early morning of March 5 in Georgia, where a woman accused him of sexual assault. Authorities there decided not to charge him with a crime, but issued a scathing report on his activities.

"He was excited to get back, happy to be back in the fold, if you will," said defensive end Brett Keisel, one of Roethlisberger's closest friends on the team.

"He said he had butterflies this morning, he's excited to go to work and get back around the guys and start working toward another championship."

Byron Leftwich, who had been running the first-team offense since he was acquired in a trade before the draft, had a previous commitment and did not practice Tuesday. It remains to be seen who will run the first team when Leftwich returns, likely today. As usual, Dennis Dixon ran with the second team and Charlie Batch the third.

Dixon said he was not surprised that Roethlisberger ran the first team, even as the Steelers prepare a quarterback to replace him for the first four-to-six games of the season.

"No, not at all. That is Ben, he's been there and done that. I'm not worried about that. I'm just trying to get better every day."

Linebacker Larry Foote, himself repatriated with the Steelers after a year playing for the Detroit Lions, believes some of the harsh criticism of Roethlisberger the past three months was unwarranted. He cited in particular charges that Roethlisberger is not a team leader and not a good teammate.

"As far as the teammates in locker room, that's ridiculous," Foote said. "You don't win two Super Bowls and have a winning percentage without sacrificing and giving something up. As far as a leader, game in and game out, you don't see that many quarterbacks sticking it in there and giving his body up for the team. He puts it on the line every week. Just that alone, we have respect and admiration for him.

"He's a good, high-quality guy in the locker room. Everybody makes mistakes, and you have to learn from it. I feel bad the black eye he's getting from this and people just throwing stones at him."

Tuesday marked another step in the progress the Steelers and Roethlisberger hope to make.

"When he wasn't here, it felt like something was missing," Keisel said. "So it's great to have him back working with everyone, and now we can all move forward."

Roethlisberger still has hills to climb.

Goodell last week approved of his return to the team after reviewing the behavior evaluation he had ordered for the quarterback. Goodell also said he would reduce Roethlisberger's six-game suspension to four if he follows the path the commissioner laid out for him. There also remains an active civil suit filed against him in Nevada by a woman who claims he sexually assaulted her.

"It's no question it's been challenging," Keisel said. "It's definitely going to test the measure of a man where he goes from here. Hopefully, greatness is in his future."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10153/1062382-66.stm#ixzz0pggeaGXW

06-02-2010, 08:21 AM
Skinny Ben


06-02-2010, 08:24 AM
Skinny Ben


not BIGer Ben :lol:

tony hipchest
06-02-2010, 09:22 AM
so far id say foote, keisel, and clark have been bens biggest vocal supporters.

all defenders. interesting.

hey! did anyone invite that guy over who hates clark because he's in bristol conneticut doing the "morning take" show for espn?

06-02-2010, 09:45 AM
ben may be at his best when he gets back with him fully concentrating on football and not being a rockstar.

06-02-2010, 08:25 PM
and here's a nice quote by Randle-El, i'm glad we brought him back for his locker-room presence...

Randle El is convinced Roethlisberger has undergone considerable soul-searching the last three months and is determined to become a better person.

"Any time you go through something, it makes you step back and take a look and evaluate, who you're hanging around with and who you're involved with, it makes you do a little bit of an evaluation of your life," Randle El said.

However, the accusation plus a separate lawsuit accusing Roethlisberger of sexual assault in Nevada has visibly angered and disappointed the Steelers' huge fan base, with many saying they'll never feel the same way about the franchise again until Roethlisberger is gone. His merchandise sales have plummeted, and some business owners say they can't give away his jerseys.

Regardless, his teammates are offering Roethlisberger any support he wants, Randle El said. They hope that the public eventually comes around, too.

"We've all been through different things, we've all made different mistakes," Randle El said. "When you make those mistakes, as a player, as a friend, as anybody, you've got to have forgiveness in your heart. To be able to forget and move on, that's the kind of thing you have to do and expect. Not just from players but from friends and family, and even everybody that was involved. Everybody makes mistakes, but you can't hold onto it for life."