It’s taken nearly a decade, but Ben Roethlisberger appears to have turned the corner in terms of maturity and leadership. At age 30, he’s a two-time Super Bowl winner who now can more comfortably be the leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers now that Hines Ward is retired. With a new offensive coordinator in town, Big Ben must quickly learn a new system before the Steelers open their season less than a month from now.
Roethlisberger joined 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh with Vinnie and Cook to talk about returning to action Thursday night when the Steelers play the Eagles in the teams’ first preseason game, what’s new about Todd Haley’s offense, the new-look offensive line, potentially having two rookies up front starting, Mike Wallace’s situation, the possibility of Plaxico Burress reuniting with the Steelers, and why he thinks folks are crazy to think that the Steelers would be just fine without Mike Wallace.
On returning to action Thursday night when the Steelers take on the Eagles:
“Yeah, it’s the preseason so you still don’t know what you’re going to get. But yeah it’s different — it’s at least a different opponent, and it’s the first trial run of Coach Haley calling plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
If he thinks the Steelers offense will look noticeable different under Haley:
“I don’t think so. That’s my opinion right now. I don’t think so. You may see a fullback and things like that, but I don’t think that’ s a big change, it’s just putting an extra guy in there to pound the ball.”
On the new-look offensive line:
“I’m really excited about this group. The key is always staying healthy for every position, but especially our line. I felt that we always had a good group, but we didn’t – we just can’t seem to keep everybody healthy, but right now I think we’ve got eight or nine guys that are playing so well together and they’re meshing, they’re gelling. “It doesn’t matter how you put them in, who you’re putting in different spots, it just seems like they’re making it work and to me, DeCastro’s playing great, Mike Adams is playing great, but Trai Essex and Ramone Foster are maybe having the best camp so far.”
On potentially having a couple of rookies playing up front along the offensive line:
“If that is the way things play out, and we don’t know how it’s going to unfold, but if it does play out, I have confidence that Coach Kugler is going to put the five best out there. So if it is rookies, they’re playing their best football. And that’s fine. They’ll be playing some great football because in my opinion we have some veteran guys playing really well right now.”
If he’s growing increasingly concerned about Mike Wallace’s situation:
“No, I talked to Mike several days back. It was his birthday, I gave him a call to wish him happy birthday and see how he was doing. And Mike’s training hard. He’s training with his helmet on just like he’d be here. So he’s doing a lot of things. And I have confidence he’ll be here and ready to go for the season.”
On potentially adding Plaxico Burress:
“Plax was another guy who I always thought got a bad rap for being a bad teammate. But that absolutely wasn’t true from anything I saw. He was a great teammate. And if they bring him back, that’s one more weapon than I have in my arsenal already.”
On fans who think Mike Wallace is not a big deal to the Steelers offense:
“They’re crazy. No offense, but they’re crazy. I can’t say enough how good of a teammate he is. And that’s the most important thing when you have as many young guys as we have on our team. And Mike’s a little older and has been doing it for several years. Everyone talks about how great Antonio Brown is — and he is — but the reason Antonio is going to get open — not the only reason — but one of the reasons Antonio is going to get open is because Mike is stretching the field. Any time that Mike is on the field, he commands two guys eyes, whether it’s the cornerback and the safety, but somebody’s always going to be keeping an eye on him. Mike is going to open up the field for Antonio, Emmanuel, Jerricho, Heath Miller, our backs, and that’s just the way it goes. And Mike gets frustrated sometimes when he’s not getting 100 yards a game, but I tell him that’s the ultimate compliment — you’re being double and triple teamed because they’re scared of you. So that’s what Mike brings to this team and that’s why we want and will be excited when he gets back here.”