By Mike Bires
LATROBE _ Ben Roethlisberger is circling Oct. 25 on his calendar. That’s the day he’ll play against Brett Favre for the first time.
Favre, the former Green Bay Packers star, came out of retirement and signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday.
“I love watching Brett Favre,” said Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ star quarterback. “I’m not saying I’m like him. But I’ve kind of modeled that gunslinger, unorthodox at times, just make plays (style of his). I’ve always loved how strong his arm was. No matter how his body was or where the throw had to go, he could get it there.”
Favre, 39, didn’t exactly have the greatest arm strength last year when he played for the New York Jets. But Roethlisberger’s point is well-taken. Favre, who led the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XXXI, is a sure-bet Hall of Famer.
“He did it right. He missed all of training camp,” said Roethlisberger, who has two Super Bowl wins. “I’m going to try that next year.”
The Steelers beat Favre and the Packers, 20-10, in 2005 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. But Roethlisberger missed that game due to a knee injury.
STEELERS PRACTICE ON THE TURF FIELD
Typically, the Steelers never use the St. Vincent College field with artificial turf for afternoon practices. But they did Tuesday after a mid-afternoon rain storm.
“We got a little rain between sessions today,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “While it wasn’t bad, we want to be able to use the (grass) fields tomorrow. When we put the big men on the grass, they chew it up and then it would not be able to be used here the rest of the week. We just bit the bullet here this afternoon and worked on this field, which is an awesome field.
“The weather cooperated with us this afternoon,” Tomlin added. “We were able to get our work in. I thought it was a good day of work.”
Until Tuesday, the Steelers have used the three grass fields at St. Vincent for afternoon practices.
On occasion during camp, the Steelers have used the field with artificial turf for morning practices.
FINE-TUNING THE RED ZONE OFFENSE
The 7-on-7 and team portions of the afternoon practice were devoted to red-zone plays. Obviously, the Steelers are hoping to improve on their red-zone efficiency of 2008 when they ranked 15th in the league.
They scored touchdowns on 27 of their 49 possessions (that’s a 55.1 percent rate) when they advanced the football inside an opponent’s 20-yard line.
“We were looking for the point swing,” Tomlin said. “I think that is the difference sometimes between being victorious and not; being good and great. Offensively you want the seven (points) while defensively, while they are down there, you are looking to get out of there with just three (points) and possibly no points allowed.”
MOORE SHOWING IMPROVEMENT
Running back Mewelde Moore said that he will miss Saturday’s preseason game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, MD. But he did take a positive step toward full recovery from an injured hamstring.
Moore, who hasn’t practiced since pulling a hamstring on Aug. 4, worked out with the team on a limited basis Tuesday afternoon.
For the first part of practice, he was in shoulder pads and helmets. But for team drills in the second half of practice, he took off his equipment and ran on his own.
“Mewelde Moore is marching his way back,” Tomlin said. “He was able to participate in individual drills, and we’re just going to keep him moving forward. We like where he is.”
In other injury news, defensive end Nick Eason left practice with a calf strain.
Tight end Sean McHugh didn’t practice due to swelling in his knee.
“Training camp knee, if you will,” Tomlin said. “As soon as that subsides, we’ll get him back out here.”
LIGHT MORNING WORKOUT
The Steelers held a 40-minute practice Tuesday morning that was mostly devoted to the kickoff team.
On Wednesday, the Steelers will practice just once, starting at 2:55 p.m.
They’ll be two practices (morning and afternoon) on Thursday. Then the Steelers break camp after a brief walk-through on Friday morning.