By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — Ben Roethlisberger walked gingerly down the steps to the dining hall with an ice bag on his right knee after practice Saturday, but despite intermittent and occasionally heavy rain, along with a half-hour delay due to thunder and lightning, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback appeared to be sharp during the initial training camp workout at Saint Vincent College.
And while head coach Mike Tomlin said that Roethlisberger experienced some discomfort during the team’s annual run test Friday, the 10th-year NFL veteran did not echo that sentiment after the Steelers’ first practice. In fact, he felt no discomfort in the knee that he had the past couple of years. Roethlisberger credited an extensive offseason regimen to improve his conditioning, but added that there were too many changes to discuss.
“(It’s) getting old,” Roethlisberger, who turned 31 in March, said with a laugh. “No, it feels great. Like I said, it was all about coming out here today and getting on the field and seeing what it felt like taking a drop, hitting the fifth step and letting the ball go. It felt good, so I was happy.
(But) it’s Day 1, and we had the rain. We go in for a little delay and come back out. Coach (Terry) Hoeppner, my college coach (at Miami, Ohio) used to say: ‘Have a plan, work the plan and plan for the unexpected.’ So, we come back out here, change fields (to the artificial turf), change shoes and get back to it.”
When Tomlin spoke after practice, he also praised Roethlisberger.
“I thought he looked good, (but) I thought everybody looked good,” Tomlin said. “I’m not rushing to judge. It’s still football in shorts for us, (but) we’re enjoying the process.”
Roethlisberger also believed that he has changed as a leader in recent years.
“I’m trying to take over,” Roethlisberger said. “Instead of just being an offensive leader, (I’m) trying to be a leader of the team.
“I think it’s important that we have other guys on offense (to) take control of offensive leadership, Maurkice Pouncey, Heath Miller, guys that are great for the job. I’m just going to keep trying to step up as a team leader as well.”
More Football In Shorts
The Steelers practice again Sunday in shorts and shells, then finally go to full pads Monday afternoon at camp. The team is off on Tuesday.
Bad Weather, Good Health
Despite poor conditions, there were no injuries reported after Saturday’s practice. Even the guys on the PUP List were out there running around until the weather turned nasty.
Tight end Heath Miller said he continues to make progress seven months after right knee surgery during the final week of 2012. Miller tore his ACL in the second-to-last regular-season game against Cincinnati.
Tight end David Johnson, also on the PUP List, believed he would be ready for the regular season. Miller provided no such optimism, but it’s about a week short of one year since Johnson suffered a similar injury during the preseason opener in 2012 that caused him to miss all of last season.
Staff Interns
Former Steelers Oliver Ross and Aaron Smith are interns in the club’s scouting department, while Rod Rutherford, Rod Woodson, Chris Hoke and Willie Parker are coaching interns.
The Steelers already had hired former Steelers Mark Bruener and Chidi Iwuoma as a college scout and the team’s BLESTO scout, respectively.