Welcome back Big Ben ...

... to the show that never ends. Mike Prisuta's so glad you could attend. Come inside. Come inside.

Ben Roethlisberger returned to the Steelers last week.

The circus came to town this week.

It was there in all its glory on Wednesday afternoon in the Steelers' locker room at their South Side practice facility. Reporters everywhere, seemingly from everywhere, joining the usual suspects to comprise what had to be the textbook definition of a "media horde."

What resulted was pretty much a complete waste of everyone's time.

A sampling for the record:

"Just give us your thoughts on coming back, getting on the practice field with the guys today, the expectations coming up for the game this week," asked Solomon Wilcots, a former Steelers defensive back who now toils behind a microphone.

"Well, this is week two on the practice field for me," Roethlisberger responded.

Hey, never let the facts get in the way of, if not a good story, the same tired, old, beaten-to-death story you're convinced everyone still wants to talk about, right Solly?

Wilcots is actually very good at what he does, but this was pretty much a no-win situation for Roethlisberger, the Steelers and the media. Assignment editors want the sensational and Roethlisberger is still perceived as such. And the news-consuming public, to a certain extent, expects as much.

You might be sick of it.

But you're still watching it and reading it.

Even if the "news of the day" consists mostly of Roethlisberger revealing he's "just trying to take it one day at a time," a plan of attack Roethlisberger felt compelled to mention on a couple of occasions Wednesday.

Bet the LA Times was glad to be on hand for that, and USA Today, and ESPN, and the NFL Network.

You knew this was a big deal when the TV crews brought not just their cameras and spotlights, but those extenders that allow boom microphones to be draped down over a subject's head from above, just out of the shot.

There were a couple of those, complete with those bizarre, fuzzy covers.

From a distance it looked as if a porno was being filmed.

Isn't it time we all moved on to Brett Favre?

"I thought we got a lot of it out of the way last week, but obviously not," Roethlisberger said of all the attention.

So we endured another round of the same questions and the same answers. And all the while the relevant ramifications of Roethlisberger's return remained as obvious as they had been prior to his actual return, an event that actually occurred last week, apparently unbeknownst to the national media:

* The Steelers are as glad to have him back as he is glad to be back.

* The offense will operate pretty much as it has been operating; they won't forget Rashard Mendenhall and the running game and start chucking it all over the yard just because.

* The biggest change will be the Steelers' ability to resume going no-huddle in situations other than two-minute situations when the mood strikes.

* They're going to score more points.

* And, they're going to be a tougher team to beat than the one that went 3-1 without him.

Eventually, the Steelers will get around to playing Cleveland.

In the meantime, fear not that this latest round of all-Ben, all-the-time coverage might somehow become a distraction to Roethlisberger or the Steelers.

"It's one of those joyous types of distractions," Max Starks insisted. "He's back in this locker room with us. He's back in the huddle with us. We're happy to have him back so I know he has to be, too."

Added Roethlisberger: "I'm excited, but I'm not to the peak of my excitement yet. That'll probably come later."

Film at 11.


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