Quicker Release Helping Ben

In today's notebook, Bruce Arians credits Ben Roethlisberger's work in September with George Whitfield for his improved mechanics.

PITTSBURGH – He's had better seasonal passer ratings than this one. Four of them in fact.

But according to Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, Ben Roethlisberger is enjoying his finest pro season.

"As good as I've ever been around with him," said Arians, who's been on the team's coaching staff through all seven of Roethlisberger's seasons.

"Yeah, I think this has been his best year."

Roethlisberger hasn't thrown an interception in four games, and only one in the last seven. His interception percentage of 1.3 is a career low, and his sack percentage of 8.2 is his best since 2005 (7.9).

"Just continuing to grow," was Arians' explanation. "The ball comes out quicker. He's still going to make plays with his feet. He's still going to take a sack because of that. There are times when he's thrown it away. There are times when we made some plays down the field. I think one of the best plays he made all year was shaking (Terrell) Suggs off and throwing the ball away left-handed. That's the type of play he can make, but just his consistency, his accuracy. He worked extremely hard on his accuracy when he was off, and he changed his motion a little bit. It's paid off for him all season."

While sitting out a four-game suspension to start the season, Roethlisberger worked on his mechanics with quarterbacking guru George Whitfield.

"He shortened his delivery a little bit," Arians said. "It's kind of like a golfer changing his stroke a little bit. It was minor, but he really gets it out of his hand faster."

BLOCKING SUGGS

Of course, Roethlisberger's personal pass-rushing nemesis is coming to town Saturday. Terrell Suggs has sacked Roethlisberger 7½ times in his career and is entering the game on a roll.

Selected to his fourth Pro Bowl, Suggs had 11 sacks this season, and then two more against the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs last week. When Suggs gets two sacks in a game, the Ravens are 10-1. The lone loss was courtesy of the Steelers in the 2008 AFC Championship Game, but no one in Pittsburgh wants to take that chance again.

"You gotta block him," said Arians.

With a double team?

"He roves around, so you're wasting time trying to do that," Arians said. "The guy that's assigned to him has got to cinch it up and play hard."

In the last game, that guy was left tackle Jonathan Scott, an injury replacement for Max Starks since the Nov. 14 game against New England.

"I thought he played pretty solid," Arians said. "And (right tackle) Flo (Adams) was on one leg and I thought he really played good for one-legged. He had that high ankle sprain and could barely move. We're a little more healthy this time."

INJURY REPORT

Troy Polamalu (ankle) and Bryant McFadden (abdomen) missed practice Wednesday but both are expected to practice full-time Thursday and play Saturday. Aaron Smith (triceps) also missed practice and will have his arm scanned on Friday. He won't play Saturday.

Here's what Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had to say about McFadden:

"He's really going according to plan. If anything I'm erring on the side of caution. He's a veteran player. This is the third time we have played the opponent. We are not going to take any steps backwards between now and Saturday afternoon. … I am comfortable where he is."

As for Polamalu, Tomlin said:

"It's business as usual for Troy. Tomorrow is a Friday for Troy."

To read the transcript of Bruce Arians' interview with Pittsburgh reporters, go here.


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