"Yeah, it feels good," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of the return of Essex. "I don't think you can ever have enough linemen. They seem to drop around here."
Essex signed a one-year contract after Roethlisberger repeatedly urged coach Mike Tomlin to bring back the seventh-year veteran who's started 25 games for the team at the tackle and guard positions.
The need to add Essex was realized Thursday after a minor injury to Jonathan Scott left the team with rookie Marcus Gilbert and second-year man Chris Scott at the tackle positions. The Steelers were also thin at guard and Roethlisberger knew it early.
"I've been saying it and knowing it for a long time," Roethlisberger said. "I was one of the guys up in Mike's office about every day telling him, ‘Trust me. He's lost weight. He looks good.'"
Essex admitted to being overweight "about a month, month and a half ago" before beginning to work at it. Essex said he's since lost "a lot, a significant amount, a couple of newborn babies."
Roethlisberger called himself "one of the middlemen to help get him back here. I told him he had to come in here and be focused and be ready and keep the weight down and work hard and not make mistakes. I could hear in his voice when he said ‘Trust me, I'm there. I'm ready.'
"I believe him and I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised."
Roethlisberger was asked if he also liked the $50 million blockbuster extension the Steelers made with Timmons, the 25-year-old mack inside linebacker.
"Yes, because it means he's not on another team, just like [LaMarr] Woodley and James Harrison," Roethlisberger said.
Timmons joined those two in the penthouse Tuesday with a reported $18 million in bonus money. The three linebackers have received more than $56 million in bonuses from the Steelers since Harrison's contract was extended in 2009.
"It actually happened pretty fast," Timmons said of the negotiations. "Mike Tomlin said he really wanted to keep me here and I was his first draft pick. I'm just happy I'll be here the next six years."
One reporter asked Timmons if "finishing sacks" is his next goal. Timmons had only three sacks last season, down from his career high of seven in 2009.
"I think I have double-digit sacks in me," Timmons said. "I've just got to finish my plays. If I do that, I think I'll be a pretty good linebacker."
Timmons's partner inside, James Farrior, was asked how Timmons might "finish" better.
"Just finish," Farrior said. "Him playing under more control, having more body control, would help him with the sacks. But we definitely know the type of player he is and what he's capable of bringing."